I am a grown woman. I have been for some time now. I didn’t get a say-so in my female designation. I got what I got even before I took my first breath of air. As far as the grown part, I had help from my parents. They were the ones primarily responsible for influencing my education and character and for pretty much paying my way in this world until I could do it on my own. For the record, even now as a grown woman I still have trouble doing it on my own sometimes. Just as I didn’t get to pick my gender, I also didn’t get to choose my parents.
As grown women, my sisters and I did get to make a choice in caring for our elderly parents. We had been given a lifetime of love and care and wanting to return it back to them was not a difficult decision. Some of the other choices we had to make for them were not as easy. Losing our father five years ago was hard, but we were tasked with doing for Mom what he had been doing for her for sixty years. We had a place to focus our love and attention and we gladly made the choice to do so.
As Mom’s recognition of familiar things began to diminish, we began to surround her with more of more of what we knew for certain were some of her favorite things. A Bible, a hymnal, and the color purple were at the top of that list. Purple sweaters in the closet, a purple wreath on the door, and a cozy, purple blanket on her bed were things that we hoped would comfort her.
Proverbs 31 is a chapter of scripture that is often referenced as a description of a virtuous woman, one of noble character. Many women’s ministries use this chapter as key to their mission and purpose. It’s jam packed with images of such women.
“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (v. 25-26)
“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (v. 30)
Personally, I have come to love verse 22, “Her clothing is fine linen and purple.” That is my mother’s wardrobe.
My mother left this world for heaven January 7th this year. She spent the previous week struggling either to stay in this world or trying to get to heaven. My two sisters and I kept vigil watching every breath, but after several days of that we began to sense that maybe our clinging to her was somehow affecting her will to stay in this world.
We were all there as her breathing once again became labored, but this time instead of holding her hand and calling her name, we made the difficult choice to step back. I handed the hymnal to my husband and he began to sing, “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll…”
We all began to sing but even before we reached the last verse, “And, Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,” she was gone. In that moment three grown women in that room became orphans. Suddenly becoming parentless made me feel lost and clueless about how to carry on without them. We had some more difficult choices to make.
A couple of days later we dressed Mom in a purple suit and said our final goodbyes. I put on a purple dress and hugged family and friends at the church. Because she was all those things Proverbs 31 talks about, even down to her wardrobe, I knew she was with Jesus.
Jesus. One of the last garments he wore on this earth was purple. Chapter 19 of John tells the story of how soldiers put a purple robe on him along with a crown of thorns. The purple roble was a symbol of royalty. The soldiers put it on him to mock him for the claim that he was King of the Jews. But it was true. He is a king and is now seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven.
Not long before this, in Chapter 14 of John, Jesus tells his disciples that he’s going to his father’s house to prepare a place for them. He was letting them know that he would soon be leaving this earth. He was giving them instructions about how to go on without him. He knew it would be hard. He promised them a helper, the Holy Spirit.
Then he says the most comforting thing of all. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (v. 18)
“The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend, ‘Even so,’ it is well with my soul.” I will not be an orphan for long.
This was originally posted May 8, 2016 on www.walterborolive.com , The Press and Standard's website.