As my mom, Collene Spencer enters her seventh year in Heaven, even though there is no time in Heaven, it is the seventh year in Earth years. My sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and I all feel like we have grown so much over the years our parents have lived in Heaven. I think every child wants to make their parents proud of them, and even more so when their parents live in Heaven. We all feel like our parents are looking down at us from Heaven and that they truly love the people we have become. No, we are not perfect, but we do our very best, and we always try to act in a manner that we know they would be proud of. I believe that we have succeeded, and that our mom and dad are very proud of their girls.
Mom was always the sunny person in our family, and she taught her girls to “keep on the sunny side” and to make laughter a staple in our lives. Some of my sweetest memories are those when Mom was being silly. She loved having a house full of laughter, and while five daughters meant five times the drama, it also meant five times the laughter, giggles, and silliness too. Mom would do everything in her power to bring that to pass in her home. Mom grew up in a large family during the Great Depression years, and while money was scarce, love and laughter were not. Mom’s family, her parents and eight siblings laughed together, worked together, and sang together. Her mom brought sunshine and happiness into their home, and in our family, my mom was the bringer of sunshine and happiness. They say you learn what you live, and in my mom’s case, that meant that because she watched her mom be the bringer of sunshine and happiness in her childhood…she made it her goal in her own family…and Mom did it quite well.
I miss those days of Mom singing “Keep on the Sunny Side” as she woke us up in the morning. I miss her silliness and her laughter. Mom delighted in life. Many things brought her joy and laughter. She was, I suppose, a kid at heart, and the funny stuff really tickled her funny bone. Mom made our home and our lives…fun!! She just did, and I will always see her in that light. It has been seven years today since my mom went home to Heaven. Mom, we love and miss you very much, and we will see you in the future.
On this, my mother, Collene Spencer’s birthday in Heaven, I am reminded of really, how wise she was, even though my sisters and I did not really realize just how wise she was. They say, “Laughter is the best medicine,” and indeed, the Bible says, “Laughter doeth good like a medicine.” My mother really tried to live that out. She would always remind us to “Keep of the Sunny side of life,” meaning to laugh at hardship and adversity, because you can get through almost anything if you can laugh at adversity. Sometimes, my sisters and I felt like laughter was far too simplistic for what we needed at any given time, but Mom was always full of laughter and song, and her life was really far smoother than ours ever were. For her life was simple. Follow God’s leading, and you will be just fine…and she always was.
Mom was first and foremost, a woman of God. If you were in her vicinity, you were going to hear about her Savior at some point in the conversation. Sometimes, when she would begin to talk, we…or at least I would begin to cringe, because I thought people would think she was crazy. I was always of the opinion that if God wanted a person saved, He would make it happen somehow, and it was not my job to help. Oh…how wrong that opinion is. The Bible talks about sending the “laborers” out to save the sinners, and I don’t know who I thought that was, but somehow, I didn’t think it was me…or my mom. Still, if not us, then who. A laborer had to be a human, of course, but did it have to be my mom…at a time in my life (the teenaged years), when her speaking out was going to embarrass me. Well, it did, and I had to deal with it, because she had a calling, and she loved her Lord so much that she was going to do what He asked. She saw it as her duty…and of course, it was.
Now, I am very proud of my mom’s accomplishments, in her Labors for the Lord, because when she went home to Heaven on February 22, 2015, I saw, at her funeral, a large crowd of people who knew and loved her, and many who felt like they owed their salvation to her work for the Lord. How could that be? She wasn’t a preacher, evangelist, missionary, or teacher. She was a laborer…just a laborer!! And yet, I know that when it came time to give her the crowns for leading others to the Lord…they were many. She would talk to anyone, anywhere, because she was a laborer for the Lord. Looking back, I am quite proud of my mom, her legacy, and her “almost embarrassing way” of laboring for the Lord, because now I can see that she was far wiser than I ever was. Today would have been my mom’s 86th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Mom. Have a wonderful celebration. We love and miss you and Dad very much.
