Sunday, May 13, 2018

Someone Else's Mother

This probably isn’t the place for a Mother’s Day post.

It is, as you know, the farm blog. And, if you’ve come looking for the Sunday Walkabout, it isn’t here. It will get posted tomorrow. (I hope)

Because, today I am writing about Mother’s Day.

In all actuality, I’m probably not the person to write a Mother’s Day post. I've never cared for what seems to be a contrived holiday. It feels unnatural and uncomfortable and seems to cause pain for all those who lead less than Hallmark greeting card type of lives. The mother-less, the child-less, the abused and neglected. While I love being a mother, the holiday makes me feel conflicted and sad.  Perhaps that's because my only stable example of unconditional maternal-love was my grandmother, and she's been gone for nearly thirty years. The troubled, dysfunctional relationship with my own mother came to a sadly abrupt end when she inexplicably stomped out of my eldest daughter’s wedding without ever meeting the groom.

However, something changed. For a while when the Mother's Day card displays went up, I was one of the first to purchase the "perfect" card. I found one this year and it's been sitting on my desk for weeks and weeks. Sadly, it's a card that I will never send. It cannot be sent because the recipient left this world behind not so long ago. The pain of her loss is still fresh and raw, but the memories she left are so sweet.

So, it seems only fitting that today I tell you a little about the woman who loved and cared for everyone she met and taught me what it is to have a mother’s heart.

She seemed the very essence of the woman who should be honored on Mother’s Day.

Even if she was someone else’s mother.

I had no idea our life was about to change when we walked into Tractor Supply that Spring day nine years ago. But, it did. Because that’s the day we met Bonnie. I will go so far as to assert that anyone that met Bonnie was changed in some way forever. You certainly would never forget her.

She was SO excited to meet us. Her eldest grandson and our eldest daughter had just gotten engaged and she immediately fell on us with hugs and kindness. She said she just knew since she loved Betsy so much that she would love us too.  Her warmth and love were so genuine when we parted ways I felt as if we had been touched by something divine.

As the wedding drew closer, family activities increased and Bonnie was there at the center of it all, loving and encouraging everyone. She stood and prayed the prayer of benediction as part of the ceremony when her retired-preacher husband was unable.

Josh and Betsy's wedding '09

Just months later when the newlyweds were nearly snatched from us forever by an under-age, over-the-limit driver in a horrific head-on-collision, she was in constant contact. Others in the family worried that her own health would suffer as she already had so many responsibilities. If memory serves, she had a health scare at some point during this whole scenario. I’m pretty sure she even spent some time in the hospital herself. But, that didn’t seem to slow her down. There was someone in need and she was on the go.

She called to check on us. She wanted to be certain of updates and prognosis. When I turned to social media to keep the far-flung family and friends abreast of the situation, she joined Facebook. If I didn’t post a timely update, or the news sounded grim, she would call for further news or to grant a little encouragement.

For weeks she was an integral part of the visitation team. Most evenings, Josh’s dad would drive him over the mountain to sit with his seriously injured wife. But, when he couldn’t, Bonnie was the first to volunteer. She even had some funny adventures along the way that made us all laugh. After these visits, my phone would ring… “Barbara, (she had this precise way of saying my name that always made me want to sit up a little straighter and want to say “yes ma’am”) Barbara, I am calling to give you an update on our Betsy…because I wanted you to know. And, I want you to let the Facebook people know too” we would talk a while and sometimes she would pray over the phone and we’d go our way. Later, she told me that she had only sounded so brisk and professional to keep herself from getting “sniffy” (weepy) and help me to be stronger. And, it worked.

We spent a lot of time talking during that long summer of recovery. She seemed to realize more than anyone else just how hard it was for me. It seemed so selfish to say I was struggling, when my child was faced with the brutal realities of recovering from life-threatening injuries. But, there was no denying the fact that it was difficult. Part of being a mother is feeling your children's pain. She encouraged me, comforted me when my own mother did not.

When I re-discovered the cathartic release and insight that writing grants, I posted a piece about the whole experience, and she became my number one fan. She called and asked if she could submit if for publication. Oddly, the piece (which truly wasn’t very good) was entitled, “A Mother’s Heart”. She was certain that it would be printed, and she was terribly disappointed when it was not. From that time on, she faithfully read every word I wrote and constantly encouraged me to write more.

after 34 days at UVA
home again
Oh, HAPPY Day!

When the day finally came to bring B back to the Valley, no one was more thankful than Bonnie. The trip was far more arduous and involved than we could have expected. And, the way ahead was going to be painful and slow. But, Bonnie was there to greet our Betsy. To rejoice and pray and give a lot of hugs.

Time passed. The slow work of recovery continued.

Bonnie was there for Amanda and Tyler’s wedding, openly rejoicing that Betsy was able to walk down the aisle as her sister’s matron of honor, causing most of the guests to think she was our close relation.
Betsy's baby shower

There were birthday cards, random texts and the occasional encouraging email. Each and every one full of the care and concern that only she could express. They always arrived at just the right moment. She was there for baby showers and birthday parties. Every single time we saw her there were always lots of hugs and “I love you” was said repeatedly.
visiting at the Market

But, then there’s this…

Last year when Tom got his scary diagnosis, it felt like Life suddenly went into warp-drive. Everything seemed to happen so fast. It was less than two weeks from the diagnosis to major surgery. To say we were overwhelmed was an understatement.

But, as word traveled through the family grapevine, there was an email from Bonnie. Then there were more emails and texts…the encouragement kept coming. She and her retired-preacher husband sent a prayer of affirmation. She kept checking on me. While the surgery was a success, that was just the beginning of the journey.

