The leaves were almost completely off the trees the fall of 1990 when I first met Craig. The Lord had brought me to Fresno to study nursing. At eighteen years of age, God led me to the arms of my husband and, consequently, under the large canopy of Loraine’s loving-kindness. I still remember the first time Craig took me to meet his parents. The warmth in Loraine’s brown eyes and her gentle smile were a luminescent light in her home. I knew almost at once that she and Galen were very special people. Even so, while sitting at her table having that first dinner, the chandelier lamp wreathed in Christmas garland, I could not guess at that time what a blessing she would become to me.
Her love fell like a benediction on my young life. Away from my hometown, she became a second mother to me. I think I shared everything on my mind with her. She always had a ready ear. I learned how to listen from her–after I spent the first two years talking. I called her with cooking questions, housekeeping questions and whenever the kids did something really funny. Her laugh had an infectious, comforting quality to it and we shared lots of hilarity together.
I think it’s not too much to say that Loraine was the quintessential mother. She could share wisdom without ever giving advice. No one could say “no” in a sweeter fashion than she could. She let you carry your own load but always helped with a burden. I remember being hospitalized once, with preterm labor, and she was the one who came to visit me. I was so medicated I couldn’t feed myself. She did it for me. It was a humbling experience and I have never forgotten the love she showed me that day. Mom was there through other dark days–patient and tender. Christ says, “He who is forgiven much, loves much,” and I believe also that she who is loved tenderly loves much as well. Helping her as the end approached was natural because she was so like a mother to me. As far as loving goes, I am forever in her debt.
In the movie Gigi, Gigi’s aunt tells her, “Love, my dear Gigi, is an art–the greater the artist, the greater the art.” I think of that quote so often when I think of Loraine. She brought love into every aspect of her life—into her home, her cooking, her speech, her listening. My mother-in-law was a master at the art of loving. Now that I think about it, I can thank the Lord that I had more years with her in my life than I have had without her.
In the last years, in the midst of her long struggle, she still loved us. She extended herself and kept doing the motherly tasks she was so well known for. I think she kept many of her fears and concerns from us to spare us everything she could. She mothered us to the end. Even when she did need to accept help she was graceful and honest about her needs. As she said, she “faced up to it”.
The apostle John says of Jesus, “Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” Loraine loved us to that degree. Even while facing her own suffering she loved us to the end of her energy—to the very last. I can’t say that I love her in words that are strong enough. She is precious to me.
Nature was unfurling her spring garments when I said goodbye to Loraine last week.
She is now is the presence of Christ, Galen, and countless others. I’m sure she received a rich welcome from our Heavenly Father. I don’t know how many years span the distance between our next meeting, but I know I will miss her dearly. I thank the Lord for the time He did give me with her. What she has given to me over the years are like gleaming gems. I can hold them forever in my heart—they are a great inheritance, indeed.