The woman who made me
by Pastor Tom Anderson
My earliest memory of mom was at about 3 years old. It was a summer day in the backyard of our house in Bloomington, Minnesota. Mom had just bought me a new shirt–an actual button up shirt, instead of the usual t-shirts I always wore. She told me it was a “real man shirt.” She put her arm around me and told me how proud she was of me growing up. It was one of the best places I’ve ever been in this world.
Perhaps one of the greatest things Mom and Dad ever did for me was to bring me to the altar at Hillcrest Memorial Methodist Church in 1958 to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I was washed. I was adopted into the family of God. I was given an inheritance–an invisible world where death has no dominion.
I am so grateful for the peaceful home Mom and Dad built for us. I am so grateful to have a family that sat down every day to eat dinner together. Our kitchen table was the best place in our house. It was mom’s finest achievement in life. At that table the conversation was about community and church. I heard about immigrant life in East Dearborn, the struggles of low-income single moms. I listened to arrangements for Methodist Youth Fellowship events. I heard about missions being planned for the church. I didn’t realize it at the time, but both my faith and my citizenship were being formed. I can’t remember a time in my life when I did not feel I had a duty to my God and my community. It’s what mom and dad did. It’s what I thought everybody did. Only today do I realize how blessed I really was.
In 1963 the Rev. Dr. Fred Vosburg came to speak to the Methodist Women of Dearborn First United Methodist Church. As their pastor he informed them of a severe clergy shortage in Michigan. He asked them to consider giving their children to ordained ministry. Most of the moms had other ideas for the professional success of their offspring. But mom wanted God. She went home and got on her knees and prayed, “God, you can have my sons.” Here we are a theology professor and a pastor. She did not tell me that story until just two years ago.
Throughout her life mom would voice her hurts and doubts and feelings of depression to us. But above these difficult seasons was her practice of prayer. Her habit was to name everyone on her list every night while lying in bed. It started with family, dad, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, then onto friends and acquaintances and people she heard of in the news. In the darkness she would call out these names every night. We know this because Karen, my wife, was privileged to hear it each night when she was taking care of mom.
Mom once said to me that she couldn’t understand her life because she’d gotten everything she ever prayed for--including dying in her sleep. She never understood why she was so blessed. I don’t get it either. But if you know God made you and saved you and you are going to God, your whole life becomes a conversation with Him and that would be the blessing.