Every year during the month of May in the United Stateswe celebrate, Mother’s Day, an annual event in which family members are given the opportunity to honor their Mother’s. This is a meaningful gesture, which corresponds with a biblical teaching that says, “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise; “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” (See Exodus 20:12 and Ephesians 6:2-3). No one can deny that it is the compassionate and enduring patience of a Mother that has been the backbone and strength of raising our troubling humanity. Witness in the Public Square would like to wish all Mother’s around the world “Happy Mother’s Day.”
I would like to share a few memories etched in my mind about a tall, attractive and gregarious woman, Juanita Killens, whose gait, grace and style exemplifies the characteristics of a true Queen — my mom, who will always be dear to my heart. With the assistance of her husband Jack, they raised a family of six boys and one girl—by no means an easy task—but from my perspective they were successful. Of course, in a family of nine things aren’t always easy, but, as a devoted Christian and homemaker, my mother graciously surrendered many of her own desires demonstrating her love towards us with sacrificial aptitude. I am persuaded that success had to do with the turn of events in her life in San Francisco. It was from that point on that she was determined to instill in her seven children God’s Word, hard work, and moral values.
It was on her way to a dance early one night in 1954, my mother, captivated by Christian music coming from a small little old church under the pastorate of Bishop King “Mount Zion Full Gospel Lighthouse” that she stepped inside to pass the time until the “big” dance was to begin later that evening. However, my mother never made it to the dance. An even greater event occurred—she became a born again Christian that night and it changed her life significantly. I can attest to her true love and devotion to Jesus Christ, her Lord and Savior, because I observed it growing up. My mother learned to play piano by ear. But her most cherished gift was that of singing, which she used to conduct praise and worship whenever she got a chance. I recall a story that she related to me about a long train trip to an out-of-state church function. My mother began to share the gospel with some of the passengers (strangers) in her section of the train, and in short order they were joining her in having praise and worship service on the train. Along with her ability to create a sense of serenity in people’s lives, my mother’s contagious laughter also contributed to making people feel comfortable around her. The affectionate, humble, and caring person that she was caused people she came in contact with to easily relate to her as a friend or big sister.
We were never a wealthy family (if that’s how one determines success), but what we were given from my mother was a gift of greater wealth, namely moral values. I do not remember a day where we went without food, clothing, or shelter. Brand name foods and clothing weren’t standard repertoires in our lives. Our staple many times consisted of generic brands, and often we had to share our clothes with each other. For most people this may seem embarrassing, as it was to me growing up, but my mother’s frugality was her way of loving us enough to want us to look decent without being excessive. I remember a cheap pair of $2 brown tennis shoes my mom got me in high school because my other pair had holes in the soles. That was probably one of the most embarrassing days of my life. My classmates teased me – I never wore those shoes again. Being an adult, and having my own children, helps me understand the wisdom behind her reasoning and approach to life. She really trusted in the provisions promised by her God.
Neither time nor space permits me to share the many joyful and painful moments I have experienced with my mother. I have only provided you with a glimpse of her life. You would have to talk to those who knew Juanita during her more vibrant years. Soon to turn 70, my mother was stricken with a disease know as dementia (a progressive irreversible deterioration of the intellectual faculties) since mid-1993 and was residing in a convalescent home in the final stages of Alzheimer’s (long-and-short term memory loss) where the lifespan from onset to its final stages are estimated to be ten years. The final stages of this disease has been the most difficult for me, because conducting any meaningful communication with my mother was impossible—yet I continue to communicate with her in hopes that something would register in her mind, through a smile, a look, or a even a non-discernible utterance made by her. It’s ironic. Singing, mother’s most cherished gift, is the last vestige Alzheimer’s attempts to conquer.
Sometimes I would get discouraged and say to myself, “who needs this? I’m just wasting my time going out there to see her.” Reminiscing of all of the sacrifices she made for me I’m quickly brought back to reality—she’s the only mother I have. So, I prioritize my busy schedule and make time for her. I want to do all that I can to acknowledge her as “The World’s Greatest Mom.” Speaking on behalf of all my siblings, we all would like to thank God for allowing Juanita L. Killens to be a part of our lives (May 1932-February 2003) —You’re the best, Mom!!! WE LOVE YOU.
Please take time out this Mother’s Day to say a nice word or do something special for your mom. Remember, they will not be around forever. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY