The First: A twenty-four-year-old woman suffered a set of muscular contractions granting passage to a child. I was that child, and the young woman became my first significant mother. She did not have an easy life. When I was one year old, World War 2 broke out, and her country, Holland, was overrun by German armies. The following year, she gave birth to another boy. He had a leaking heart valve and died nine months later. She had two more children during the war and two more later. When I was only four years old, I remember sitting with Mama as she read me Bible stories from the illustrated Dutch Kinderbijbel. I owe my love for God to her. She emigrated to Canada with five children, including a five-month-old baby. Her faith in God did not waver, even during the poverty-stricken first decade as an immigrant.
The Second significant mother in my life was Jo’s Mom. She dedicated Jo to God for missionary service at her birth. Wanting to let Jo make her own decision, she did not tell Jo until after she graduated from Bible College and was on her way to take missionary training at BIOLA University.
The Third significant mother is my Josephine. She became a mother with the birth of Valorie—the first of three daughters—a year after we were married. For the fifty-eight years since then, Jo has been as close to an ideal mother for our daughters as I can imagine.
I always think of these three mothers when I read Psalm 92:12, 14: “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree . . . they shall still bring forth fruit in old age.”
The Fourth significant mother was our second daughter, Leanne, who gave birth to twin boys thirty years ago, making Jo and me grandparents. What a marvellous over-the-top experience that continues to be.
The Fifth: A few years later, our youngest daughter, Cheryl, had a little girl. Our first granddaughter, who made Cheryl my fifth significant mother. A few years later she had our third grandson.
The Sixth: The following year Valorie became my sixth significant mother with the birth of her daughter, followed a few years later with the birth of triplet daughters.
The Sacrifice: It was not until Jo and I were grandparents ourselves that we realized the sacrifice our mothers had made when they encouraged us to leave for Brazil as missionaries, taking away their only grandchildren, two and four years old, and a four-month-old baby whom they would not see again for four years.
Jo and I remained in Brazil for years after our daughters graduated and left to live and study in Canada, the USA and Germany. We prayed much for them. When they became mothers themselves, we praised God and were overjoyed that they keep inviting us to share in their lives and the lives of their children.
I thank God for giving me these six mothers in my life. I appreciate each one so much. They have helped me grow in my spiritual life and gave me a powerful reason to mature me in other ways. I also loved exercising the privilege of having significant input into various facets of their lives.