Friday, February 3, 2012

A Birthday Tribute to My Mom

Mom, this is a tribute to you.

Today, on your 91st birthday, I thought it appropriate to let the world know what a great mom you are. If only the world would listen!

Loie Clarke is not the average, run-of-the-mill, middle class traditional American mom, whoever that might be. Married in 1943 to your high school sweetheart Bruce Clarke, you have always kept an upbeat, positive approach to life. If you had problems with Dad, you kept them to yourself. I think it is fair to say that your rosy cheeks are an outward presentation of your inner self.

You were never a complainer; it was simply not part of your vocabulary. Complaining was just a total contradiction of that positive “can-do” personality. You have your opinions, sometimes very strong opinions, but those opinions were never presented in a critical way. In thinking back over the years, I gave you plenty to complain about, but you did your very best to present the best side of things.

How often I have told the story of how dad came home one day from the tennis court. The doctor had told him to start getting regular exercise because, as a man in his mid-forties, he was having too many health problems that were related to stress on the job. He took up tennis because he had played it frequently in his youth. Tennis was not your sport, knowing little more than which end of the racket to hold.

But tennis suddenly became your sport. Dad came home from the tennis court and announced to you that he and his partner had just won a match. Your inquiry set you into action, for dad confessed that his partner had been a much younger woman. That next day, you were on the tennis court and you never looked back.

To my knowledge, you never complained, you just took action. (I wouldn’t blame you if you really told him off, but that does not seem part of your nature).

You also have a very spunky side about you. You would not have represented the State of Minnesota in the National Senior Olympics Tennis Championships if you were not very determined. You encouraged Dad to go for the championships, and you and Dad both almost won – twice or was it three times?

I love this photograph of you dancing last year at Crysta's wedding. In a sense, it shows the type of encouragement that you spread, such as all the many girl's tennis teams you coached in the Minneapolis area. I’m quite certain that your upbeat and determined attitude was part of the many seasons of championship tennis.

Jini, my younger sister, and I are your only children. I can’t speak for Jini, but I can certainly compliment you on not meddling with our situations when we became adults. You seemed to very well know that, as difficult as things became between me and my first wife, that it would be contra-productive for you to try and make things right. The intervention of the mother-in-law would certainly not have been welcome, and you knew your limits. This is also consistent with your great aversion to conflict.

I got my love of flowers from you. As a child, I well remember how you planted the many bright salmon, yellow, orange, and red tuberous begonias in front of our house. Near them you planted many luscious pink, purple, violet, and coral impatiens that you watered daily. Now, as caretaker of the Gethsemane Prayer Garden, I can say that I first learned gardening from you, even if it was just from a distance.

Your spiritual walk over the last few years is the biggest reason for me to give you tribute. Dad was not a man without opinions, and his agnostic view of a Godless world was certainly a problem for a woman that had been baptized as a teenager. You honored his view as the head of the home, which kept you home on most Sunday mornings.

Towards the end of dad’s time here on earth, as he mellowed more and more, you started to explore what it means to be a Christian. Since he passed five years ago, you have blossomed in your faith. You are attending church services on a regular basis, going to Bible studies, teaching Bible lessons over the phone to a friend that is a Mason, and attempting to exhibit your Christian faith by your walk. As our Lord continues His work in you, may the fruits of your faith be more and more abundant!

There is much to be done in this world, for our focus must be on the Kingdom of God. I am so glad that you are part of this whole mystery of Jesus Christ that is now revealed.

Happy birthday Mom, I love you,