John bends down to encircle me in a big hug as he calls me mom. Rob walks by me in the hall with his big smile as he calls out, “Hi, mom”. Both are at least in their mid 50’s which makes us all giggle at their audacity to call me mom.
It’s such a precious thing to hear this word. For Adam it’s momma and Steve calls me mom #2. Most of them think this is silliness I guess or they recognize they’re just too old to call me that. More and more of them are younger than our children and that is a good/bad thing.
In our counselors meeting I hear the words abandonment, abused, and traumatic used too often in describing backgrounds of some of our residents. This is’t the cause of addiction but with too many it was the reason they were searching for something to numb themselves of the pain.
My husband says he had a Leave It To Beaver childhood and I think he was mostly right. They had their tragedies too when the middle boy was killed in an accident at home at 6 years old. My in-laws were wonderful people but we’re all flawed because we’re people. The best of the best isn’t perfect. So we don’t try to be.
Jerry says “Hello family” as he stands to share a word of gratitude. To some it’s words to others this group of addicts and screw-up’s is the best family they’ve had. It’s definitely one of the truest they’ve had.
This year was the first Mother’s Day I wasn’t there to celebrate with them. It’s a hard one for me to program given the diversity of their experiences. This year I needed to be with my sister and even 3000 miles away several of the men sent me messages on social media wishing me a happy Mother’s Day.
When I got back, there was an orchid on my desk with a card signed “from your illegitimate and legitimate sons”. I had to laugh.
A week after Mother’s Day, Lynn stood up to share in our chapel service. He barely had three words out of his mouth when he suddenly went silent, then garbled out a few words as tears dropped on his cheeks as he thanked God for his mom seeing him sober this year. The men clapped and I teared up and again God spoke to me about his grace.
There’s a verse in Hebrews that talks about a cloud of witnesses. The visual imagery of this is what takes hold in my mind as I picture Granny, mama, grandma, my in-law’s, heroes of the faith like Martin Luther and William and Evangeline Booth, Keith Green….so many. And now, I picture not only those whose lives have been documented by their good works, but I know one day the cloud of witnesses surrounding me will be a motley crew of crack addicts and alcoholics. Those who were caught in the spiral of opiate addiction and saved by the grace of God through the simple hands of his servants.
This is the best family. A broken and hurting family who’ve been brought together in search of healing. God accepts us through his unconditional love and is restoring us through his grace.