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Just dropping by ... One virtuous woman

Yevet Tenney for Progressive Dairy Published on 07 May 2021

Two seasons in my life I have dreaded the coming of Mother’s Day. Once when I was single and now that my mother has passed on.

In my single days, I always felt left out of festivities. I bought cards and gifts for my mother, but I felt like the bug in a flowerbed. Everyone was kind with a token card or the “Your day will come,” compassionate obligation sentiments, but I still felt terribly alone.

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Now, it’s different. I am part of the flowerbed, and my children bless me with cards and flowers, but I miss my mother. I miss being able to sit with her and listen to stories of her childhood and growing-up years. I miss being able to call her on the phone to ask a gardening or genealogy question. Though she only had an eighth-grade education, she was one of the wisest women I ever encountered. She never stopped learning and growing. One might say, she was the embodiment of Proverbs 31:

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
—Proverbs 31:10-12 KJV

My mother was a virtuous woman. The legacy she left was far above any worldly possession. Precious stones, cars, money and even houses and land are of little value if you do not know how to live a life in peace and harmony. Any treasure on the earth pales in comparison to a child’s feet firmly planted on the path to true happiness. My mother helped me find that path.

I don’t think Mother had an immoral bone in her body. She was only 15 when she married, and before she turned 16, my father went to England to fight in the war for three- and-a-half years. She was faithful in thought and action. She spent her time working to buy a house for them to live in when he came home. It wasn’t a savory job behind a desk or in store. She did laundry for boys on a dude ranch. She didn’t have a modern washer or dryer. She used a scrub board, hung the clothes on the line and used a stove iron heated on a wood cookstove to make the shirts, trousers, sheets and pillowcases white as crisp linen. Her work ethic didn’t stop there. All her life was filled with gardening, canning, genealogy, and raising kids and cattle.

My father trusted her with nearly everything: finances, raising the children and food for winter. He worked long hours to provide for his growing family. I don’t remember her complaining about the long days and short nights or the load she carried as she planted and watered the garden without running water. I remember she wept tears of gratitude when the first water bubbled through the pipes after Daddy drilled the well.

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She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
—Proverbs 13: 13-19 KJV

She made the best of what she had. I know there were times when finances were short and the wolf at the door went hungry, but she always found extra to share with those around her. She taught me by example to honor my father and in turn, to honor my husband. It wasn’t by lecture, or long lists of verbal and written rules, but by the way she treated my father. She fixed dinner and we waited for him to come home. She edified him in conversations and referred us to him when we had a problem. She probably could have given us the same advice, but she wanted to be on the same page with him. They were a team. There was no battle of the sexes, no tricks or shenanigans. Everything was wide open between them.

Mother was frugal and lived by the principle, make do with what you have. She made our clothes on the old Singer sewing machine and made sure we were dressed properly every year when we started school. She made hundreds of quilts. At her funeral, we lined the pews of the chapel with quilts she had made for people in the community. There were quilts to adorn nearly every room in the church. None of them were the same, and many were appliqued satins on satin. We didn’t bring the crocheted or embroidered items she had made; there simply wasn’t room.

She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
—Proverbs 13: 20-23 KJV

Her garden was never really hers. She did the work, but everyone joyed in the harvest. There wasn’t a speck of the Little Red Hen in her. If she had it, she would share. I remember in her later years, she and Daddy didn’t eat much, but they would bottle upward of 1,500 bottles of produce and give it to family and friends. All she asked was that the bottles be returned so she could do it again the following year.

She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
—Proverbs 13: 24 KJV

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My mother made many things. There was a time when she quilted quilts for women who wanted to pay her, but it was never close to the time she put into them. She never wanted anyone to feel cheated, so she took the short end of the stick.

Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
—Proverbs 13: 25-27 KJV

Mother’s crowning glory was her faith. We knew that when Mother said she didn’t feel good about something, we didn’t do it, not because she forced us, but because we knew she had a special connection with God. Once, we were excited to go swimming. We dressed in our bathing suits, grabbed our towels and jumped in the car. She sat down behind the wheel and with a troubled look she said, “I don’t feel like we should go swimming.” We were disappointed, but we didn’t argue. We decided to go to a ballgame instead. When my older brother stood up to bat, the ball hit him in the forehead and he sank to the ground. Mother was there to make sure he was alright. If we had gone to swim, he would have been there alone.

Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.

Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
—Proverbs 13: 28-31 KJV

Years have come and gone, and my mother has realized the promise of her children and grandchildren rising to call her blessed. Her works will praise her long after her body has returned to dust. Who can find a virtuous woman? I did and I praise God for it. end mark

Yevet Crandell Tenney is a Christian columnist who loves American values and traditions. She writes about faith, family and freedom.

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