My Amazing Mother

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As Daddy said, Mom is at Grady fighting for her life. She has fought her way through breast cancer and two open heart surgeries and a whole lot more, but she has also spent her life fighting for those people and causes she loves. She loves Jesus, she loves her family and she loves her church and community.

She has been a lifelong member of Second-Ponce de Leon and she made a commitment to Christ at 10 years old. In the course of her 77 years on earth, Mom has chosen and mastered more careers than a typical graduating college class. Most of us pick a vocation and a hobby or two and do our best to serve our community within the realms of these callings. But not Mom. She lives inexorably in the present, and in that present, there are a host of opportunities. Her special giftedness is to concentrate 100% on the present and give her every energy to the task before her. In this way, she has blessed and enriched the lives of countless people, most notably my own in her many callings.

There was Mom the Girl Scout leader, taking us on campouts, teaching us how to ride a horse, climbing Kennesaw mountain.

And Mom the environmentalist. My teenage years are peppered with memories of sitting on the steps of Westminster High school waiting for Mom to come pick me up. Waiting and waiting while she was actively involved in saving the Chattahoochee River. Those are not bad memories. She became a lobbyist and outspoken representative of the wide happy river than runs so close to the backyard where she and I grew up.

And my mother the missionary. For over forty-five years she has helped out the inner city mission in her active, humble way, gathering volunteers to work with the poorest and neediest, fixing thousands of pots of spaghetti sauce and never needing one word of thanks. True service from the heart.

She’s been my mother the deacon, the Sunday school teacher, the Singles helper. So much time and energy given to so many different groups of people at Second-Ponce. My mother who lives out her faith through good works.

My Mom the Olympic chauffeur. Many people do volunteer work, but Mom has a special zest and enthusiasm that got her invited to all kinds of behind the scene events during the 1996 Olympics when she drove the Russian girls’ gymnastics team.

She’s the woman who cares for the elderly in very practical ways: A meal, a bed, a trip to the doctor’s office or the hospital. Available to be there for those in need.

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And of course, she is perhaps best known as my mother the horsewoman, the riding instructor the competitor, the barn help. Horses were always a part of our family and she helped hundreds of children learn discipline and self-respect with a pitchfork and a brush in hand.

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My mother the wife, the Georgia Tech fan, the Merrill Lynch supporter, jitter bug sweet-heart of Dad. Their differences in style are as big as their difference in height, but used together it’s been a great blending of personalities that adds up to many years of great generous giving. Their beautiful manor on Nancy Creek Road has been used to entertain and shelter the richest and the poorest and many, many in between. And we the children have benefited most from this great generosity.

For that is what she has been, of course, most of all to me, and my brothers. My mother, the mother. She has supported all of our endeavors and those of her grandchildren and even great-grandchildren with great enthusiasm and energy.

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It all takes a whole lot of time, and time is Mom’s best commodity. She makes it work, albeit she may be running a little behind. She fills her days with her passions and she blesses many along the way.

Would we to learn such service, such joy in the present, such giving with literally no thought of getting something in return. Her service in all its many different capacities has ultimately been my mother being the hands and feet of Jesus to those around her. It has been a lifelong testimony to me of my mom, doing what she does best. Which is just about everything in the world.

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20 Comments Add yours

  1. Lorelei Fischer says:

    Amazing is an understatement! What an incredible legacy of love!


  2. Kim Huhman says:

    Lovely words for a lovely woman.


  3. Mary Ann Hall says:

    Elizabeth – What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful lady…your Mother, our friend and an inspiration to all who knew her. May God bring each of you comfort, hope and peace. Much love, Mary Ann Hall


  4. Dave & Jennifer Horton says:

    Praying for your mom, Elizabeth, and you and your dad and the whole family as you care for her.


  5. May God bless her and protect her. A beautiful lady.


  6. Mike Thimpson says:

    Thank you! I feel I’m really getting to know Barbara through your writing over the past few days. I’ve known she is a special lady, but just how special and to how many people is revealed in your words.


  7. Judy White says:

    To be a good mother, to encourage, to live for Christ and quietly stand out as love and strength for others, that is the most blessed time on earth. Daughters like you are the blessing of the Lord-I have three daughters like you. Love to you, Judy White.


  8. Love your mom, from riding at Westminster, to horse shows, to working with her exercising horses and keeping the barn tidy, she is always a class act. Prayers headed your way for a speedy recovery !! Lovely tribute to such a lovely lady.


