Our Own Narrative

As Mother’s Day approaches, my mind drifts back to last weekend in Dallas. One of the most beautiful moments of that family gathering was when my almost 94 year-old Mom held her first Great Grandchild for the very first time. As I thought about that moment, it struck me how much history my Mom has witnessed. She was born in the depression. She lived through World War II, in which she lost a husband and a brother, followed by wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. Mom lived through the trauma of both Pearl Harbor and 9-11.

When Mom was a kid, radio and newspapers were the only means of keeping in touch with world events. She was able to adapt to television and private landlines, but she has not been able to make peace with the inter-net, email, smartphones or texting. She still writes letters and sends birthday cards.

During her 93+ years, Mom witnessed a massive amount of turmoil and change. Any reasonable person would affirm that Mom’s life has been eventful. A friend of mine, however, told me that we create our own narratives. He meant that we are in control of our life’s story. World events and a myriad of voices may try to control or influence that narrative, but ultimately it is ours to create and nurture.

Mom’s narrative has always included a firm reliance upon God. She is still quick to tell anybody who cares to listen (and even those who don’t!) that, in the lyrics of the oft-sung spiritual, “the Lord will see us through.” For her 93 (and counting) years, her life story has kept that firm belief front and center.

As Mom held my Granddaughter Samantha last week, I had an epiphany. Far too often, I hear people bemoaning the future. They fear that the “next generations” will screw things up, maybe even worse than they did. They suggest that the future is bleak for our children and our children’s children. I am not buying what they are selling. I will not inhale such toxic fumes. Like my Mom, I trust that when Sammy is down, God will lift her up as if she is on eagle’s wings. In the words of the Psalmist, occasionally Samantha’s “weeping may linger into the night, but joy will come with the dawn.” Undoubtedly, if she lives as long as my Mom, her life will also be eventful, but I am more than willing to trust in Sammy’s God-given potential to create her own narrative. If I did not believe this, I would have to get out of the God business.

Sammy…I trust that you will create a great life story! But never forget, just like Mom still has my back, Grand-Papa will always have yours!

John E. Holt, Cotuit, Massachusetts

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One thought on “Our Own Narrative

  1. Thank you John for sharing about your mom. If my mom were still here today she would be 96. She too lived through all the world events, good and bad, that your mom witnessed. She too got through it all by holding on to her strong faith. Having been abandoned by her own mother at 2 years old, she created her own narrative of always being there for her seven children. She lost twins in childbirth only to be blessed with another set years later. She believed God wanted her to have twins! She raised us all while struggling with an alcoholic husband and very little money. But her strength and faith remained strong. I see it now reflected in all her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren. She taught her lessons well. I don’t think she ever heard the phrase, create your own narrative, but she had her own way of saying it. When one of her children was bemoaning their day she would always say- this day will be exactly what you make it. Thank you mom for giving me such a wonderful family and for sharing your faith, strength and wisdom-even when we were teenagers and didn’t want to hear it! Donna Roberts

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