Thursday, March 10, 2016


Mom died on December 22nd.  She fell on December 17th... her 4th fall in 2 weeks.  Her last fall required dental surgery and the bleeding on her brain was too great for recovery.  In the end, with Chris and I by her side, she was released from the bondage of dementia and was whole again.  While I'm unsure what the first moments looked like as she crossed through the pearly gates, I feel certain she immediately combed her hair, brushed her beautiful teeth, and then set about doing the business of heaven-ing.

The loss of Mom was so very different than any of my other losses... we lost her long ago due to that nasty disease.  I've wanted to share with you all some of my thoughts on that... but before I do, thought it might be best to share the words that I shared at her funeral.


Chris and I grew up in this church. Our roles were very different: Chris would sit in the sound room which he helped develop. I would sit with Kristen at the piano, in the choir loft, or right up here, or more often with Mom- midway back on that left side, right at the aisle, and just behind Glenda and Jack Roberts.

The times I was up here are the ones that sit in my memory most about my Mother.  Each time I spoke, or sang, or spoke some more... I would see her- not beaming with pride as you might imagine... but sitting anxiously tense- wondering what words would come next out of my mouth.  She was nervous because not only was I her daughter, but I was Stan’s daughter... and he didn’t pass down a lot of filter in the ol’ gene pool.  I was so proud of a speech one time that I gave at our eighth grade graduation... only to come home to Mom saying “I canNOT believe you told all of those people THAT story.”  My Mother was a painfully private person... and while I might have thought it totally acceptable that you guys hear that Katha Phillips drove me home to get things I’d forgotten to get because my Mom was out of town and Chris and I woke up late and had to rush to school and he told me we didn’t have time to go back... Mom wasn’t so in love with the idea that all of the people in attendance at Enka Middle know that gem.  Nor would she love that I just told you all again, but what are you going to do.

So this morning I have the freedom of telling you some of the things about my Mother’s life without worrying about her being tense and hearing them.  Because this morning she is anxious no more- unless Jesus has a dirty kitchen which might push her over the edge- and I get to tell you some of the things I love most about my Mother.

The Mother that I knew was never really a trouble maker.  Shocking.  But that didn’t mean that she didn’t have certain ideas about how she had been wronged and that she didn’t choose to fight for a way to make it right.  The first time I realized this was when she told me the story of how I got my name.  My birth name is Rebecca, but I’ve gone by Becky my whole life.  Because that was a decision Mom was in charge of.  Her birth name was Rebecca Jane.  And she went by Jane- because my sweet Grandmother didn’t approve of nicknames.  Mom told me that her whole life she wished she had been called Becky instead of Jane.  Rather than complain about that endlessly, she did the next logical thing: she gave birth to her own Rebecca and called her Becky.  Problem solved.  

Later as I was telling my Mom names we had thought of for potential babies, I told her were thinking of naming a daughter Allison Jane and calling her Allie Jane.  She begged me to not do that- saying over and over “I hated the name Jane.”  That was the biggest reason we kept our daughter’s name a secret during my whole pregnancy.  As Mom was in the room with us when Elizabeth was delivered and we announced her name- Elizabeth Jane, Mom immediately responded “That is the most beautiful name I’ve ever heard.”

She also was thrilled when Katherine and Chris named Alex “Alexander Christopher”... She loved the name Christopher so very much- but you’ll note that my brother has always been called Chris.  Except for those 18 or so years he made me call him Fred, but that’s a story for another time.

Mom taught us well the value in buying well made products.  And I don’t mean value in that they were the most reasonably priced, I mean that they were the items she valued.  I honestly didn’t know that there were other options for toothpaste besides Crest until I was at Martha’s house one time and discovered Aquafresh.  In case you aren’t certain what you should be buying, feel free to begin taking notes now: Crest. Bounty Paper Towels. Cottonelle toilet paper.  Tide laundry detergent. Cascade dishwashing detergent.  Coke. And when you go to a restaurant to order and they ask you if Pepsi is okay, you politely say no.  Ruffles potato chips.  And even when you’re cooking- always buy real names.  It’s Chex Party Mix, not corn, rice, and wheat cereal Mix.

