Posted January 31, 2021. My mother's birthday.
My mother did not go to church on a regular basis, weddings, funerals, invitations. She did not take her children to church. My mother said "you live your heaven and hell right here on earth, it's "how" you live your life that matters." She was a testimony to her statement and I love her dearly for what she taught me. She was always kind to others, always making sure she called the person she was talking to by their name and offered laughter and kind words to each person she came into contact with, always. She loved people. When my grandmother, Dee Dee Mom, my fathers mother, was in recovery in a nursing home mom took me and my two young daughters to visit her. My mother greeted each and every person with such joyful attention, including staff. She would ask questions, remembering conversations and respectfully attentive. It was one of my greatest moments to witness my mother living her daily life as if she were in a House of God. She was straight forward, told you like it is and never held back what needed to be said if it meant protecting you or advising you. Never punishing, often way too liberal for many. She did not let others attitudes get in her way however. I am ever grateful for what I am still learning from my mother. Her wisdom comes to me daily in all I do.
Thank you my mother.
My DeeDee Mom on the other hand, took her grandchildren to church. She took us to the United Methodist Church in Sunnyvale, California where we lived at the time. I was about nine years old the first time she took me to church. I had already been going to Catholic church with my best friend down the street. The day my grandmother took me to church was the first time I heard my grandmother sing. My brother and sisters went directly to Sunday school class when we got there. Because of my age I went to the main service with the adults before going on to class. After my grandmother got them settled she came into the main service and sat about five seats down from me. That’s when we all stood to sing a hymn and I watched her very intently. She was strong, proud, standing with the others singing so beautifully in my eyes. What I witnessed transformed me in how I understood my grandmother. I received my bible that day in Sunday school. I still have it of course, along with the memory of DeeDee Mom and her tall, heavy set body standing out in the congregation. She signed my bible for me filling out my name where I received it and when.
As a child I spent a great deal of time with her learning to cook, sew my own clothes, make quilt tops and blankets, as well as my own pajamas. She taught me most of what I know regarding domestic care of the home, self care and care of others. When my first child was born my mother apologized when she came to be with me to help with her first grandchild. She said, "I'm sorry Connie there is not much I know to help you because Dee Dee Mom always took care of me and my babies. I said, "just do what she did mom, and we will be fine." The last time I was with my grandmother was when I stayed with her for about a month with my two little daughters, who were nine months and three years old. Dee Dee Mom was just home from the hospital recovering from treatment for cancer. Before we left she needed to make me a flannel nightgown. Just as when I was a child visiting her for the weekend, she would often made me a pair of pajamas, she sat at her sewing machine and made me a full length flannel nightgown because she wanted to make sure I was warm heading up to Washington. Dee Dee Mom passed away several months later. I’m so blessed to have had that very special time with her. Going through her treasures and photo albums with her, learning so much of her life as she shared her stories and wisdom with me. I thank God for my grandmother and for all of her many gifts.
Referring to the song “Come Sunday” written by Duke Ellington, which is now in the hymn book of the United Methodist Church, the author of the article below states: “The song is ultimately about the providence of God in all our lives. The refrain addresses God directly, “Lord, dear Lord above, God Almighty, God of love,” and then makes a petition, “please look down and see my people through.” The stanzas point to hope and heaven, concluding that “With God’s blessing we can make it through eternity.”
Dr. Hawn is professor of sacred music at Perkins School of Theology.