Our Life’s Work

One of my favorite family treasures is a small basket that my mother used to comfort others. On any given day, the basket would be filled with perhaps a small cake, fresh vegetables from the garden or bottled fruits. Beautiful flowers that mother, Betty Ann,  had coaxed into bloom, or any of the following . . . a book to share, a tin of handcrafted marshmallows and chocolates, a bottle of homemade soup, a loaf of artisan bread, a favorite recipe, and a note of gratitude or encouragement tucked in. Although it had been years since my mother had enjoyed good health, she carried on her practice of ministering to those around her.

During my early years I not only observed her acts of kindness, I was invited to participate in identifying who might need a bit of comfort and cheer, creating the presentation with the contents of the basket, and often accompanied Mother as she delivered her basket of love. It was not unusual for her to stay for a short visit to tend to any immediate needs of  the family. I can remember helping her fold the laundry for a young mother who could obviously use a helping hand; straighten the bed linens and fluff the pillows for an aging family friend, playing with small children or holding a baby as Mother counseled with the lady of the house and one morning weeding a flower bed. I must admit I was not always enthusiastic about these opportunities, but have come to treasure them.

My heart was aching as Mother’s health began to decline much too early and much too quickly. One morning as I was straightening her bed linens and fluffing her pillows she said, “Christine, I need to go now. Do not be upset, because you see, I have finished my life’s work here upon the earth. Oh, I have many projects I would still like to work on, like making up that piece of blue wool into a suit and putting all the family history to rights, but there will always be projects which are different from our life’s work.”

I had not thought much about my life’s work as I was steeped in keeping up with being a wife and mother and at the moment caring for my ailing mother. But then she taught me one more precious lesson I shall always remember, let me share it with you.

She was in her final days of her earthly life when she called me to her bedside and whispered, “ I heard Elsie is not feeling well today, so go and get the basket,  fill it with some vegetables from the garden and a little bouquet of flowers. Then bring me my stationary so I can write a little note to her.” I was taken back. Although reluctant to remind her, I  said, “Mother you are dying”. She said, “then you better hurry up!” I filled the basket, wrote the note and delivered it. Elsie was delighted ... Mother was grateful.

So, what is our life’s work? Is it all that we accomplish in this life? Yes, that is part of it and I have also come to know through study of the holy scriptures, personal experience and the legacy of love and learning from my beloved mother, that our life’s work is to love God and to love His children.

I will honor her legacy by doing just that, as I know it will bring peace and joy but more importantly it will bring glory to God.

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