I lost my mother 6 years ago tomorrow, November 4, 2005. After typing that sentence, I looked at it and realized that, well...that’s wrong. Mom may have died 6 years ago, but I have never really lost her.
Helen Louise Stanton-Ervin (and after my dad died, she remarried and became Louise Loden) was born at home in Baldwin, MS on April 16, 1930. She was born the middle child of 6 children in a family of sharecroppers who were doing the best they could to survive during the ravages of The Great Depression.
Life was simple. Life was hard. Mom once asked me what I knew about the Amish. I told her that they were simple, hard-working people with no cars, no electricity or other modern conveniences. I went on to explain that they took care of their own, they raised what they needed in gardens and on farms, and that their main mode of transportation was the horse and buggy. When I finished Mom exclaimed, “Well I’ll be...I was raised Amish and didn’t know it!”
Mom grew up and married a charming young man from Bolivar, TN named James Franklin Ervin. I describe him here as “charming” because mom was fond of saying that she thought he had angel’s wings when she met him (I’ll leave that debate alone right there so that I may continue with my story.)
In April of 1961, just two days before her 31st birthday, she gave birth to her first child, a boy whom she and her husband named James Glenn Ervin. (In contrast, my daughter just recently turned 32 and has a 7-year-old, a five-year-old, and a year and a half old.) Four years later she brought my brother, Danny Joe Ervin, into the world.
It would be an understatement to say that this woman loved her boys. She was the kind of mother who poured her life into her children; she gave it her all. My mother was and is the strongest woman I have ever known.
My dad was a good man, but alcohol held him in a vice-like grip from which he was never able to break free. Not to the very day he tragically died with his brother in a house fire. Mom was the glue that held our family together. It has been said that if the father is the backbone of the family, then the mother is the heart. Whoever said that was talking about my mother.
Mom, who became “Mamaw Lou” to many who knew and loved her, lost her battle with cancer on November 4, 2005. She died at home in New Albany, MS with her family around her bedside. Her last words to me were, “I love you.” I’m glad to have heard her say it, but the statement was unnecessary. I already knew that my mother loved me. Not once in my entire life had I ever doubted it.
Mom taught me some very important principles about living that are still with me to this day:
She taught me the importance of having fun, where to find it, and if it couldn’t be found then how to make it up (she taught me to use my imagination.)
She taught me that hard times had to be faced and dealt with, not run away from.
She taught me faithfulness.
She instilled within me a lifelong love of books.
She taught me self-sacrifice.
She was the first person to tell me about Jesus and the story of Calvary.
And so, so much more. I still miss her to this day. Always will. She is still the first person I want to call when I get sick. It has taken years to stop reaching for the phone to call and check on her (or just to say goodnight) at 9:00 PM.
Yes, Mom is still here. She’s in the way I love my wife, cherish my daughter and play with my grandchildren. She’s in the color of my hair (I once told Mom that I got my white hair from her, to which she replied that she in fact got her white hair from me.) She’s in whatever is in my heart that is tender and easily touched. She’s in my faith in the Savior that I have come to know and love.
No, I guess I really haven’t lost her at all.