My mother—preacher’s wife, Sunday School teacher, VBS director, Prayer Band president, hostess to visiting evangelists, missionaries—and mother to four—was a quiet helper to my father and a woman who had hot soup ready for lunch when we rushed in from school. She canned green beans and tomatoes, made jam, baked cookies and let us lick the bowl. As far as we were concerned, she could do anything.

She had grown up during the Depression, and so saved rubber bands, string, bread wrappers and anything else she felt could be used again. For example, she carefully unwrapped Christmas gifts and saved the paper for another use. I did as she did until all my kitchen drawers were full and I realized there was no reason to save EVERY bag or frozen dinner plate.

I’ve read that more phone calls are made and greeting cards sent for Mother’s Day than any other on the Special Days Holiday Calendar. It’s not hard to guess why. Without moms we’d all suffer unbandaged skinned knees, have none of our art creations praised (or put up on the fridge), and our birthday cake wouldn’t be our favorite flavor.

While there are many mothers in the Bible, none stands out as ideal except for Mary. I’ve pondered her making dinner plans thinking, “Jesus’ favorite is mac and cheese. I’ll fix that tonight.”

As with mothers from Eve to the present, she was the chief kisser of scraped elbows and official maker of chicken soup.

Of course we revere mothers for all they do to comfort and encourage us. But seldom do we add up all they teach us—much of it by example. My mother knew when to allow me a “mental health day” off from school—and when I needed to be dragged out of bed and sent to school, deaf to my pleading a sore throat or a headache.

She put up with my teen slang, my laziness, my lack of appreciation for all she did. When I became a mother I understood her patience, sacrifices and goodness. And much as I’d like to believe I was as good a mom as she, I know I am at best only half the woman she was.

So this year honor your mom on her special day. And if she’s already gone to be with the Lord, give thanks for the years you had with her. Send a card to another mother whose kids or grandkids are in another city or state.

As my friend Audrey used to say, “I’m glad your mother had you.” It was her highest compliment—to my mom.

Written by parishioner Phyllis Gilbert. Photo Mother’s Love was taken by Vinoth Chandar.