She was a woman of limited means. Oh, she’s had money back in the day, but it left years ago with the coal. And she was 79. Old by many standards, but not ours. It was remarkable, amazing even, the impact she had on others in our area and on social media.
Hundreds lined up last Sunday to pay their respects and share tidbits of her presence in their lives-many with tears, others with smiles. One friend shared, “This is a loss for the whole community.” I agreed. We were talking about my precious mother, Nancy Loftis Blackburn, who had died suddenly a few days before.
I’d never planned to be in this club. I had comforted others-or tried to-who had lost their mothers but had rarely pictured myself in their shoes. She and I talked often about going to heaven in the Rapture. (We both said 2020 sounded like a great year for it!) Many in my family were trying to lure her to live or at least stay with them in other parts of the state. We had lots of plans for her and with her!
My mom loved her Lord and shared Him with others. She loved her church and was absolutely thrilled about her new pastor and his wife. Life was flowing again at the church where she had attended and served since the 1940s.
Our mother had overcome many obstacles during her life. She was very strong-and stubborn, too, a trait she had passed down in abundance to me, my beloved says.
Decades ago, with six kids in tow, she left an abusive marriage with my stepfather and quickly descended into hell. We went into hiding for a long period of time. During those intense months and difficult years that followed, my mom didn’t wring her hands and walk the floor. She planted her feet firmly in the Word of God, desperately believing all of it. Her favorite passage was Psalm 91.
She had a Bible verse for every day and every situation. Though as a teenager I didn’t fully appreciate it, it made a lasting impression. From that “valley of the shadow of death” experience I learned many things about God: that He could be trusted, His Word was true, alive and active. From my mother, I learned what faith looked like. She didn’t just hear the Word, she was a “doer” also (James 1:22).
As my beloved shared in her Celebration of Life service on Sunday, God was our mom’s Plan A. She did not have a Plan B.
Her passing has been way harder than I expected. To be honest, I had gone through the scenario in my head several times. She was 79 + so I knew her days were probably numbered. I pictured myself saying, “We know she is in heaven,” and smiling at the thought. While I CAN say that and know it’s true, it hurts like a hog bite. (A “hog bite” is the bite from a hog.) My brothers, sisters and I are still numb.
But…we, too, can find comfort and strength in God’s Word. We can trust in the God of our mother. We also can say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust,” Psalm 91:2.
Dawn Reed is a newspaper columnist and pastor's wife in Prestonsburg. Reach her at email@example.com