by Carol Sokolsky
My Mama was always my best friend… well, not always. Not when she grounded me—constantly—when I was a kid. And not when she let me know that she didn’t agree with my choices… and she was right. And not when I know I broke her heart because of things I was doing well into my adult life… yup, me.
But my Mama never stopped loving me unconditionally… even when I’m sure I was anything but loveable.
At 5 feet, 1 inch, that 100 pound spitfire can do just about anything—or could, until about a year ago. But she’s still a fireball, for sure, and now you are about to know why.
She grew up on a hard-working farm in Northeastern Indiana with no inside plumbing until she graduated from high school. And trust me, Indiana winters are brutal! She’s one smart cookie, missed being named Salutatorian by a fraction of a percentage point. Oh, and she never stops reading.
Smart and talented. Still proficient on the accordion, she actually traveled with an accordion band all the way to New York City! It was the late 1940s. She made things happen. She’s so musical. That gene mostly skipped me…
My Dad married this incredible woman in June 1949. I arrived in 1951, my sister in late 1953.
There is just nothing my Mom couldn’t do. An expert seamstress, she sewed the custom-made draperies for their carpet and drapery business. She was sales, finance, purchasing, operations, office manager and, oh yes, the pick-up and delivery service. That woman was a machine. She. Never. Quit. She never let us see her sweat.
Oh, how she loves Jesus! She and Dad raised us from diapers to know about Jesus. We loved her flannel graph Bible stories at Good News Club in Dr. Luginbill’s basement. Every week. Her heart just longed for all the kiddos in the neighborhood to know Jesus.
Mom has always been the hands and feet of Jesus. She loves without exception, she serves faithfully, and she never, ever complains. Even when life hit her with stark reality.
In 1985, when Mom was just 55 years old, my Dad fell dead at her feet… his heart just stopped. My Dad was a young 61 when he died, and her life was forever changed. With daughters in Tulsa and Pittsburgh, the sudden reality of change hit her hard. But it didn’t break her. Nope. Not my Mom. She made the decision to sell the business. She packed up and moved to Tulsa. At 56 years old, she moved away from her home—the only hometown she’d ever known, and started over. My sisters-in-law had been including us as family for years, so it just seemed right… and off she went.
My Mama… she fell in love with Tulsa, and Tulsa fell in love with her. She’d walk around LaFortune in record breaking time almost every morning. She put us all to shame with her energy and her crazy healthy life style. This was a woman on a mission… to be healthy, to heal and to thrive. And thrive she did.
In 2002, sixteen years after she arrived in Tulsa, she met and married a man who stole her heart. And in a flash, Mom was back where she started, on a farm—in Indiana. Full circle. My Mom had gone full circle.
My sweet Mama was with me for every surgery that my husband needed. She was there as my world was falling apart… as the cancer was sucking the life out of my husband. And the morning that he passed away, my Mom drove to Pittsburgh before dark. Unconditional love.
I gave her so much grief over the years. I broke her heart. I fought with her about life and eternity; she never stopped praying for me. I never felt anything but love, even when we seriously disagreed. She encouraged me, and I knew she would never stop loving me. She is a woman of God, of such integrity, and she knows that prayer changes things. She is an obedient and faithful follower of Jesus. You don’t have to talk to her long to understand who she is, and who’s she is.
Last Mother’s Day, 2016, my Mom was 86 years old—still extremely active, taking care of a 100-year-old farm house and all that happens on a working farm. She still mowed the yard even though my sister and I nagged her to stop. But she was fit and healthy, more so than most 60 year olds! And for that, we are thankful, because…
On May 28, 2016, Mom suffered a horrific accident on the farm. The worst that you can imagine happened… a Life-flight to Indianapolis… the awaiting surgeon stating she wouldn’t even arrive alive… not at her age and with the severity of the injuries. Mama was alone in the helicopter, screaming in pain, fighting for her very life. We jumped in the car and drove straight to Indianapolis. Our Mom… the woman who gave us life, the Mama we love… oh dear God, why?
Fast forward two weeks… As she could begin to talk, laying in a hospital bed, broken in pieces, held together with screws, plates and a steel fixator bar on the outside of her body, she told us that all she could do was breathe and say, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” She knew that the name of God is a strong tower and those who run to Him are safe. Bam. She knew it to her core… and that safety didn’t necessarily mean safe and healing here. But she was forever healed and she knew, regardless of the outcome, that her healing was a given. My Mama…
My Mom fought all summer to live and to learn how to walk again. After 3 1/2 months in rehab, she went home, but not to the farm. No longer an option after those life-changing months, they now live in a beautiful patio home in the wonderful retirement village in our hometown. It’s a new normal. And yes, today she is 87 years old. No loss of brain cells!… just loss of physical ability. But not that much. She walks very methodically with a cane, yet she feels the long-term effects every single day. She is not defined by her accident. Not at all.
During those first hours, days and weeks, when she was in such pain, broken into pieces, not one time did she complain. Not once. She was worried about everyone else, apologizing for not being able to do things for herself. The hospital staff loved her. She thanked everyone, even the janitorial staff, for taking such good care of her. She fought with every ounce of strength she had. She knew this would be the fight of her life. She was right. And fight she did… all the way to walking 7 tenths of a mile around her neighborhood just two weeks ago… alone! Yes, with her walker, but who cares? She is a fighter and she knows that God isn’t done with her yet. How could He be?
I would do anything for my Mother, Eileen Sprunger Daugherty, who is not only beautiful, but sharp as a tack and yes, pretty doggone tech savvy! I know she gets frustrated that she can’t move very fast anymore. She always walked circles around my sister and me. Now she needs someone to lift or move things. She was a machine. Now, she’s a walking miracle.
This has been the journey of an incredible woman of God, a kind, loving and honest woman who has never known the meaning of the word “quit.” She’s always been my hero, my role model, and the arms that held me when my world fell apart, over and over again. I love that woman with all my heart. She deserves the world. She would never take it. She would give it all away.
Happy Mother’s Day to the most deserving woman ever, to OUR Mother—who must have an amazing home waiting for her in heaven. I know none of us are deserving; Jesus paid it all. But man, if anyone would be, it would be my Mama…
Carol Sokolsky loves writing for the918 and sharing the stories that have formed her life. After her mother’s accident last May, she spent 3 months in Indiana with her and wrote about her “Journey Through the Summer that Wasn’t.” Instead of finishing part three of the series, she chose to write this tribute to honor her precious Mama on Mother’s Day.