My mother poured me tea today. It is reported by a reliable source that she swept her floor as well. Perhaps this doesn't impress you. Small labour compared to some.
Over a half century ago, on this very day, she was 'totus sum in', engaged in the business of delivering to the world a gift from God, a precious baby girl.
In all the years that have passed since that day a variety of people have had expectations of my mother. She's been asked to be a certain kind of wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, teacher, prayer partner, poet, mentor, customer, neighbour, reporter, mother-in-law, grandmother, great grandmother, patient...
I know there were many times she felt she'd missed the mark. She wanted acceptance and approval so badly, and in perverse sinners (like me) that seems to bring out a subtle cruel streak at times. But I can affirm that she was a mother to match all mothers.
Then came the dark years - shades of her own mother's experience, voices, terrors, followed by a perceived silence from God. The rocking of her world moved out in waves, threatening the moorings of other lives as well. And for me, a special message from the enemy, he'd told her that I would lose my faith as well. I emphatically declared the theological impossibility of such a thing, and then suffered doubts in secret on the many days when my trust was clearly anchored in all the wrong things.
Is she still in darkness? I cannot say for certain - she's been altered by so many chemicals and shock induced seizures that she's lost the ability to articulate her thoughts. She smiles occasionally and it isn't the forced grimace of recent years. She has regained her appetite for food, and Christmas Day she participated in a frivolous family game after spending most of the afternoon resting her head on my father's shoulder protected by his embrace.
Still, this is a woman with a soft public persona and a steel resolve. Maybe she's once again summoned up the strength for an Oscar caliber performance - for our sakes.
Either way, what a gift - my mother poured me tea today.