Friday, July 5, 2013

Still Missing Her, Still Thanking God for Her

My heart has been reminded that today, July 5, is the day my mother went to be with Jesus in heaven. She died in 2007 and I still miss her and I still thank the Lord for blessing me as her daughter.
The following is a page from my journal written May 27, 2007. I have published this before but I think it's part of the healing/grieving process and I want to honor the memory of my mother, Mary Elizabeth Gillette Brown. Here it is:

May 27, 2007
Journal Notes
By Polly Balint


When I was playing golf today with three friends, I started thinking about Mom and how she has given me such a wonderful legacy of loving life… and even in playing golf. While I was on the course, I started to remember what she was like on my last trip to Coral Gables…she had to be bathed and dressed. Couldn’t go to the bathroom by herself…couldn’t walk alone and barely can speak. She would shuffle to walk but it took two people to help her. BUT, she was still so pleasant and cordial and gracious and willing to do whatever was in front of her. She has always been that way…just accepting what she was given with thankfulness. I think the thing she loved to do the most is laugh. The last time I was with her --even when she was failing and medicated I could still make her laugh. It was a gift from God.
Growing up and even in my adulthood she always made everything in life an adventure; when we would be eating outdoors and she’d say, “We’re having a party!” Whatever it was, she made it special somehow; by her words and her attitude. When we were living in Pennsylvania on the farm, she’d load up a picnic basket and then load us in the station wagon and we’d drive down a pasture road and then she’d stop by our creek. She’d start a fire and get out her huge black iron skillet and make us fried egg sandwiches. We were having another party! Mom saw life as an adventure and always wanted to make the most of every moment with a joyful, thankful attitude.

She even handled the ripple effects of her tragic divorce with so much grace: Dad walked out on her with no warning and leaving her with five children. She had the heartbreak of him leaving and she obviously loved him, and then she faced the relentless struggles of raising the five of us high-energy children. She didn’t complain about our dad leaving.  She didn’t complain when she had to put food on the table (we had HUGE appetites). She loved us deeply and kept us all together. She made birthdays special. She made holidays special.  We took trips to Florida. We rented large cabins in NC for the summer. We took regular beach trips and beach-side vacations. We learned to play golf at young ages. We fished. We went boating. We had people over all the time for dinner.

 Press Photo of (then) Mary Gillette

One of her secrets is that she didn’t expect anything from anyone. She just gave from her generous heart. Everyone loved Mom and everyone in town knew her name: Mary Brown. She loved to entertain in our home and loved to dance and sing and loved to eat, especially ice cream! She had quite the gift of hospitality.
Another one of her secrets is that she did not care what people thought of her. She didn’t think about herself. She didn’t care if she got other people’s approval. That didn’t matter to her. She wasn’t impressed with nice things, even though that was the lifestyle in which she grew up: her parents gave her a convertible with her monogram on the car door, she had a pilot’s license and flew her own plane, went to a private school, lived the country club lifestyle and still knew how to run a farm. She wasn’t a snob. She just wanted to love people and make them feel good.

She had faith in God. But she was very quiet about it. It was like: She simply BELIEVED. She wanted to pray before we ate. She made sure we all went to church, Sunday school and Vacation Bible School. We grew up going to church. A few years ago she told me she prayed for things and prayed for us (her children) and she then would leave it with God and not worry about it after she prayed. We talked about what the Bible says about sin, forgiveness, heaven and hell.
But when I was playing golf today and thinking how calm she was when I last saw her and she just accepted what was going on:  her body failing and not able to take care of herself, it made me think: ‘that is the kind of abandonment God desires of me (of all His children) to just hand over my life to HIM and trust and believe He WILL take care of me, He will take good care of me.’ That’s the way she lived. She lived an abundant life. God gave that to her. God did it.
Mom was a freelance writer and author. She wrote "Fell's Teenage Guide to Winning Golf" and didn't use her first name --- only her first initial  -  because she was told it would  be better if people believed a man was the author. It was 1963. She also wanted to stay in amateur status as a golfer since she played in tournaments all over the southeast.

A few years ago she came to visit us and stayed with us a few days. It was obvious she was beginning to get very sick --her heart and her mind were weak  -- and yet she said, clearly and succinctly, “This house is you, Polly. This is where you belong. You should be living in a country club and you and Don and the girls should be using the pool, and the girls should be having their friends come over to the club and play tennis, too. You should use the golf course. You and Don should be going to the club for dinner. You should be playing golf, you love to play and you play so well! What do you need? What can I do for you? What can I give you?” 
I said, “Nothing, Mom. I have everything I need.” She just sat beside me and hugged me. When I showed her the Woodmont Bible study photo album I made she got tears in her eyes. She was so happy to know I was hosting Bible studies. She loved it. She loved it that I’m a free-lance writer, too. She acted so pleased to know what God is doing with my life. It is as if she prayed this all along! Maybe that’s what this is all about…maybe God is showing me I’m living the life she prayed for me and that’s why she was so happy about it. 
She strongly encouraged me to keep writing. I think encouragement was her strongest gift. She encouraged each one of us. She may be gone from this earth but God is still using her to encourage me. What a gift. I am thankful.

In honor of and in sweet and thankful memories of my mother:

Mary Gillette Brown

November 26, 1919 – July 5, 2007

All glory to God.
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