Five Seven

img022Five Seven. An unforgettable date. We may not remember Three Twenty-Three (her birthday). I don’t even know her wedding date (the year was 1945). But this day, oh I know Five Seven. The calendar starts fomenting emotions around the third or fourth.

I revisit my last goodbye as I trotted towards the car, facing forward out the front door, head turned on the final step as I sing-songed my farewell: ♪♫♪ Bye Mom! ♪♫♪  I see my father waiting for me at the edge of the school grounds, and I hear the deadly quiet when we entered the house.

Last night when I read about Kara Tippett’s family’s first event without her I burst into sobs. Have you followed Kara’s story? Her shimmering grace, her honest struggle, her big love. I look at her kids and I know a small piece of their story. The oldest girl, who will mother her siblings the rest of her life. The girl and boy in the middle whose grief might get overlooked, who will consider their dad’s cares. The youngest girl, the focus of concern for all, the girl who turned six this week.

Although Five Seven can never be the second Sunday in May, it is always in the suburbs of Mother’s Day. Sorrow scoots over and makes room for gratitude. For too many, the grief of Mother’s Day is the ache of having had a mom who couldn’t or wouldn’t, but clearly didn’t express love and kindness. Their focus is on breaking the chain of affliction, expunging the critical words, watching others to figure out how to be a good mom.

I learned the goodness and kindness of God through Mom. Sure, she taught us and corrected us; but she sang while she laundered, she cheerfully plowed through sandwich-making every school day morning, she wrapped her long arms around us, she prayed. What didn’t she do? She never gossiped, she didn’t complain, she didn’t worry, she didn’t fear. Sometimes she sighed, and I know she groaned. But she lived a simple, authentic life, a small life really, that influenced many for good. And she loved me, this I know. To know your mom’s love is a gift of unfathomable magnitude.

Thank you, Mom. I love you.

Nellie Arlene Stover Harper
3/23/1920 — 5/7/1968


15 thoughts on “Five Seven

  1. Oh Carol. I remember the day and for some reason have always remembered that she was only 48. I remember being stunned speechless. How could anyone have guessed that a comparatively minor hospital procedure would take Nellie from her family? What did God have in mind, we all wondered. Nellie was a role model for those of us who were younger mothers She had depth and grace and serenity, and oh that beautiful smile! I remember her sharing some devotional thoughts at a baby shower and telling us how honored she felt to be mother to her seven, and how the arrival of each baby had filled her with a fresh supply of love that belonged to that baby alone. That you, her youngest, have grown into a life of walking with God is a glorious tribute to her life and her love!

    • My beloved ‘Frankie’,

      You’ve done something very special today. You have given me a priceless gift. I’ve never heard about the baby shower devotional and “a fresh supply of love that belonged to that baby alone.”

      It was the truth. None of us ever doubted that she loved us. But that phrase is shimmering with grace. Thank you.

      We have a granddaughter due any day. I’m hoping she comes today. It would be a full circle of love. And a fresh supply. (grin)

  2. Such a beautiful tribute. I’m adding her to the list of people I wish I’d known.
    ‘Small life’ has such a different meaning coming from your pencil.
    Sounds as though her small life had deep roots and a canopy reaching into forever.
    Looking forward to hearing about the granddaughter!

  3. Read your words & comments above through a veil of tears. 1 June is two years since Mumma was as she termed it, ‘promoted to glory’. The missing continues for Mumma who shared her Christian in deeds & words. As you wrote ‘a little life’ yet known to God, respected, admired & missed by everyone who knew her. Thank you Carol for expressing my emotions also.

  4. Thank you for sharing this loving, precious post. To quote another dear “friend”, I’m sending love and prayers.

  5. Beautiful words spoken of a beautiful woman. Your Mom was an amazing gift to so many in her short life, especially her beloved family. Oh, to have looked in her face and to hear her speak just once!

    • That so many dear to me can’t know that look or that sound is a big part of my grief. She would have loved you SO MUCH and rejoiced in such a perfect complement—perfect completeness— to her youngest son.

  6. Happy Mother ‘s Day weekend to you Carol. I found you by accident but oh how glad I am of that fortunate click. Thank you for spreading Love with your Living Pencil.

    Your friend,


    • Bebe! You are an encourager. Thank you! I’m sorry for the delay in responding to your note. And I think of you when I delight in be- words. Your name is pure deliciousness!

  7. You know, I never actually met your mom but words spoken of her at her funeral changed the focus of my life. As I passed by her casket, I dedicated my life to being someone like her. She was truly a role model. As I lived life with many of your siblings, I saw the influence of your godly mom on her children. Thank you for your tribute to her. She and your siblings were such a blessing in my life and I wanted you to know that her “simple, authentic life” had a profound influence on me.

    • Bette, I’ve heard this story, but it is great to hear it directly from you. It has inspired me over the years to look for things to emulate when I’m at a funeral service. Thank you for your kind words. And sorry for my delay in responding. This month is zinging past me!

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