Coach. Biggest fan. Toughest critic at times. Confidant. Mentor. Spiritual guide. Best friend to an awkward teenager.
Best of all, she was my Mom.
Mom — Josie Meredith Henry Carter — was born on May 19, 1932, in the Cayman Islands to a hardworking couple. I never had the privilege of knowing my maternal grandparents (or my paternal grandparents, for that matter), but Mom made them come alive for me with her wonderful stories about their simple lives in the islands.
My Mom possessed a fantastic work ethic, something that she learned from her parents and worked hard to instill in each of her five children. She worked in the banking industry for many years, and then in her “retirement” phase, she ran the concession stand for athletic events at my school and was always at the center of any events (church, school, etc.) that needed an organized leader. Mom was The Woman!
As great as her work ethic was, Mom’s compassion was even greater. My brother and sisters and I never had any doubts that she loved us. She told us so every day and showed us on that same daily basis.
Through the years, our house was open to family and friends who needed a place of caring in which to stay while they recovered from surgery or during periods of illness. I remember having aunts, cousins and other loved ones live with us for months on end if the need arose. Mom took care of everybody.
By the same token, our house was the hub of activity in our neighborhood. Mom welcomed our friends with open arms and was always glad to have a house full of kids.
Looking back on it now, I think it was a mixture of her great compassion and her way of protecting us. “Keep your kids close and your kids’ friends closer,” may have been what she had in mind. It’s not a bad idea, actually.
Mom was a great hostess, always concerned with everyone’s needs and wanting to make sure that everyone was having a good time. We had many parties at our home over the years and I can never remember anyone leaving without a smile on their face and a full belly. By the way, Mom was a superb cook, too.
The greatest gift that my Mom gave to me was a concern for spiritual things. Mom took us to church every week, taught us to pray and encouraged us to be involved in all things church. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” My Mom believed it and she practiced it.
My Mom was, as the old preachers would say, “promoted to heaven” in 2002, but the lessons she taught me will remain with me for the rest of my days. And by God’s grace, I want to pass that wisdom on to my son.
Thanks, Mom. I love you.