    1. Thank you, Julie, for your prayers as we grieve Mom. You know how special she was. I have written another blog post about how the Lord is carrying us:
      Blessings on you, Elizabeth


  9. Rachel Cooper says:

    Particularly in the last week I have spent a lot of time thanking God for your Mom. The reoccurring thought I have is that I have known her for almost 20 years now (!) and she has always been so full of genuine warmth! She is a precious treasure, to be sure!


    1. Thank you, Rachel, for you prayers over these past weeks. Yes, Mom was amazing and a treasure.
      I think you know how precious your sis Kim is to me. It has been so sweet to walk this path of grief with her and Mary and my whole family. Heart-wrenching and sweet. I pray you can be a strong support to Kim and Glenn in the days to come. Kim is so proud of you! Not sure if you saw my latest blog, but here it is: We have felt carried.
      Blessings on you!


  10. Trish Ranck says:

    Beautiful words for an amazing lady,


  11. David Lewis says:

    To me, your mom was the lady with the squirrel in her kitchen! Great tribute to your mom. Prayers for your mom, you and all the family. Much love to you all.


    1. David, thank you so much for your prayers, phone call, emails, FB posts. I read what you wrote to Mom to her while she was in the hospital and again at home. I know she could hear and understand. She couldn’t respond, but I am sure she was smiling in her heart as you shared. I’m so sorry I didn’t get to call you back. I came down with a terrible kidney infection after the memorial service and ended up in the ER. The infection left me so weak. Fortunately I was able to help Daddy do many things around the house. The infection also caused my bladder pain from 20 years ago to flare up, so I am having to deal with that and trusting the Lord to carry me through this physical pain as he is doing through the grief and emotional pain. I pray you are well. Sending hugs from Lyon and in case you didn’t see my most recent post, here it is:
      Love, Elizabeth


  12. grammysaysay says:

    I am Mary Gartell’s sister and I have watched from afar that your mom’s dedication to others and God’s world has been tremendous! Thank you for sharing your love for her in such a beautiful way! I am sure the Lord is watching and waiting and when He does call her home, what a party and celebration in heaven there will be. My parents are there and will be thrilled to see her. Blessings on you and your brothers as you all remember all she was to others but also remember who she was to each of you! Love to you from Flowery Branch, Ga.


    1. Thank you so much! Mom was amazing and I do expect her to be having a party with so many! Your niece, Kim, my dear sis-in-law, is SUCH a blessing in my life and it has been very sweet to walk through this dark valley together. Thank you for your prayers for us all. Blessings, Elizabeth


  13. Odie Beau says:

    Je fais parti de ceux et celles qui ont été béni par la joie de vivre de ta mère et par son amour pour les autres. Elle laisse un très bel héritage humain à toute sa famille et tous ceux qui ont croisé son chemin. Love you all! Odie Beau


    1. Odie, I MISS you and cannot wait to talk to you. Perhaps tomorrow? Thank you for all your beautiful words and prayers–I read to Mom by her bed and then to Dad (translated of course). I know Mom understood me when I first got back to Atlanta. And Daddy sends much love. I’ll tell you everything when we talk. Don’t know if you saw my most recent post, but here it is:
      And that is how I have felt–carried. I am having lots of pain like 20 years ago. Only you and Trudy and Paul can understand how upsetting this is, but I am trying to take one day at a time, knowing our Father knows all and holds all and will carry me in this too. I love you, Elizabeth


  14. Jule Alsbrooks says:

    What a beautiful tribute to my special friend, Barbara. We were friends in our “growing up” years, and am thankful for my wonderful times with them. Nancy Creek, you and I ; you the piano, and me singing for your Mother’s Dad at Christmas….so many years ago. I loved visiting them at Hilton Head, and spending time at the mountain house. Our friendship continues even to this day, as I received her Christmas Newsletter in February. Your books filled my mind with your love of Christ, and I hope to continue reading more of them. So glad you are with your Dad! It is very hard to lose your partner of 57 years. I miss Ferdie so very much. Sorry I was not able to come over after the Memorial service, but I had to return to Madison and my precious dog Dabo…….Ask your Dad who lives at Clemson and his name is Dabo! God Bless your family! And know I love you. Thanks to Paul for writing his newsletter, and for keeping my email on your list. Jule


    1. Thank you so much, Jule, for your wonderful words and prayers and your sweet witness for Jesus. Mom loved you so much and I have so many memories of you and Ferdie with Mom and Dad and the ‘gang’ (Ripleys, Bowens, Godsells and y’all) at Lake Burton and beyond in my growing up years. In case you haven’t seen my most recent post, here it is: and expresses all the Lord has done in these last weeks. I’m home now and talk to Daddy daily. Sending love, Elizabeth


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