Today would have been my Mom’s 65th birthday.
Janet Louise Kroft (I have her middle name) was the most beautiful woman in the world. I know every little girl believes that her mother is the most beautiful woman in the world, but in all my 45 years, I still believe this about my Mom.
She grew up in an emotionally abusive home and married a man who promised her a way out. I often asked her if she regretted marrying Bio-Dad since they divorced after five years. She would get teary-eyed and remind me that if she hadn’t married him she wouldn’t have my sister Marie and me, and that was worth everything.
When I was nine she married my Dad. During the worst of his drinking, I watched as she prayed and cried to God to save him. I saw a woman committed to her husband, in easy times and hard times, and a woman who helped lead her husband to God because of her faithfulness not only to God but to my Dad as well. She taught me what it meant to vow “for better or worse”, and she was the example I followed when I had to make a similar decision about my own marriage.
Mom had a sharp wit and a tongue that matched it. If you were on the receiving end of her wit, it meant that she loved you greatly. She used to tell people, “If I ignore you, I don’t like you!” She also had a laugh that sent joy through my heart.
The abuse my Mom experienced growing up could have colored the way she treated her own children. While it left scars that I will never fully understand, she chose to raise her children differently. She was most definitely the authority and expected her children to be respectful and well-behaved. She encouraged us in everything we wanted to try. She cheered the loudest and laughed the loudest and cried the happiest tears for our accomplishments. I was never afraid of her… but absolutely terrified of disappointing her.
The last few years of her life, Mom was struggling with kidney failure, diabetes and congestive heart failure. She was losing her eyesight and had horrible arthritis in her feet. Through all of it, she never complained or felt sorry for herself. She had a quiet strength that hid what was going on with and in her body. She spent time caring for others with her work with Gilead Ministries as their administrative assistant and volunteering with her church.
In 2000, Mom had a quadruple bypass. Before she went into surgery I completely fell apart and felt I was losing her. She held me close and whispered in my ear, “Baby, the promise in the Bible is real. If I live, that’s wonderful, because I get to spend more time with all of you. And if I die, I get to be with Jesus. You see? I can’t lose!”
Two years ago next week, the most beautiful woman in the world became the most beautiful woman in heaven. I personally think Jesus gets the better end of the deal.
Until the day I get to see both of them face-to-face.
Jesus on one side. Mom on the other. I can’t lose!