Editor’s note: In celebration of Mother’s Day, Missioner Cindy Mizes honors and reflects on the life of her supportive and caring mother.
Last Valentine’s Day, I sent my mom one dozen pink roses to let her know how much I love her. But nothing on this earth could begin to express the depth of my love to a woman whose courage, strength, grace and faith in God helped shape me to become the woman I am today.
My Mom’s name is Mary, just like our blessed Mother to whom we dedicate the month of May. Mom was 92 when I decided to start my vocation as an overseas missioner. My greatest fear in becoming a missioner was that I would never see my mom alive again. But while in prayer one night, I heard the Lord asking me if I trusted him. “Of course, Lord, you know I trust you.” His response: “Then, why don’t you believe that I will take care of her?” That’s all I needed to know.
When I told Mom that I decided to retire, sell everything, and become a missioner for God and go overseas to some far-off country for two years, she never tried to persuade me not to leave. Rather, mom was one of my strongest supporters, insisting to contribute a monthly donation from her small social security income to my fundraising for mission. It didn’t matter how much she donated; Mom’s support was priceless to me because it meant I had her blessing. This didn’t make it any easier to leave, but I trusted in God and His promise.
While enroute to Jamaica, I called Mom at the Miami Airport to tell her how much I loved her and that I would be staying in touch with her while in Jamaica. She sounded unusually sad. The next time I tried to call her was on Ash Wednesday. I had been in Jamaica only 6 days, and I was missing her terribly. I just needed to hear her voice and tell her I love her. There was no answer. Three hours later, I received a text from my brother that Mom had suffered a major stroke while at home where she lived by herself. Two days later, I was on a plane back to Texas to be with her before she passed. She died that Sunday.
Mom entered into her last suffering and earthly death during Lent, the time Christians enter into Christ’s Passion and death. Like Christ, Mom emptied herself so she could be filled with the grace and love of God and share that grace and love with everyone she met every day of her life. Similar to our Blessed Mother, she also humbled herself, surrendering her will to the will of Christ. I believe she would have preferred me to stay home with her and enjoy the final days of her life instead of leaving on mission. But she understood what it meant to be called by Christ. Mom was a living saint and true disciple of Christ Mom volunteered with the Foster Grandparent program since 1980, tending God’s lambs, until the day the Lord took her home.
In going through Mom’s small apartment, I found many small prayers, Scripture verses, and reflections that she hand-wrote on bits of scrap paper, back of envelopes, or note pads and then posted them all throughout her apartment. There was not a moment or a day in her life when she didn’t honor and praise her Lord. What a treasure she left us!
Mom’s death challenged my faith in a way I could never have imagined. God kept his promise that he would take care of my mother while I was on mission. I just didn’t realize at the time that He meant taking her into Paradise to be with Him.
After burying mom, I returned to Jamaica to the work God had called me to. Together with my community of Sisters, I celebrated Christ’s Resurrection and His promise of everlasting life that Mom is celebrating today.
I’m certain Mom is praying for me from above. I also now realize that this mission is not only an answer to God’s call, it is also an extension of Mom’s legacy that will live in my heart forever, until the day I enter into God’s promise of everlasting life, where roses of every color bloom with incorruptible grace and beauty, just like Mom.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I LOVE YOU!
Reflection Question: Take some time today to reflect on the strong women, mothers, grandmothers, and spiritual mothers who have supported and cared for you. How can you show your gratitude for them this Mother’s Day?