1. Did you laugh or cry, or both, while you were writing your story?
Ellen Cardwell: Surprisingly, I didn’t do either. Rather, writing the story released something inside that needed to come out. I feel lighter now whenever Mom comes to mind.
Treva Brown: I completely did both. I also felt anger, but was able to fully release it quickly.
Ardis Nelson: I went away to a secluded camp so I could focus on writing and prayer. I cried at times. Now my tears are tears of joy.
Kerry Luksic: In writing this story, I had plenty of tears. My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s eight years ago. It was hard to accept that there’s no cure and that it’s progressive–Mom would only get worse through each heartbreaking stage. But in sharing this story, the tears I shed were healing for me.
Loritta Slayton: I don’t think I did either, but I felt the emotions again–the upset, the struggle and the joy of what God accomplished in me that I couldn’t do for myself.
Kyleen Stevenson-Braxton: I always cry when I write about God’s grace in giving me two beautiful adopted children. It reminds me afresh of his mercy and love.
2. What do you especially relate to in one or more of the other women’s stories?
A.R. (Alice) Cecil: I can relate to all the other authors in JOURNEYS TO MOTHER LOVE. We all found the only way to healing is through Jesus Christ, and we all want to help others by sharing our experience.
Catherine Lawton: Treva Brown tells of how her mother died even younger than mine did (and by much more violent circumstances). I relate to her regret over some of the words she had said to her mother, and wishing she had said certain other words before it was too late.
Ellen: The last part of Loritta Slayton’s story, “White Knuckles,” took me back to when my mother needed my help and our roles were reversed. God encouraged and enabled her to let go of hurt feelings and journey down the path to love.
Treva: In “Walking My Mother Home” Ardis Nelson wrote, “I was embracing the parts of my mother that were in me.” I am currently doing that now, so it really touched my heart.
Ardis: I think I was the most moved by Loritta’s story. I felt her pain with each decision she made along her journey with her mother. The ending to her story was a fitting ending to the book—very encouraging.
Loritta: The emotional process of their hurts being released to God and their journeys of walking it out with Him speak to me. I was moved by Treva’s descriptions of this process.
3. In what point in your relationship with your mother or child did you realize you needed relational healing?
Alice: My mother was always closer to me than any of her other children; I sensed her unhappiness and wanted to try to be there for her. Then in my early twenties I left home for the city to work. Transported into the world, I began to see not all the ways in my childhood home matched the ordinary way of going about life.
Catherine: The need in my heart became evident when I was going through grief over my mother’s death. As you can read in the book, the Lord has ways of healing our relationships even when separated by distance, disease or death.
Ellen: When I was a new Christian and learned how important it was to forgive others. Also at that time, the relationship with our mothers was a topic of discussion with my close friends, all of whom felt they had emotional gaps that their parents, especially their mothers, hadn’t filled.
Treva: Years after she died. It was a hard journey because I was unable to talk to my mom and hear her respond. But I wouldn’t change a thing, for that is where I truly encountered God.
Loritta: I knew most of my life that it wasn’t what it should be. But when I read A Daughter’s Journey Home, by Dr. Linda Mintle, some of the pieces of the puzzle came into focus. I began to pray about my relationship with my mother and ask God to work in us. And my journaling with God and the listening practice opened the door significantly.
4. What makes the mother/child relationship so significant?
Ardis: I think the mother/child relationship is a mirror of the love our heavenly father has for us.
Kerry: I never realized until I had my own children, but at the end of the day, a mother’s love for a child is the strongest bond that exists.
Kyleen: I think that, since I wanted children and was unable to have them, it has made me appreciate what so many women take for granted. I envy the blessings of being pregnant, of giving birth, of seeing your features in your child’s face, of knowing they came from your body. But God has taught me that he is the maker of families, and I am blessed knowing that Jesus, too, was adopted (by Joseph). So my children are to me the very face of God. To me they represent all that he is – his goodness, kindness, and love.