Opening Day of the Market arrived. There was NO way Tom could go. He was weak as a kitten and pumped full of pain killers. We were still in constant communication with the doctor’s office, watching for any signs of infection or trouble. His activities alternated between sitting in the chair and sleeping in the chair. But, he was adamant about one thing. I had to go to the Market. No questions about it…just go.

There was nothing I wanted to do less.


Having to drive the big,“new” truck down Mbrk road in the dark of early morning was the least of my worries. It was the thought of standing there for hours and hours and telling the same story over and over and answering the same questions repeatedly that I just didn’t think I could endure.

The customers were psyched the Market was opened once more. They wouldn’t understand why I wasn’t. We had next to nothing to sell and I really didn’t care. The way ahead looked so uncertain. I was so scared. I was so worried. And, I was oh, so tired.

But, I pulled myself together and went.

The morning went about like I thought it would. The conversation seemed an endless loop. It was excruciating. I couldn’t think of anything but getting back home to the hill to check on "my patient". 


There, seemingly out of nowhere, was Bonnie. She was striding toward me with great purpose.

“Oh, honey…I have been thinking about you!” she started talking before she reached the sidewalk.  “I have been so worried.”

“I couldn’t think of anything to do for you. So, I brought you something.” She put an enormous chocolate bar on the table.

“…and this…”

She held her arms open.

…that’s when the tears started.

“Now, now…” she patted my back. “Don’t you do that. You know you’re strong and he’s strong. It’s going to be all right. I’m praying for you. And, I love you, honey.”

She had come to the Market to comfort me.


To put this in some perspective, her own health was somewhat precarious. She had an ailing, elderly husband at home who required constant care…AND she was the full-time caregiver for another family member. And, that was just at home. She had numerous other responsibilities. The effort she put into a single day would have defeated a lesser individual.

…and yet, she made a special trip downtown to the Market for me.


Not family.

Not anybody really…

Just a blip on the radar.


I love you honey.

And, she was gone. I didn’t see her leave. Maybe Josh was right...

I don’t know how she always knew just what to say. I only heard bits and pieces of her past. Some of it sounded so hard and harsh. Maybe it was her own pains and heartache that made her so attuned to others. More likely she was just that special. She truly lived her faith.

During the “celebration of life” service, her sister spoke of her call to be a caregiver. That certainly defined Bonnie. Her brother recalled evidence of her care-giving back when they were just children. Her self-sacrifice was part of every recollection. More than one recalled how she truly represented the Jesus that she loved and followed. Every single person who ever met her felt that genuine care and concern. Countless people were touched and influenced by her loving mother's heart.

We never got around to having that coffee on the deck that we said repeatedly we would do. And, I will always regret that I let the busy-ness of life keep me from deeper fellowship with such a wonderful person. Our final visit that day in the hospital was far too short. Actually, our entire time with Bonnie was far too short.

A friend recently told me that God always sends someone to fill the needs in your life. And, I suppose he sent Bonnie to fill my emptiness, even if for just a little while. For a brief while that mother-shaped hole in my heart was full. I got a chance to feel a mother's love. Even if she was someone else’s mother.

Bonnie and her kids

So, to Vanessa, Kevin and Shawn…THANK YOU for sharing your mom. She touched my heart like no one else. I think I speak for all the broken, needy souls she cared for when I say, she made me feel so loved. I am a better person for knowing her and seeing her example. She was a blessing that will never be forgotten. I share your pain on this bittersweet day.

I'm at a loss as to how to end this one. I wish I had one more chance to say...

Happy Mothers’ Day!

                                                                                   I love you, Bonnie.
Josh always said she was an angel


  1. What a wonderfully expressive post, I could sense that it was written from your heart. I, too, had a 'difficult' mother, but she stayed in my life until she passed over, and I stayed the dutiful daughter right up to the end. It was a relief when she left my life and I no longer had to be a 'good daughter'. I would have liked to have known someone like Bonnie. I would have loved to have had someone put their arms around me and tell me that everything was going to be alright.
    Thanks for sharing. Vx

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Vera!
      Apparently, there are far more "difficult" mothers out there than one might imagine. I am SO sorry you had to suffer through that.
      Having experienced that made Bonnie all the more special. And, while I know it's not the same...consider this a hug from here saying it is going to be all right.

  2. That was an incredibly sweet post. You were so lucky to have a "Bonnie" in your life! I didn't know about your daughter's accident. That must have been a very difficult time for everyone. She's fully recovered now? -Jenn

    1. Thanks for reading, Jenn!
      Yes, she's fully recovered. And, if you didn't know the story, you would never guess. In the pic at the Market, that is her and her firstborn son. She now has two little boys. :)

  3. I rejoice in your good fortune to have experienced a mother's love and to be able to love a mother with a daughter's heart. You've been blessed and those that you now touch will benefit from your warmed heart. Much love to you and your's, B. And bless Bonnie - an angel to be sure. Kris

    1. Thanks, Kris!
      I was given a great gift when I met Bonnie.

  4. Barbara,........ You have put into words what I have felt about this precious woman for 30+ years. Thank you so much. ❤️
    I Love You

    1. Oh Susan, we were given such a great gift by knowing and loving Bonnie and being known and loved by her.
      Love you, too. Sending many prayers and much love your way.

  5. WOW Barb - what a great note to a great lady! God truly put Angels amongst us to keep us going on a daily basis! Without their love - we would lose sight of what He has planned for us! God Bless You and your family!