With the beauty of branding, my Mother had her own scent.  Until the later stages of her illness, she always smelled like a lovely combination of WindSong powder and Belk bought moisturizer.  She used to smell like Ultima II, but in more recent days she switched over to Lancome.  She taught me the value of spending money on what you love- whether that is good sweaters from Orvis, good shoes from Tops, or good fudge in Hilton Head... she had standards that brought her- and us- joy.  Just as her obituary said- she never went to the movies without popcorn and a Coke.  When Dan and I started dating he looked at me strangely when he suggested not buying them before a movie... I looked at him even more strangely when he suggested it.  We almost didn’t continue dating until I convinced him that it was a splurge worth considering.

My mother was the sweetest soul you’ll ever meet.  However, this week I stumbled upon this gem:  This is a paper my mother wrote in 1958 when she was a freshman at Mars Hill high school.  The whole thing (with her immaculate penmanship) was about her life- appropriately titled “October’s Gift”... there were stories I’d heard before: stories of her first words, her first steps, when she was baptized... and one I didn’t know.  In her own words... "Everyone who knew me as a child said that I was mean. I pushed my sister off of the porch just because I thought it would be funny to see her fall."....

This was one of the stories I almost missed out on with Mom.  Unlike some parents (myself included) who push their children into something they are interested in thinking their children can follow in their footsteps, Mom had the opposite response.  She was concerned that we would feel pressure trying to walk in her shadow.  Instead, it was as I graduated high school- having done Student Council my entire time there- that I learned that my Mother was her class president.  The only thing she told us as way of advertising for how we should do something was when she told me that she graduated college in 3 years- with all A’s except a C in swimming.  When I went to Carolina, Mom said she didn’t care what my grades were... in swimming.

Most importantly, the thing I remember my Mother saying most as I was growing up was “You are known by the company you keep.”  That could be because she knew I was friends with those trashy Cable twins... or it could be because she surrounded herself with such great company, she wanted the same treat for me.  It wasn’t until Mom was in the hospital this last time that I began thinking about how I knew my Mother’s friends before I knew my own.  When I would describe her friendships, I often found myself saying “Mom’s best friend Martha”... or “Mom’s best friend Bunie”... or “Mom’s best friend Brenda”... she filled her life with so many best friends... the ones that lived on Bradshaw Lane, the ones from Day International, the ones in England, the ones from Mars Hill... clearly, I learned from her example.  My life is richer from my mother’s best friends- and modeled today with so many of both of our best friends being here.

In addition to teaching me the beauty of being a friend, Mom modeled for us how to be a good Mimi.  Mom became Mimi once it was apparent that her first Grandchild, Alex, couldn’t say her hoped for Grandparent name of “Grandmother”.  They tried and tried to come up with something that would work for both of them... and when he was able to say “Mimi”, it stuck.  I remember searching high and low for just the right John Deere toy for Alex the year that he was into those... and making sure Mimi always had him a birthday cake when they came to celebrate Christmas.  Those of us in the Waldrup Family know a thing or two about having birthdays near Christmas, and Mimi wanted to be sure that he was appropriately celebrated.  (I’m fairly sure she didn’t want to take focus away from your birthday this year, Alex.)  When Elizabeth Jane showed up a little bit later, Mimi immediately formed a connection with my girl.  Every chance she would get, the two would go to “The Bit-More House”... and always end with chocolate ice cream.  When Julianna joined our family a couple years ago, Mom couldn’t have been more proud to show her off when we came for visits.

I am grateful that my mother brought me here, to this special space with this special congregation to help me begin my faith journey.  She opened my eyes to the body of Christ as being one of inclusion- one that would celebrate my giftedness as a woman, not in spite of it.  Wayne’s reading of Psalm 1 perfectly embodied not only my Mother, but the beauty that come from a life that is faithfully lived.   My friend Caleb used the phrase “an epitome of southern class and sophistication” when he described my mother this week. And while those earthly words ring true... I am most thankful that today my Mother is not only faithful, but joyful and triumphant.  I am grateful that she has joined the Citizens of Heaven Above.  Please join me as we worship the God who gave us Momma Janer, and as we sing....Oh Come, All Ye Faithful.

My mother was faithful.  And I am grateful.