Isn't it funny that on this day devoted to women (particularly moms), that we men become reflective sappy boys again gushing over the women God has placed in our life (both childhood and adulthood).
It's been an interesting day and one with many emotions. So without further hesitation:
In Memory Of My Mother (Helen Backes):
My mom was an interesting creation of God. Born in 1946 in a small town in central Missouri, she was 1 of 10 kids. She lost her dad at 18 in a horrible accident in which my grandfather suffered terribly. She lost her little sister just a few years later (who was the maid of honor in my mom and dad's wedding) in an automobile accident on Easter Sunday. She would later divorce from my dad and struggled throughout her life with mental illness. To say that she was inperfect would be an understatment, but she gave me a deep love and affection for single moms. God love em, I don't know how they do it. That's not to say that my dad wasn't a huge part of my childhood, but still, being a single mom with two sons had to be hard.
My mom taught me almost everything I knew growing up. She was the one who helped me learn to play baseball (she was an all-star softball player in high school). She helped me do homework, play basketball, read, learn music, and so very much more. In many respects, it felt like at times her boys were all she had left in life. I have a profound respect, love, and memory of my mother despite the frustrations, hurts, guilt, and pain that surrounded our lives. She made poor choices in life, and at times couldn't find forgiveness or healing from the trauma that characterized her life. But as a son always will, I loved her very deeply and wanted the absolute best for her. She took her own life this past January and this is the first Mother's day without her.
I have caught myself today missing her and wishing I had one more chance to call her and tell her I love her. Don't ever miss the chance to make those calls, because one day, you won't have them on the other end to pick up the phone. Tell people now how much you miss them and how much you love them. I can't help but think of Jesus final night with His beloved disciples and the hurt and groaning He must have felt knowing His time with them was drawing to a close. We truly are not promised tomorrow. Make every moment count. Live a radical risk-taking life and follow Jesus boldly into areas you never dreamed possible. For nothing is impossible with God.
In Memory Of My Step-Mother (Joyce Backes):
While she bore the title step-mom, she was no less a mom to me than she was to her biological children. Joyce never treated me or my brother any differently and she loved us deeply as well. She was a strong woman. She was born in rural Missouri and grew up dirt poor like so many other people in that area of Missouri during the 40's and 50's. It was an agricultural area and farming was the main way to make a living back then.
It was from that poverty background and rural landscape that she would put her hand to the plow and go on to hold a politically appointed office in Missouri State Government. She worked very hard and was diligent in her career. She was a maticulous woman and bold. She did not lack courage to be a female leader in a male dominated industry (Information Technology). As a matter of fact, for most of my life I can remember my dad essentially having Joyce as his boss. Talk about interesting conversations at home! She was successful in almost every respect that the world measures (financially, family, career, etc).
Then in February of 2000, we received news that would rock our family to its foundations. She was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. A long battle with cancer would ensue and she lost that battle February 21st, 2001. One of the most emotional moments of that year long battle was in a hospital during the winter. Her and I were alone in a hospital room talking and she shared with me if she could have anything she wanted, she wanted one more day to spend with my dad. All the success, all the accolades, all the money, and when faced with a battle she wouldn't win, the most important piece of her life was her husband. I'll never forget that moment because it taught me not to make an idol out of my career and not to take my family for granted. I loved Joyce dearly and I miss her today as well. She made possible so many things in my life that wouldn't have otherwise been and God's providence is amazing.
To My Wife (Jenni Backes):
So many things here to say, but many of them too personal for public consumption. I have said before and will say again, that aside from God, and His Son Jesus Christ, you have been my salvation and I don't deserve you. Your strength, love, compassion, wisdom, hard work, and beauty have held me together through our wonderful 8+ years. I thank God for you and for the fact that we became one on January 9, 1999. I look forward, God willing, to many more years together and the journeys that God will continue to take us on. It has been pedal to the metal since our wedding day, and I pray it doesn't stop. Thank you for the mother you are to our boys. Thank you for the lover you are to me. Thank you for the best friend you always are. Thank you for having me and for enduring me. May the Grace of God abound in our marriage, and may we do all that we do for the Glory of God. I can't imagine life without you, but I'm profoundly happy that I didn't have to.