My mother passed away in January. Edna Bernice Crawley Emrick was a great mom. I’ve been thinking a lot about her life lately and her life outside of being my mom.
In her eulogy Jim and I talked about how she was an “everyday” saint. Her entire life, everyday, she spent thinking of others. She was the most selfless person I know.
From a very young age she took care of her younger siblings and her sick mother. Her Saturday routine began at 5:00 a.m. and lasted all day – doing the wash by building a fire, hauling buckets of water from a creek to fill the tub several times to wash, rinse, do the bleach load, rinse again. She used a crank wringer to wring the water out of the clothes before hanging it all on the line to dry. She did the household chores. She would always start dinner or cook it all if need be. When she was seventeen, she left school and began working full-time to bring in more money for the family’s needs. She saved enough to buy a house for all of them in Greencastle at the age of eighteen.
When I was younger I always knew she worked, sometimes more than one job or a part-time job while she was on one of her four maternity leaves. She never expected my dad to be the sole bread winner. They were a team. I had a much more comfortable upbringing than theirs. I know this was my parents’ plan, but I didn’t realize how much more comfortable until I was an adult and started asking questions. Mom never volunteered her struggles, disappointments, or responsibilities. When asked about it, she simply answered, I did what needed to be done.
This is what I think about. She did what needed to be done. Not what she had time to get done. Not what she wanted to get done. Not what would be fun to do. She did what needed to be done.
We have discussed many ideas in Bible study and on Sunday mornings at St. Andrew’s. The one I keep coming back to is from Micah 6:8: “…what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Or another version if you prefer: “…to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly…” Three things: 1) Do justice, 2) Love kindness, and 3) Walk humbly.
My mother never quoted Micah to me, but I know she knew this was the way to live. She told me by examples. Do justice, Karen, always do what is right. Treat others fairly. Love mercy or kindness, Karen. Show kindness to whomever you meet. And walk humbly. Do what is needed, Karen, but don’t toot your own horn. Just do what needs to be done. Help others always.
Now, especially during Lent, I am trying to follow the words of Micah and those same examples from my “saintly” mother. What a beautiful life she led. I only hope I am living up to her examples.
What a beautiful world it would be if we all could put aside our personal “stuff” and do what needs to be done. With the Lord’s help, I am trying.
Karen Hirt Mannon