So my mom turned 50 on November 10th and I thought to write this then but I’m typing it now.
I was in third grade and it was just before church service during the doughnut/coffee time which was right after Sunday school. We were going to stay extra that day after service for a special “congregational meeting” about funding and going ahead with the construction of a new classroom building. The old building had burned to the ground, struck by lightning. (I remember our family getting a phone call that night and then pulling up to a crowd of fellow church members and watching the building burn from a safe distance and everyone was sad.)
Anyways it was just before service and I found my way to my mom and thought we’d all go sit in the pew as a family like normal. She was talking with two of her friends and instead of migrating to the sanctuary, the four of us ducked into a side room–my mom was talking with them about something. She even cried a few passionate, frustrated tears and her friends listened and said encouraging and supportive things like “say what you think you need to say–people shouldn’t take it personally if you have a different opinion”. I just sat on a table, listening quietly, thinking this must be really important since we were missing church and excitedly hopeful that we might get to miss the whole thing! None of us’d thought to turn on the lights, but there was a window so we could all still see each other.
The convo ended with hugs and we headed to the service. My mom quietly opened the back right door of the sanctuary and the two of us walked down the side aisle to join my dad and brothers seated halfway up. Walking in that late! Real Rebels!
You had to stand some at the end of church service for a song, benediction, and to wait for the pastors to walk down the center aisle, out of the sanctuary, and into the narthex. Standing up waiting you could scratch your fingernail into the wooden part of the pew in front of you to make designs in the wax coating until the music ended which meant you could talk and move around and leave and go eat lunch.
But today the service was over and we couldn’t leave because of the meeting. I’m sure I was hungry because it was after church and I was always hungry after church.
Over 100 people stayed and a few men setup some easels in the front with poster boards of building plans. Some adult talk started about money and how to pay for the new building. A smart lawyer man lead the meeting and shared a funding plan. I was drawing a picture on the back of a bulletin with a pew registry pencil.
Then my mom stood up in front of all these people and began to speak. I whipped my head up, her previous anxiety now making complete sense <-my 3rd grade self was petrified of public speaking (and most all speaking actually). Apparently my mom had a very opposite idea for how to fund construction.
She stood up more than once during that meeting. She sounded confident, passionate, and unflinching. Being there you would not have thought this women had privately cried about it an hour ago. I was too amazed to blush or be self-conscious that over 200 eyeballs were pointed our way. I probably even forgot I was hungry.
I forget the rest, but at the end there was some kind of a vote. My mom’s side definitely lost.
What I remembered was her being bold even though scared and nervous and that she was glad she’d done it even though things didn’t swing her way.
When I’ve thankfully caught small glimpses of this in myself over the years–it makes me happy and I often think of my mom.
*I’d bet $26 on the accuracy of what’s remembered here. It’s how my third-grade-self saw it, felt it, and filed it away.