Saturday, May 12, 2012

Memories of Mom

"It doesn't matter whether my name is on the membership roll of the church -- the important thing is that my name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life!" --- Substance of Helen (Sedgwick) Harriger's response to her pastor who had told her he could not find her name on the membership roll of the church she had been attending and in which she had become actively involved.

If I detailed all the memories of my mother, it would take a long time and the content would make for a rather large book. So I shall try to keep it sweet, short and simple. Oh, by the way, the picture above is my mother holding me late in the summer of 1933 -- a few moons ago!

My earliest memory goes back to times before I went to school. My mother always had my well being at heart without fail. This involved not just my physical health but also my spiritual well being.

Mom had become a Christian at a very early age in her life and expressed her faith in Jesus Christ in a variety of ways. In her church she was a Sunday School teacher, involved in the ladies missionary group, and taught in annual Bible schools.

She made clear the difference between right and wrong to my sister (born about 6 years after me) and me when it came to our conduct. I remember distinctly one time she had me on her knee and we looked out the window at the neighbor just across the road working a field with his horses. The neighbor was a very profane man and could be heard cursing his horses or whatever -- he constantly was telling God to damn something or someone! Mom pointed out that we had to respect God and never to use His Name in a bad way such as the neighbor had been doing.

She was a disciplinarian -- a paddling was given out for certain offenses on my part and one time it was so serious that she turned me over her knee and used a scrub brush for emphasis -- I did not feel like sitting down for a while! The way things are now days the A.C.L.U. (Anti Christian Lovers of Ungodliness) would have encouraged me to sue my mother in court for child abuse!

Mom did a lot of reading and study and had a teacher's certificate qualifying her to teach in the public schools of our area. She did some substitute teaching occasionally. But her first love was to be a home maker for my dad, my sister and me.

She was an excellent cook and loved working in her kitchen. Her homemade bread along with her homemade butter earned her a noteworthy reputation in our community. But she also was first class when it came to the sweet stuff such as chocolate cake, cinnamon rolls, lemon sponge pie, etc. More than once I downed nearly a quart of our golden Guernsey milk with pieces of warm chocolate cake just out of the oven!

My mother was also a writer of letters (something I guess I inherited from her) and during WW II wrote to quite a number of military persons from our area on a regular basis. One of my dad's cousins was wounded in Sicily twice and one letter she wrote to him was done on shelf paper about 5 feet long or so and she wrote on both sides of it. He had a picture taken with the letter draped around his neck and hanging down over his chest. When I entered the military myself she was always faithful in writing letters to me and a few months later to Jean and me after our marriage and our move to North Carolina when I was stationed at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station.

In addition to her work in the home she did a lot outside. She had a fair sized garden each year, gathered the eggs from our chicken coop, and helped my dad milk the cows twice a day. Sometimes she engaged in an activity that I did not want to watch. Once in a while she would take a rooster or maybe a hen, tie its legs together, hang it on the clothes line, and then cut off its head with a butcher knife! Her roast chicken was impossible to beat -- it was a bit unpleasant at a certain point in reaching that desired goal!

Mom was always one to give encouragement and support throughout the family. She was the oldest of the six children born to Edward and Estella (Robb) Sedgwick. Her brothers and sisters thought very highly of her and often visited her when they could.

She was very excited the day I revealed to her that God had called me into the ministry. She and my dad made special arrangements to come visit us when we were in Kentucky serving a small church while in seminary. And they were able to come to my graduation from Asbury Seminary. After we returned to Pennsylvania they would visit our church services from time to time.

Perhaps her greatest contribution in life was her discipline of prayer. I do not believe I would be where I am today or would have been involved in God's work as I have been over many years had it not been for a praying mother (and a praying father too).

She came down with cancer and fought a good fight but the disease got the best of her in January of 1979. I remember in the hospital room in Franklin PA when the doctor told us she was gone, the first thought to come into my mind was this: "Not one cancer cell can touch her now -- she is in the presence of her Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ!" She did win the ultimate victory and to that, every obedient Christian can say, "Amen and Amen!"

Because of what Jesus did for us all on Calvary's cross, I have the assurance of seeing my mother again along with a host of other loved ones and friends -- a reunion that will never break up and located in the perfect trouble-free environment -- some of us refer to this blessed place as Heaven!

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. --- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-19