Anne Darnall passed from earth to heaven two weeks ago today. She is my mom. My heart hurts. I missed her the moment I walked into her empty house the night she died. I missed her when I left that same house 10 days later after sorting through and cleaning out her earthly stuff. I missed her yesterday because it was my daughter’s birthday, and there was no grandmother to call her or send a specially-chosen card. Yes, I miss my mom, but I haven’t missed the fact that she left an incredible legacy for me, my three brothers and all of our family members. A legacy of how to serve Jesus faithfully as a woman.
Momma loved Jesus and His people. She was one of the first women from her “all-white” church to join the racially-diverse Church Women United in the early 1960s. She was criticized by some of her friends for doing so, but that didn’t stop her from participating in activities shoulder-to-shoulder with women from “all-black” churches, getting to know those women and considering them friends. Her example to me was the opposite of the Junior League women portrayed in the movie, The Help. So, I grew up to be “color blind” and to have respect for those whose skin color was different from mine. Thank you, Momma, for that legacy.
Momma jumped in to serve in her local church wherever she was needed — nursery coordinator, Sunday School director, youth chaperone and counselor. She was teaching children’s Sunday School until her late 70s whenever a teacher was needed. My mother also was very active in women’s ministries at her church, leading small groups as well as directing the whole shebang. Even with a high position, she didn’t hesitate to serve in the kitchen at an event. I saw this growing up. I didn’t appreciate it then. But, her example to me strongly influenced my eagerness to jump into ministry at whatever church Ron and I were attending. Even while I was directing the women’s Bible study, I’d look around to see what else needed to be done – organizing the library, writing children’s curriculum, or cleaning out the craft closet. Thank you, Momma, for that legacy.
Momma cared for people around her. She helped to found and run a ministry (called United Christian Outreach) to help the needy in her hometown of Lafayette, LA. For 40 years, she raised money and made sure it was spent wisely to help the needy. She didn’t give it up until the month before she died at 87. Momma also brought meals and homemade bread to encourage her friends. Her house was the best restaurant in town. Our home was “Grand Central Station” as I was growing up. Neighbors were welcome at any time. A pot of coffee was quickly brewed and served. Cousins stayed with us often. Friends from out of town stayed at our house rather than at a hotel, always feeling comfortable in Momma’s house. She showed me it was more important to be hospitable than to be cautious about someone messing up our things or our privacy. Thank you, Momma, for that legacy.
Momma wrote letters. She also kept every letter people wrote to her. Last week, while going through mounds of keepsakes, I discovered all the cards and letters our children wrote to her from the time they were babies through recent years as adults. I have the letters she wrote to them as children. Though we fussed about having to go through all her many boxes and parcels of keepsakes, I am grateful that she had that “save everything” perspective. She has given us a gift — a slice of life between a loving grandmother and her grandchildren that is now so precious. Thank you, Momma, for that legacy.
I could go on and on. My heart still hurts. Lots. It will hurt for many months to come. Yes, my hope in Christ grounds me in the fact that I will see her again — completely whole and cancer-free. Along with my dad who preceded her into heaven. As a woman, wife, and mother, I am so grateful for her legacy. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for gifting me with such a wonderful woman to be my mom.