On this first Mother’s Day since Mom died, I’ve been reflecting on the incredible person that was my mother. She was a beautiful woman, but when she surrendered her life to God in 1964, she seemed to lose any realization of external attractiveness and became passionate with the beauty that only the character of Jesus can provide. For several decades before her death, she rarely purchased clothing. Almost all of her clothing were gifts from friends, including Esther Curry—a local woman who had been to Uchee Pines many years ago, and experienced health benefits from the lifestyle changes she incorporated into her everyday life, but which is a part of the life we live every day. Esther lived in an apartment complex for elderly individuals, and occasionally there would be vacancies that would leave personal belongings behind. She would call me, and we’d go pick up items for Uchee Pines; but many times Esther had something specific for Mom. I saw Mom wearing many items that had been given her in this way, by Esther, and other friends who wanted to provide something for Mom. I think her challenge was to harmonize all the various articles of clothing from disparate sources, but she seemed to always wear whatever was provided with grace and dignity.
Mom loved plants of all types; but she especially liked the Southern shrubs and trees that provide beautiful blooms, like magnolias and azaleas. One elderly “maiden lady” living in Columbus would invite us regularly to her home, and we’d wander through her yard while she dug up shoots and roots for us to take with us to our yard. Mom’s idea of the ideal yard was somewhat helter-skelter in style, and my job of mowing was made much more difficult by the plants Mom put in the ground with no real discernable pattern. Anyone watching me mow probably thought more of a kamikaze pilot than an experienced mowing expert!
Although a physician, Mom loved being outdoors. She believed the ideal exercise routine was spending a couple of hours from her busy day outside in the garden, or digging volunteer trees out of the yard, or some other “vigorous, but not violent” practical work project. Her way of helping people overcome diseases like obesity was to work with them—literally—if at all possible. Many people needed more time to overcome lifestyle related diseases like heart disease or overweight than the 17-day lifestyle session could provide, and Mom would, quite often, have people spend time with her, working on these practical work projects. Our dirt driveways provided many opportunities for exercising almost all the muscles, and Mom would invite her patients to join her with a pick or shovel, while she cleaned ditches or smoothed potholes. There must be dozens, if not hundreds, of people who have lost weight while working with Mom in the garden or shoveling gravel on the driveway! Even while doing these manual labor projects, she always seemed to be feminine and graceful. I don’t remember her complaining, no matter how hot, or cold, or “buggy” it was outside. She always had time to spend with anyone needing the help she could provide; and the best way to provide that help, many times, was to have one simply follow along in the way that she was living to maintain her own health.
One would never know it, but Mom thought of herself as being a bit reclusive. Although she spent a large portion of her adult life teaching, lecturing and living in the public arena, she had a distinct uneasiness about small talk. More than once, when I accompanied her on a lecture tour, she would say, “Now Son, when we arrive, I’ll just let you do all the talking, because you know, I’m not very good with small talk.” That would strike me with a combination of terror and amusement; but I don’t remember her actually ever leaving me to do all the visiting, and she never seemed to me to be lacking in social graces, including whatever chatting she did upon arriving at any venue!
If there were one characteristic Mom consistently displayed, it was her care for those who were suffering. I remember one time, shortly after I married Kelly, that Mom came over to our house when I wasn’t feeling well and was running a fever. I was lying on the couch, and Mom sat down at my feet and began a deep foot massage. I’m sure it must have been tough on her hand and arm muscles, but she kept it up for the better part of an hour, and my fever broke during that time. She told me that when one could not do other natural remedies for a fever, many times a foot massage would help the fever to break—a fact I had never heard. What did strike me as uncommon was that a physician would learn such a technique, but, in addition, be willing to actually execute it personally; not just with me, but with her patients as well. Many times she personally administered a hot foot bath or made up a charcoal poultice, although there were many others that knew the techniques and could do the job. She certainly practiced what she preached, in that, while natural remedies may take more time and effort, she was willing to “put in the time” to accomplish the result. She thoroughly believed in simple, natural ways to promote restoration—those things that are in harmony with Nature’s laws and the efforts of the body itself to bring about healing.
While she was constantly busy, between trips and lectures, classes and writing, she always had time to focus on one individual, personally. Above all, she loved her Lord, and wanted others to love Him, too. I remember, for years, while I was running from God myself, nearly every time she came to my home, she would say, before she left, “We should study the Bible together sometime.” I would always say, “Oh, I don’t want to talk about that…” and she would not push it, but just leave the suggestion. After several life-changing events had taken place in my life, I began thinking about God. I had been hearing the Holy Spirit talk to me, and slowly responding; although I don’t believe there was much outward evidence of this. One day, Mom was over for a visit, and, as she often did, as she was leaving, she said, “We should study the Bible together sometime,” and I said, “OK, let’s do that”—which took her completely by surprise! She recovered quickly, and said, “How about tomorrow?” And so, we began studying, and I began a journey that continues to this day—the Christian walk of learning to know Jesus. When I needed a real Christian to help me in getting started on that walk, I turned to Mom, and she was there, as she had been for many others, to point to Jesus as Savior. That was the most important object of her living, and Jesus remained her main focus as long as she lived. Happy Mother’s Day, to all the Moms who love as only Moms can!