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  • Shawn Thornton

My Mom's Kindness

Sunday - May 10th

Today's Scripture to Read: Hebrews 13:1-2

We spent many nights as a family at campgrounds--camping as a way to get away. Usually, at night we would head to the shower house just before bedtime. Troy, Dad, and I would walk with Mom and then, of course, separate as Mom entered the ladies' shower area, and we headed toward the men's shower room. Campgrounds usually had open, screened windows up high in the shower rooms to keep moisture from allowing mildew buildup inside the showers and to let the fresh air blow through the rather basic facility. While we were in the men's showers, through those open windows, we could usually hear Mom talking away and laughing with other ladies. From inside the men's shower area, it would be hard to make out more from the conversation the ladies were having other than Mom's excited louder-than-normal voice and bold laugh.  


We spent many nights as a family at campgrounds--camping as a way to getaway. Usually, at night we would head to the shower house just before bedtime. Troy, Dad, and I would walk with Mom and then, of course, separate as Mom entered the ladies' shower area, and we headed toward the men's shower room. Campgrounds usually had open, screened windows up high in the shower rooms to keep moisture from allowing mildew buildup inside the showers and to let the fresh air blow through the rather basic facility. While we were in the men's showers, through those open windows, we could usually hear Mom talking away and laughing with other ladies. From inside the men's shower area, it would be hard to make out more from the conversation the ladies were having other than Mom's excited louder-than-normal voice and bold laugh.  

My Mom had suffered from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) at the age of 14 and had several challenges physically, emotionally, and mentally. Just walking on a rocky gravel path to the showers could be hard for her. She struggled to find our campsite if she headed to the bathroom or the showers on her own. Because of these difficulties, we listened to Mom's voice. If she was talking, that was a good sign that she was still in the ladies' shower room and was making a friend or two. Sometimes the friendships became very strong very quickly. Mom wouldn't come out when we were ready to head to the campsite. Dad would leave us boys to guide her home. We would try to yell up through the open windows high up in the wall. Troy and I often thought that Mom never heard us since she was enjoying herself so much. 

We would beg her to hear us and come out. Eventually, when she came out of the shower room, she had made a great new friend. She would tell us where they were from, how many children or grandchildren they had, whether or not they were Christians, and any other bit of information she had gleaned. When we got back to the campsite, she told the whole story of her new friend to Dad just like she had to us on the way back. She would know the person's name and would speak with the familiarity of a 25-year friendship. Dad, Troy, and I found it odd and sometimes a bit uncomfortable to hear Mom talk about a stranger in such a way. 

For Mom, she had met a new friend for life. And often, if we met the lady over the next day or two, they spoke about Mom like she was an old familiar friend. They might talk about how kind, thoughtful, and relatable Mom was to them. I guess it would be hard for any kid to think of their Mother as someone who could connect and encourage another person so quickly and so deeply. My Mom could do just that. She could value a perfect stranger. Show them kindness. Engage them in meaningful conversation. And ultimately, lift their spirits in how she had connected with them. 

Just as Hebrews 13:1-2 encourages, my Mom could show sisterly love and hospitality to strangers in such a way that they received it like she had been a life-long-friend. We usually worried and fretted that she was driving the other ladies crazy in the shower room. We wanted to limit or end her interaction with them for their own good. We would be surprised time and time again how our Mother could impact others when we knew her challenges and shortcomings because of the TBI.

On this Mother's Day, I miss my Mom. Today is the 21st Mother's Day that she has been in Heaven. What Troy and I know about Mom's uncanny ability to make friends quickly and encourage them genuinely we wish our kids had seen. She was an excellent example of treating everyone equally and importantly. I wish I had more of that type of open, caring approach to others. 

How about you? Do people you meet find you to be an encouragement at whatever depth of connection they make with you? Try to smile and say a kind word to someone at a store or a friend of a friend online (smile in an online way). Just telling you this story and meditating on Hebrews 13:1-2 brought a smile to my face because I was reminded of my Mother's kindness to strangers in those campground shower rooms!


Happy Mother's Day, Mom!


Simple words of kindness to a stranger can be a refreshing blessing to them!

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