5. What events, sensory experiences, etc., trigger your memories of your mother?
Catherine: My mother had a quip, saying, or song for every situation or occasion, it seemed. Those sayings and songs pop into my head often and remind me of her. I still “hear” her voice.
Ellen: Going to the farmer’s market, smelling apple pies baking … sewing, bringing flowers into the house … Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
Treva: A certain Dolly Parton song, camping and eating spaghetti. My mom loved spaghetti.
Ardis: This may sound strange, but I think I am most reminded of my mother in my writing and speaking opportunities. I feel that she would be proud of me for who I am finally becoming, and that gives me a great sense of her presence with me. In a way, this makes up for not having her there when I was young.
Loritta: She enjoyed flowers and colors in shades of purples, aquas, violets. Just this week I walked past orchids in the grocery store that are tinted in those tones and thought of her.
6. Do you ever see your mom in yourself?
Catherine: Every time I make the choice and the effort to be positive, to engage with other people when I feel like pulling away … I think of my mother who modeled those attitudes to me.
Ellen: Yes. She had an authoritative way of speaking. She would make pronouncements (not always based on facts), pontificate, and discourage discussion. I still find myself sounding like her, even though I’ve tried for years to overcome it. When I notice myself doing the same thing, it lets me know how ingrained her attitudes were/are in me. I feel frustrated that it’s still there inside my personality. Then I’m motivated to revisit my efforts to change and make it more of a priority to do so.
Treva: At times I do. I used to despise it. But God was able to bring me to a place of embracing those characteristics and bring me more understanding of my mom.
Verna Hill Simms: I remind myself of Mother every time I sit in the living room and watch for the mail carrier. Mail means a lot to me as it did to her.
Ardis: This question hits to the core area of my personal healing when my mother died. I was able to integrate and embrace the parts of my mother that I had been rejecting all my life. Thanks to the Lord’s work in me, I am no longer embarrassed by our similarities.
Kerry: Yes. I especially see my mom in myself when I’m faced with a tough challenge. My mom never gave up on anything and she leaned on her faith during the hardest times. When I’m going through a tough time, I think of mom and follow her example. Whenever I feel like life is a bit too hard, I remember my mom’s example and immediately feel stronger.
7. In what way is mother love a journey?
Alice: I wonder how God would have brought me along without children! I know there are people who do not have children and who have a deep relationship with God, but God knew I needed children!
Ellen: For me, mother love grew from an unrealistic ideal to a reality based on experience. Each stage of our children’s growth, from elementary school to junior high to high school has challenges of its own. As I journeyed along with my children, my love was tested, strengthened and developed through the ups and downs they experienced. My love grew from the tenderest feelings for our infants to caring for their needs while juggling other responsibilities, to tough love as they tested boundaries. Mother love survived the smooth and rocky places along the path because, I believe, it originates in God’s love for us all.
Ardis: I am seeing this theme poignantly in my life now. Just today I had a conversation with my 15 year old son about this. We had connecting time while attending a doctor’s appointment. I didn’t have any of that with my parents. I am embracing the journey of learning how to mother anew, be a “sister” to Rosa, an “aunt” to Pedro, and a daughter to my stepmother. This journey is connecting me with my heart and allowing me to share it with others.
Kerry: Mother love is a journey because life is a journey. There are ups and there are downs; there are moments of joy and moments of sheer pain; but through all of it, love is the foundation. My mom has progressed to the advanced-stage of Alzheimer’s and this is the final destination in our journey. Alzheimer’s is a heartbreaking disease, but I have peace knowing that at the end of my mom’s journey here on earth, she will be rewarded for her lifetime of love. faith, and determination–the gift of Heaven.
Loritta: You can’t understand everything from one vantage point. You have to climb that mountain and look back sometimes, and other times you just have to put your hand in God’s and let Him talk to you about what you need to know that only He can reveal in a way that you can receive.
Kyleen: Learning to love unconditionally, to bring out the best in your children, to be their cheerleader and to guide them with kindness is not always easy, especially when your own relationship with your mother was strained. Still, it is a noble and worthy endeavor. This is the journey God asks us to take as mothers.