Mother's Tear-Stained Notebook


The first time I noticed what lovely handwriting my mother had was on a note she had written to my first grade teacher: “Please excuse Mariane’s absence from school last week. She has been ill with measles.” Mother’s handwriting always appeared unhurried, carefully constructed, using the correct Palmer method of writing, and easily readable.

Mother lived to be 96 years old. During her lifetime she must have written thousands of letters to family and friends in nearly every part of the world. Her writing was distinctively hers and I have in my possession several letters she wrote to me through the years.

After losing two godly husbands to cancer, Mother chose to move to a Christian assisted living facility in Pennsylvania because she didn’t want to “be a burden” to any of her children. For sixteen years she lived comfortably there, loved by all the residents and staff, and regularly visiting her children in several states.

After she passed away ten years ago, all four of her living daughters asked the same question: “What happened to Mother’s spiral notebook?” It was a priceless item that any of us would have loved to own. Sadly, it was never found. Whether it was taken by a caring nurse who loved Mother, or tossed in the trash by someone not knowing its eternal worth, we don’t know.

It was a blue spiral notebook, dog-eared and tear-stained. It was always within reach of her nursing center bed where she picked it up several times during the day and the long, pain-piercing nights.

At the top of the first seven pages were the names of her seven children. Listed below, were their children and their grandchildren. Beside each name was a prayer request:

“Help John find a good nurse.” (John, her youngest son, suffered from supranuclear palsy of the brain. His progressive illness broke her heart.)

“Jeff needs a job.”

“Thank You for touching Norma. “

Some names were followed by a blank space. Those blanks represented a special need in that person’s life that Mother only discussed privately with her Lord. Or they were confidential prayer requests that Mother honored until she died.

Throughout the rest of the notebook were names of friends, preachers, missionaries she corresponded with, churches she prayed for, world leaders, special ministries. Her book was a reflection of every interest in her life, everyone that she held dear.

Near the end there were several blank pages. No names, no dates, no information was listed. Those empty pages trouble me.

If Mother had lived longer, those pages would have been filled. Who, I wonder, is not being prayed for now that she’s gone? Whose lives might have been changed had she been given both the honor and responsibility of faithfully praying for them and their needs? Who has stepped into the gap Mother left to pray for those who would have been listed on those empty pages?

“I have given myself to prayer,” Paul wrote to the Romans (?) Mother, in the final years when she was bedridden, suffered unbelievably excruciating pain from double curvature of the spine, head to toe arthritis, sciatica, neuropathy, bursitis, congestive heart failure and a painful broken leg that never healed properly.

Yet every day she sang aloud God’s praises for comfort, read the Word and immersed herself in prayer with the help of a little spiral, tear-stained, dog-eared notebook which surely now rests in a glass-enclosed place of high honor in the sacred halls of heaven.

Mariane Holbrook mariane777@bellsouth.net

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