It seems that for every day, there is a designation…some more significant than others, but each with it’s designation nevertheless. Today is National Attitude Day, and while I think some of the designated days are silly and some downright ridiculous, some of them are designed to make you think a little. National Attitude Day is one of the latter. People so often allow negativity to dominate their lives, but think about the people in your life who are always happy and who always have a good attitude. Those are the people you want to have in your life, because they make you smile just to think about them. Those people have just as many problems as the people you know who are always negative. They just don’t let their problems determine their attitude.
My mother was one of those people who refused to let her problems determine her attitude. She would just start singing…usually something like “Keep on the Sunny Side” or “Let a Smile be your Umbrella.” Of course, as kids, we didn’t always appreciate her attitude…especially when we felt like it meant that she didn’t understand that we had a problem and we weren’t happy about it. She did understand though, and that was why she started singing. She knew that if she could get us singing too, we would feel better. That’s the thing about a good attitude…it makes you feel better, even if you have problems. That is something I find myself missing very much about my mom…her attitude. She used to do the funniest things in an effort to get all of us laughing, especially if we were fighting, and believe me when I say that five girls can fight…everything from an argument to a hair pulling fight. Mom sometimes got so frustrated with a fight that she would clear an area of a room out and tell us to fight. Of course, that usually made us all laugh, so the fight would be over. A very wise woman, my mom!!
People don’t like to see a person with a bad attitude. They take one look at your face, and if you have a sour look on it, they start doing everything they can to make you smile. As a teenager, I used to just hate that. I tended to be a concentrator, and so often had a frown on my fact…probably not the best way to go through my young life, but it is what it is. I can’t tell you how often people tried to tell me to smile…while I did, I was also annoyed. I look back now and realize they were trying to do the same thing my mom was…get me back on the sunny side of life.
As the first year without our mother, comes to a close, I find myself with mixed feelings. I miss my mother so much, but I know where she is, and that makes is a little easier. That doesn’t, however, make the sting of missing her go away. It’s hard to live on this Earth without your parents. Oh, I know it is something most people go through at one time or another in their lives, but no one really knows exactly how that feels until they have been through it. I know I didn’t. There are times when the sadness fills my soul so much that I cannot hold back the tears.
At other times, I think back on the things our parents taught us. There are so many life lessons…their teachings that made us the people we are today. My mother was the sunny one. She hated having her family sad or even grouchy. If someone was grouchy, she would often start singing, Keep On The Sunny Side. That song always held a special place for all of us. My mom really was the keeper of the sunshine in our house. She loved to laugh and sing, and many was the morning that we woke up to the nursery song, Good Morning. Mom sang often. I think that went back to her childhood years. When her mother and siblings were working around the house, they always held sing-alongs. The way we grow up has a lot to do with the way we run our own homes…and Mom grew up around songs and team work. We grew up doing chores, and we never felt like there was something wrong with that. I can’t say that we always wanted to do our chores, but we knew there was a good reason to share the chores. Probably the main one being to stay out of trouble.
My mom knew a lot of songs. They filled her heart. Some of her favorites were hymns, because God was always first and foremost in her life. Like many of us in the family, the songs we sang in church on Sunday morning tended to stick in our heads throughout the week. I find myself singing them all through the week. Mom had some particular favorites too. She liked In The Garden, Jesus Loves Me, How Great Thou Art, and What A Friend We Have In Jesus. She sang these songs often, and when she did, she always felt like she was closer to God. Of course, Mom was always walking with God. If she wasn’t reading her Bible, she was reading books by her favorite Evangelists or listening to teaching tapes and videos. Mom knew that Heaven was her home, and when she got ready, and she was satisfied with the things she had done in her life, she made the decision to go home. I know there are those who won’t understand that, but my mom was not sick in any way…she just decided to go home to be with her Lord. That was one year ago today, and while we miss her terribly, we know that she is home, and that’s where she really wants to be. We love you Mom. And we can’t wait to see you and Dad again.