In auto-pilot mode, I move through my early morning, going down my to-do list of necessary emails and returning calls before finding my way into the day’s tasks. Quickly, I make a search through the contacts on my phone to find the number I need. I come suddenly to a stop as I see that “318” number appear on my screen; my shoulders slump, my chair swivels away from the door, and I remember Mom.
My childhood home phone number is the same one I memorized in the third grade when we moved to Elmer, Louisiana from our travels around the states and the world. My dad retired from the military and my parents moved there, next door to Mom’s parents in what became the center of my universe. All I needed and loved were here, and my mother formed the axis around which our family revolved.
Mom called me “Jimbo” all of my childhood; somewhere in my young adult years, she promoted me to “Pumpkin;” I have always answered to both. When I see that phone number come across my screen, I still anticipate the beloved voice and the familiar greeting: “Hi Pumpkin!”
In the spring of the year, mom and I found our conversation centering around her gardens as she shared updates on the blooming of her shrubs and bulbs. She guided the tours, vividly describing the deep magenta of the azaleas and the profuse rows of golden daffodils. Her bridal wreath, a show stopper in the middle of the front yard, garnered specific praise. I envisioned it all as she chatted.
My mind’s eye flashes to another flower-filled space as I gaze at the phone number. Roses fill the large reception area where portraits and photos of my mother’s life testify to her love of family. Near her closed casket, a striking arrangement of white roses stands next to the large portrait of my mother, the one that graced our front foyer for as long as I can remember.
Roses have been used for hundreds of years to send messages without words. The rose itself is a symbol of love and passion, and each color has its particular meaning. In the language of flowers, the white rose symbolizes purity and sincerity. It occurs to me that those four words say volumes about my mother, too. Her husband and four children knew the power of her passionate love which was constant for all our years together.
From my experience, a mother can usher a child into an understanding of the Father’s unconditional love. This agape love of the Heavenly Father, transcending and persisting regardless of circumstances, steadfast in its endurance, powerful in its intensity, I came to understand because of my mother’s boundless love for me. The security of her love made me bold in pursuing relationship with my Savior. She modeled for me and my siblings the commandment of Jesus to love one another as He has loved us. What a miraculous gift from the Father –– this mother who demonstrated love on the grand scale and gave us a glimpse of the infinitely grander scale of God’s agape love!
Walking through a garden of roses years ago, I overheard one lady comment, “You know, those who care for roses well also care well for others.” I flourished with the nurturing and watch-care her unconditional love provided, and I praise my Heavenly Father for the love of my mother.