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A Motherless Daughter
Life without my mom
There was always one day that I felt totally left out. One day where I was reminded of loss, of grief, of what I never could have. One day every year to mourn, to put on a tough exterior and smile through my pain. One day that I wanted to stay home and hide. What day? Mother's Day. Every year another reminder that I am a motherless daughter. My mother died when I was just six years old. She left me suddenly and unexpectedly. For the next 27 years (until I became a mother myself), Mother's day was hard. There have been other hard days. The day I turned 37, the day I got married, the days my babies were born. For my mother was just 37 when she died. She wasn't there to plan my wedding, to celebrate my babies. All I have are faded, foggy memories and pictures. But I have a hope and a promise.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
My mother, Betty Jean Adams Montgomery
Touching lives of children through teaching
My mother was a coal miner's daughter from the Appalachian Mountains in Western, PA. She grew up in a large family full of love. She went to Eastern Nazarene College in Wollaston, Massachusetts to get her teaching degree. There she met my father, Robert Montgomery and they married. After graduation, they settled in Coatesville, PA. My mother began her teaching career at Terry Elementary School in the Coatesville School District. My mother touched the lives of many children throughout her years teaching. My sister was born in 1961. After a few years, my parents relocated to Lancaster County. I was born in 1963. My mother was instrumental in beginning a daycare at her church, Ephrata Nazarene. She was the director and we grew up in nursery school there. My mother returned to teaching in the Ephrata School District. She taught third grade and was well-loved by her students and fellow teachers alike. I was so excited to go to first grade; my mother would be at the same school! Unfortunately it did not last. Before the year was done, my mother would be gone in an instant. It was April, 1970, near Easter.
This photo is one of the favorites I have of my mother. It's from 1958. My mother, the teacher at Terry Elementary School.
Our Family - 1967
The unthinkable happens
The last time I saw my mother
I can remember the night my mother got sick. I vividly remember that she was lying on our brown couch in the living room. The doctor came to our house. My sister and I were sent upstairs, but we were peeking, hiding on the stairs. My mother was throwing up. I don't remember my mother ever being sick, except for that one instance. We went to bed and off to school the next day. When we got home from school, Mommy was not home. Dad said that the ambulance had come to take her to the hospital. She felt silly, not sick enough to ride in the ambulance. In 1970, children were not allowed to visit hospital patients. We drew her pictures and wrote her notes. She started in the ICU (I think) and then was moved to a regular room. They could not find what was wrong with her. They thought she was getting better. If only they had the technology that they have today! An MRI would have found the problem. But in 1970 there was no such thing as an MRI. I vaguely remember going to the hospital and standing outside looking up at a window and waving to her. I am not positive that really happened, but I think it did. My memory is so fuzzy -- I was only 6 years old and it was a traumatic time. My sister and I went on our daily life for the week Mommy was in the hospital. I am pretty sure that our Grammy came to stay with us. I do remember cards and drawings from her third grade students. One morning I sat upon my Daddy's lap in the rocking chair and told him a story. When I was done, he said he had something to tell me too. "Your mother died this morning." It didn't even mean anything to me at the time. It didn't hit me. It hit me later, years later, over and over.
Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion according to the greatness of his unfailing love. For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow. Lamentations 3:32-33 NLT
Help and hope for healing for Motherless Daughters
Why can't I remember?
I know that my mother loved me dearly. She hand made many of my clothes. I have lots of vague impressions of my mother, but I don't have many solid, concrete memories. My sister, who was 3 years older than I at the time our mother died, has lots of memories. She remembers conversations, times spent together, laughing with Mommy. I don't. Occasionally I willl get a strong reminder--a smell of perfume that suddenly brings it all back. My mother kept scrapbooks of my work, she carefully preserved my early writing and artwork. These things are precious to me. I now know how much time it takes to document a childhood. I know that we spent summers in Florida with my grandparents, but somehow those things that I truly long to remember, I can't. I am thankful for the photographs, the scrapbooks and the reminders of my mother. This picture was from a trip to Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, PA.
Help for children coping with grief...
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
Romans 8:28 NIV
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