At first the signs might have been easy to ignore. She was already "chasing" four yard apes between the ages of 5-14; I can only imagine her own mixed emotions of having turned 40, the disbelief of family, friends and those in our small community....even when words go unsaid, you can tell what people are thinking. Pregnant with a fifth child? Surely not! When Don and I announced that we were expecting Christian (I was ONLY 33), a child of about 7 brazenly said directly to me, "Eeeeeewwwww! That means you've had SEX!".
I was always jealous of my older siblings; they got three things I always wanted but never had: braces, glasses and my parents young energy and attention. At 50, my parenting is much more relaxed than it was at 30! I have come to realize that there are only so many hills you can die on. If you fight every battle there will be no reserve left when the big things really worth fighting for arrive on the scene. As a kid, I never had a curfew. They didn't wait up for me. Don't remember getting spanked more than once. Always had a car to drive and gas money handed to me. I remember telling Mom as a college student that I wish I had received more discipline as a child and watched her jaw drop.
I didn't see the positive side, until I reached adulthood. With the departure of older siblings, Mom was able to pursue some things that she couldn't before. We always had guests in our home because Mom loved people and had a genuine gift for hospitality. I remember distinctly three women who visited on several occassions from Nashville and led meetings in our little church. These women were so passionate about God and they prayed over our home and our family. I never witnessed it firsthand, mind you. Each time they visited, while Dad was busy at work, I was sent outside to play if I was at home. The conversation and prayer would ensue. If I was lucky I would peak in the back door and catch snippets of what was said before being shewed away. Burned indellibly to my memory: how these women loved Jesus, loved us and made a huge difference in my life, because they befriended my Mama.
I did not realize until the last few years that they were probably praying for the five very independent Uible kids with large personalities.....Praying for us to know the same Jesus who ever so gradually changed my Mama. Some kids may have seen an about face in an alcoholic or abusive parent. One who suddenly went from running away from God ran and u-turned so as to run to Him. Mine was already going to church every time the doors were open. Already reading the Bible each morning. Leading the United Methodist Women. The hard outer shell and biting sarcasm began to soften......not in hours or days. It took awhile, but it came ever so slowly, ever so quietly. She began to hug, smile more and really enjoy life.
By the time I was old enough to appreciate my Mom and her gifts, the dementia had begun gnaw away at the vibrant, active, fighting woman I had come to love. So, Mama, in your honor I'm trying to become the best of what I saw in you: a warrior who passionately loves God, her family, her church and her community. May your legacy live on through me!