Published: 7 years ago

ThanksWeek: Ten Years

It’s ThanksWeek here on the blog, where I reach back into the archives and pull out some of my favorite posts of gratitude (which would be an awesome name for a Bibleman weapon: “Step back, you evildoers, lest I unleash my Posts of Gratitude™!”)

Today’s flashback is a timely and bittersweet one. It was twelve years ago today that my mom finally saw Jesus face to face. This post originally appeared on the ten year anniversary of her death: November 20, 2010.


Ten years later, I still remember eating hot Krispy Kremes while walking down a cold and windy sidewalk to Nashville’s Baptist Hospital.

Ten years later, I remember laughing when she said, “If Gore wins the recount, don’t wake me up.”

Ten years later, I remember praying for her just before her surgery.  I remember that her pain was worse that day than it had been in her short eleven month battle with cancer.  I remember the surgical team wheeling her out of the room.  I remember her looking at us and saying what would be her final words:

“Y’all be good.”

Ten years later, I remember a nurse asking us to come into the consultation room.  I remember a doctor in his scrubs, holding his khakis over his arm, explaining that there were complications…that they had done everything they could.  I remember my sister’s voice, trembling, shaking:

“Are you telling me my mother is dead?”

Ten years later, I still remember that detached, out-of-body experience, as if I was watching my family’s grief…my grief…from the corner of the room.  I remember the exact prayer that I prayed as I put my hand on my dad’s shoulder and held him tight:

“Father, nothing has happened today that didn’t first filter through your holy hand…”

Ten years later, I still cry sometimes.  I still laugh sometimes.  I still think about her every single day.  I still catch myself picking up the phone to tell her about something that she’d want to know about.  Something she’d want to pray about.  Something she’d want to laugh about.

Ten years later, I find it hard to believe that we’ve had two houses she’s never seen.  A seminary campus she never visited.  A church she’s never heard of.  A grandchild she’s never met.

Ten years later, I remember her infectious sense of humor.  I remember her love for my dad.  I remember her pride in her kids.  I remember her joy in her grandchildren.

Ten years later, I remember her passionate devotion to Jesus.  I remember her commitment to the gospel even as she suffered.  I remember her paraphrase of Philippians 1:21, something she repeated often:

“If I live, I win.  If I die, I win.”

Ten years later, I remember burying her the day before Thanksgiving.  I remember preaching her funeral, trying to narrow down 27 years worth of memories in 15 minutes.  I remember looking at the faces of nearly 600 friends and family, sharing the gospel with the people that had come to honor her.  People she’d prayed for.  Souls she’d begged God for.  Witnessing opportunities she’d labored for.

Ten years later, I remember standing in a freezing graveyard under a bright blue sky.  I remember her body being put into the crypt.  I remember the numbness.  The sorrow.  And the certain hope of seeing her again.

Ten years later, and it’s November 20, 2010.  She would have been 70 years and six months old today.  She and my dad would have celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary this past spring.  She would be planning a special dinner for my brother’s 50th birthday tomorrow.  She would be keeping tabs on nine grandchildren in two different states, and be gleefully anticipating Christmas, undoubtedly her favorite time of the year.

Ten years later, and I still miss her.  I still thank God for her.  I still talk to my kids about her.  I still love her.

Ten years later, and the legacy of a godly woman extends beyond her grave.

Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:28-30)

  1. Anonymous says:

    …beautiful and a continual honor to your precious mother. A mother could only pray to be loved and remembered in this way. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Mom says:

    I remember your Mom very well, Danny. She truly was a blessing, and you were most fortunate to be her son. She would be one of your most faithful blog-readers (and commenters), and she would be laughing with you at all of Haven’s antics. I know for certain that she would be very proud of the man/husband/father/minister you are today and are still becoming. As one who also has a Mom in heaven, who I can’t imagine ever growing old because she died so young, I understand . . . and I still cry, too.

  3. Jenn says:

    My father passed away ~ 8.5 months ago. Your sentence: “I still catch myself picking up the phone to tell her about something that she’d want to know about.” That’s what I’ve been fighting in this early stages of grief… the realization that I’m halfway into calling him… but there’s not going to be anyone on the other end. We can’t talk about my job, my marriage or books I’m reading that I think he’d be interested in. This blog was very helpful to know that I’m not alone in this “time of thanksgiving” to not think of what I don’t have, but what I should be thankful for: the 32 years I did get to spend with him. Unfortunately, he wasn’t a Christian. My hope is that the 8 days that he was unconscious in hospice, God was working on him. And when Dad finally accepted God’s hand, God let him come home.

  4. Glenn Lance says:

    Its hard to believe it has been that long. And seems like only yesterday. I loved your mom’s sense of humor more than anything. If I could get her to laugh, my job was complete. Many times at the office I would sit down and tell her a story of some sort. Often she would think I was serious, only to burst out laughing at the end. I have many good memories about Nell and cherish every one.

  5. Judy Parker says:

    What a wonderful tribute to a great mother-she set a Godly example for us all to follow-I know she will be in our hearts forever-praying for your family!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Danny, I love to read your post about Nell. Such a beautiful lady. She gave me good advice when Kristan was a baby and having ear surgery. I was so worried and she said ” don’t cross that bridge until you have to or you may have to cross it twice”. I use that a lot these days as a parent. She touched many many hearts and was and still loved and missed by many.

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