She Never Raised the White Flag

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” ~ Proverbs 31:28-29

Mama dressed for prom, 1964
Mama dressed for prom, 1964

I’m sure there were plenty of times she wanted to raise the white flag. To surrender to the endless litany of to-do’s, three cantankerous kids and the mounting pile of laundry. To just throw up her hands and say, “That’s it. I’m done.”

But she didn’t.

My mom isn’t one who enjoys being the center of attention. She’s always been happy working behind the scenes or cheering from the stands. But today, the Friday before Mother’s Day, I want to shine a little of the spotlight on her—because she deserves it.

Mama married Daddy when she was just 18-years-old and had me a mere 9-1/2 months later. Pretty much all of her adult life has been devoted to motherhood.

Mom and dad
Mom and Dad

Soon after they married, Daddy, an Army Sergeant, was stationed in Stuttgart, Germany. He had to go over first and she followed later—an 18-year-old teenager flying to a non-English-speaking country—alone and pregnant.

I can’t even imagine.

Once there, she went through the remainder of her pregnancy without the luxury of conversations with her mom about any questions or fears she may have had. Long distance calls were expensive and few.

Mama holding me shortly after I was born
Mama holding me shortly after I was born

She lived with Daddy in a little house off base that had a couple of other tenants—none of them English-speaking—a shared bath and an unheated kitchen. I remember her saying there were numerous times she went into the shared kitchen and had to chop up the jelly from the cupboard because it was frozen.

While Daddy was away all day, she devoured the books my grandmother sent, reading them over again and again. She also made sure not to miss the daily one hour English-speaking radio broadcast. Once I was born things didn’t improve much. As much as Mama wanted me around to keep her company, I preferred sleeping. So she read while I slept the day away.

Family photo 1966
The last family photo taken before Daddy shipped out to Vietnam

When I was one-year-old, we flew back to the States. This time she was pregnant with my brother, Ricky. Six weeks after he was born, Daddy was sent to fight in Vietnam and Mama brought us back home to live with Grandma and Grandpa.

She doesn’t talk much about the year he was gone, just that she refused to watch the news while he was away.

The day Daddy came home from Vietnam
The day Daddy came home from Vietnam

Once Daddy returned safe and sound, he suggested to Mom that he re-enlist. Mom strongly disagreed (by claiming she’d divorce him if he did) and the matter was settled. He left the Army for civilian life.

Three years and five days after my brother was born, I had a sister, Lisa. By that time mom and dad had bought a small house and Daddy was a truck driver. It wasn’t the easiest life for either of them. Dad was gone most of the time and mom was almost solely responsible for three small children. Who could blame her for sometimes having a short fuse with us?

Lisa, me and Ricky with Mom and Dad
Lisa, me and Ricky with Mom and Dad
disney world
Me, Lisa and Ricky with Mama at Disney World, 1974

After several moves, we finally ended up in the little town of Fountain Inn, where my parents still live today. I was fourteen when we moved and Mama decided it was time for her to get a job. She worked four ten-hour days in a plant and I became responsible for making supper each night. She’d tell me what to cook and I’d have it ready when she walked in the door. Since Daddy was still driving a truck, he was gone most nights. Even though I know Mama was bone-tired from working a long day, she’d listen to all of us chatter about our day around that supper table. Sometimes we’d stay for over an hour, talking and laughing and sharing. I guess that’s why those times are still so precious to me—we had her undivided attention as long as we remained at the table.

Limoges family 1982
Ricky, me, Mama, Lisa and Daddy around 1982

As each of us grew up and moved away, our bond with Mama grew stronger. She’s always been there—from helping with yard work, to painting and fixing up our “new” old home, to taking care of the grandkids when needed, she’s almost always available. She’s a great listener and makes it easy for me to share all that’s going on in our lives.

Family portrait, 2004
Family portrait, 2004

Mama has always made home a welcoming place, inviting us often to come back for birthday dinners and holidays or just because she’d love to see us. She and Daddy have shown us the importance of family and that it’s the greatest thing we have aside from Jesus.

Jacob licking Mom's face
My son, Jacob, licking Mom’s face 🙂
Mom and great-granddaughter Blakely
Mom and great-granddaughter Blakely

We love her homemade spaghetti, carrot cake and jell-o boxed cheesecake (hey, nobody makes it like Mama does). We love hearing her announce every Christmas her “we spent the same amount on each one of you, so don’t get upset if someone gets more gifts than you” speech. She loves to sing and has passed that gift on to my daughter.

The Limoges Family, 2014
The Limoges Family, 2014

She is good and strong, loving and compassionate. I’m proud to call her my mom.

Mama and Daddy with me, Rick and Lisa
Mama and Daddy with me, Rick and Lisa

Happy Mother’s Day, Mama. Thank you for all of the hours you’ve invested in us, taking us to church, teaching us good manners and judging right from wrong. For showing us an example of kindness and instructing Lisa and me to “stand up straight and be proud of what you’ve got!”. Thank you for all the love and time and energy you’ve poured into us. And thank you for never raising the white flag of surrender, although I know you must have been tempted on more than one occasion. After all, you were outnumbered! You’re amazing and I love you!

Bob and June
My mother-in-law and father-in-law, June and Bob Roper

I can’t let this day go by without also saying Happy Mother’s Day to the best mother-in-law in the world. God gave me such a gift when he brought me into the Roper family. I love you, June, and am grateful for the influence you’ve had on me, as well. You’ve taught me much about life and loving others well.

Have you been blessed with a wonderful mother? Make sure to tell her how much she means to you this Mother’s Day. I’d be honored for you to give her a shout-out here.

6 thoughts on “She Never Raised the White Flag”

  1. My Mother is gone now, but she was the greatest Mom alive while she lived I miss her so very much.

    • I’m so sorry for your loss, Beatrice. I’m glad you had the privilege of having such a wonderful mom. I’ll be praying for you this Mother’s Day.

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