It was a crisp Friday morning in Baltimore in April 2017. I sat quietly in a chair next to her bed at the rehabilitation center, ready, willing, and able to keep her company whenever she woke up. This was not where I wanted to be that weekend, but recent circumstances had dictated our meeting place. The cold, sterile, sparsely decorated room.
My thoughts were pacing the room as I sat motionless watching her chest rise and fall with every breath she took. Why had this happened? Will she recover? Could this be the last time I see her on this earth? It was sad to think things like this, but being a realist, at her age and having recently had a mild stroke, anything was possible.
As she lay comfortably in her hospital bed, memories flooded my mind spanning the several decades I had known this lady. I remember her for her larger-than-life persona when I was knee-high to grasshopper. She then became wise beyond her years as I entered school, helping me with homework and test preparation.
Then came the period where I thought the lady was nuts, lame, uncool, and out to embarrass me at every opportunity. Then I figured out I knew more than she did and could not understand why she just didn’t “get” me.
Eventually, I grew to understand just how much she did understand, care, love, and protect me as best she knew how. I recognized the sacrifices she made to provide a better upbringing for me than she had experienced.
As I sat and watched her every move, I began to see her in a totally new light. Forget the fact I had been around her for over 56 years and that she was turning 92 next month; that day, I saw her quite differently.
I saw years and years of loving her family and serving them well. Every wrinkle, gray hair, bump, bruise, and scrape, she was war worn and battle tested in this beautiful thing we call life. Regardless of whatever came her way she faced it with love and Jesus.
I remember her always being content with what she had. She didn't need a new car or flashy clothes to be happy. She was happy with what God gave her. And no matter what the situation, God always provided.
She had been the most special person in my life. She was always around, through good times and bad. She always rolled with the punches. She was gifted with a wonderful personality and a unique sense of humor.
She also had a most forgiving heart. Over the years she had taken her share of lumps and always responded with the Christ-like quality of forgiveness. I never remember hearing her say a cross word about anyone. She was a very trusting soul. I'm sure that over her nine decades of life this wonderful quality had hurt her a time or two, but she would never change. That’s just the way she lived. I firmly believe that she would find something good in the most despicable of human beings.
I'm sure I disappointed her a few times along the way, but if I did, she never told me. She was always quick to tell me how proud she was of me. She attended every baseball game and was my biggest cheerleader. And I know she prayed for me. I believe I am where I am today in part because of her prayers.
If this was our last goodbye for now, I would have some wonderful memories of how she helped mold me into the loving husband, father, son, brother, nephew, uncle, and friend that I am. I might be tooting my own horn here, but I am proud to say she did her job well.
Perfect I am not, however, when the chips are down, I can be counted on to do the right thing in every situation, which is a testament as to how I was raised. This apple did not fall far from the Harper tree. I came from good stock, was brought up in a loving, Christian home, and was taught right from wrong and personal responsibility from a very young age.
God has richly blessed me. This is very evident having had this lady in my life. I didn't have a choice. But if I did, I wouldn't change a thing.
The most special thing about her was that she always did her best with what she had and left the rest up to God. What a wonderful example she set for her children. She has a reservation in a mansion in heaven. I would give all I have to see Mom face to face with God, and hear him say, "well done thou good and faithful servant."
Thanks Mom, for doing it right, and for being a great example for me to follow. I love you, Mom!