The culture will soon be celebrating Mother’s Day. I have many memories as a child of the annual celebration of my mom, Lola Fern (Phillips) Thornton. Now since my celebration of her relies totally upon my memory since she has passed away, I cling to them as the valuable treasure they are. Almost daily her influence continues to be felt within me and leaves me both full of praise of God for His good gift and sadness as I dearly miss her.
One of the memories from Mothers Day’s of the past is always wearing a flower in the lapel of my suit that Sunday when attending Church. I learned that my mom would always wear a white flower because her mother was deceased but I wore a red flower. When my dad’s mother passed away in 1979, I remember the shift in his flower color when Mother’s Day rolled around.
Another memory involves my brother and me trying to find a good gift that would please our mom. We struggled mightily each year to get it done. I think we wanted to find just the perfect gift but wasn’t really sure what a “mom” liked. Buying something for my dad for Father’s Day was really easy. We knew he at that time loved to smoke White Owl Cigars. The day before Father’s Day my brother and I would stroll into the local grocery store and buy a box of said cigars. My how the world has changed! Mom was tougher to figure out though. She didn’t have a lot of hobbies as she was busy providing amazing meals, a sparkling clean house, crisp ironed clothes and working about 35 hours a week besides. Yikes!
One year my brother and I got really inspired. We had somehow figured out that girls/women like to smell good and would go to great lengths to do so. Mom didn’t really wear much if any perfumes so we figured that we would remedy that. We strolled in Kingsolver’s Drug Store on the square of our hometown of Garnett, Kansas and began the quest for the perfect “scent” for our mom. I don’t know how long it took to finally settle upon our choice but after smelling what seemed like dozens of possible scents, we settled upon our choice. Part of what influenced our choice was the logic possessed by 2 pre-teen boys who knew nothing about perfume: intensity of smell and cost!
Our choice met both criteria! It was the strongest smelling scent we could find for the amount of money we had to spend. We were thinking that like with a lot of things you should try to get the “biggest bang for your buck!” And so we did. It was wrapped in a fancy box with lots of ribbon and it looked really special. We couldn’t wait for her reaction when she opened it. We just knew she would love it and couldn’t wait to give it a try.
Mom opened the present and immediately gushed over it. She was grateful we had taken the time to go and spend our money to make her feel special. At our urging she opened it up and sprayed some of it herself. Looking back on it now, I know mom was being very gracious when she gushed about how much she liked it. It was one of those scents that kind of enters a room before you and trails behind you as your are leaving. Mission accomplished! Well sort of.
A few days later I noticed something weird. I noticed that mom hadn’t worn any of the new perfume since that first time she tried it on. Thinking she had probably forgotten that she had received this extravagant gift I decided to ask her about it. She told me that she hadn’t been wearing it because she was saving it for “special occasion”. She said it was so nice that thought it should be saved and only used on special days or to special events. That made sense to me and I never really thought about it again. Well, not until many, many years later when visiting mom and dad in their later years. The specific occasion was in 2012 and it was when my brother and I along with our wives were helping mom and dad sort through the 50 years of stuff they had accumulated while living in that house in preparation to move to a retirement village. In the course of that purging, I encountered the bottle of perfume. Now at least 50 years old, the bottle was still nearly full.
This discovery left me with many questions. Was this the same bottle of perfume purchased by my brother and I decades before? How come it was still so full? Do you want to take it with you to your new home or discard it? My mom graciously explained that yes, it was the same bottle and that indeed it was very special to her. It was special, not because of the scent inside but because it was from our hearts. She then gently let me know that it was not exactly “her scent”. Since I, at that moment was over 50 years old myself, I was able to hear her in the spirit she meant. Mom wasn’t into fancy perfumes but the truth is she did have a very distinctive scent. Mom loved the smell of Dove soap. If you were to be near her and especially when she shared a hug you would pick it up. In case you are wondering, the bottle of perfume in question has made its way to Mississippi! Camille has placed it with her perfumes and it is the one included in the picture with this blog post.
More importantly, my mom walked in such a way that carried the beautiful aroma of grace, love, acceptance, friendship, humility and service. My mom was a Proverbs 31 kind of lady. I would encourage you to check out that chapter of God’s Word as you think about the ladies in your life. I deeply miss my mom and can’t wait to see and hug her again in the New Heaven and New Earth. In the meantime, a bar of Dove soap remains in a drawer of her things at our house to help me! Happy Mother’s Day!