Not long ago, a dear friend of mine asked me why I am so good hearted. I am pleased to share the reason why with you. In this auspicious season when we reflect on our blessings, my best friend and teacher is foremost in my mind. My Mother was the most consequential influence in my life. She was the essence of love and kindness which were conveyed to me through her parenting and guidance. To all my friends, my Thanksgiving wish for you comes with the love and kindness of Simply Sarah.
July 11, 1993
While sitting on the porch this summer at my sister’s house, I looked at my Mother and reflected on the simplicity and unselfishness of this marvelous woman. As I watched her find joy in even the most unremarkable things, I wondered, “What is the magic of Sarah who has been through the world wars of not only this planet, but also of her two children, Barbara and myself, plus her seven grandchildren, from oldest to youngest (Edward, Kathleen, Glenn, Christine, Maureen, Coleen and Donald)?” After much consideration, I came up with a few reasons that I’d like to share with you and Sarah as she passes from this world to the next.
Mum, the purity of your love for God was mirrored in everything that you did from preparing meals for your family to traveling many miles to deliver a bag filled with beans or peas from your garden to a friend or relative. I will always remember how you would mend your nylons so that your children could have new shoes and a hat for Easter. And Sunday after church how there was always room for “one more” at the lunch table and how the food that you had prepared just never seemed to run out. Your expressions of wisdom are permanently etched in my memory:
“The Lord helps those who help themselves.”
“The Lord never gives you more than you can bear.”
“There’s never an ill wind that doesn’t blow some good.”
and many, many more.
The simplicity that was so you was so evident when you visited me in Phoenix and were thrilled with soft Dairy Queen ice cream served on the pie that a friend had baked for you. And I will always think of the funny things you said and did, like:
When I asked you on Mother’s Day this year how you could belt out the doxology when we were in church after you told me that you lost your voice 10 years ago when Dad died and you said with that impish “Sally Jane” grin: “I found it.”
Oh yes, and the time when I was so worried about you when I couldn’t find you one summer when I was visiting. After 15 minutes of sheer panic, I heard your voice coming from behind the garage, where I found you on an 8-foot ladder – cleaning the windows. Not that being on an 8-foot ladder is all that bad – but, at age 76?!!
To say nothing of riding the roller coaster at Kennywood Park at age 82!!
And the utter terror that Barbara and I felt when you insisted on driving your car up to 2 years ago, legally blind with macular degeneration of the retina. We were shocked when we learned that you drove several older women to church with you.
The thing that I’ll miss most is calling you at Christmas to ask if I should use baking soda or baking powder in your recipe for applesauce nutbread. You had sent me two separate, handwritten recipes – each one with a different ingredient. Naturally, I had to keep both of them since you, My Mum, had sent them. Each Christmas for the past 30 years, I have called you to ask which ingredient to use. (I think that I purposely forgot just so that I would have to ask.)
Mum, your spirit has left a footprint on the lives of all you’ve touched. I will miss my “Rock of Gibralter”, but will testify to the life of my best friend and my Mother in all that I do. I love you with all my heart, Mum – thanks for your teachings and mostly, for your love. Until we meet again …
by Virginia Holmes
Daughter of Sarah Reese Holmes
Genevieve is the Senior Advisor and Editor to The Bold Pursuit