We have all heard it said that a mother’s love lasts forever and a mother will stand by and defend her child no matter what. And we all know not to get between a mama bear and her cubs. I have also seen in played out in the schools where I’ve worked as a school psychologist for the past 21 years and in my previous career as an Army psychologist. It’s pretty clear to me that God built that bond into a mother’s psyche (mind, emotions, and will) and undoubtedly into a mother’s genetic code as well.
I have actually written a song called “Only a Mother’s Love” that has yet to be recorded by my artist wife, Rebecca Linda Smith. The song is planned for a future country album called First Love. The song describes the unconditional and unending love of a mother and the bond she has with her offspring as well as God’s unconditional love for his children.
The lady who did the song melody and demo, Karen Kay Russell, said she thinks this is the prettiest song I’ve ever written and she’s done many of our Christian and Inspiration song melodies. On a side note, Karen Kay traveled to Nashville with us for the first time in 2005 with our early Christian songs and demos. (I wrote a song about this called “Going to Nashville” that’s on Rebecca Linda’s new Hope album.) Karen Kay met and later married talented musician David Russell who plays fiddle and mandolin on almost all of our songs. They reside in Nashville.
The intro to this article is my way of introducing my loving mom, Lillian Smith, a widow of 10 years, who lives in the small coastal town of Carrabelle, about 60 miles southwest of Tallahassee. She recently celebrated her 83rd birthday after a series of illness that she has overcome with faith, perseverance, and good old fashioned stubbornness. In fact, we heard her cardiologist call her “one tough old bird.”
My mom went into Tallahassee Memorial Hospital in March 2012 with low blood count and her doctor discovered a large pre-cancerous polyp during an exploratory colonoscopy that could only taken out later by surgery. And then, before her staples had even been removed, she had to go back to the hospital for a heart valve replacement to repair a bad heart murmur that became acute following the first surgery.
After a few days, she then needed a heart pacemaker that had to be surgically implanted the day after the July 4 holiday. The heart surgeon had to revive her in the operating room when her heart stopped beating. The doctor said they had waited too long and the temporary pacemaker equipment failed. I believe she survived with all the prayers and because God still has a mission for her on earth.
After two weeks in the rehab center, she went home but had to go back to have the cardiologist shock her heart a couple months later to get her heart back into rhythm. Now, my mom is beginning to get back into her routine before all the surgeries. This includes a Christian music ministry at the nursing home across the street from where she lives, as a volunteer for the local historical society at the annual Suwannee River Jamboree near Jacksonville where she gave talks on the history of Carrabelle, sang and answered questions from the audience.
She is also an invited speaker and singer at local churches and various women’s events. Locals refer to her as the “town historian.” Her memory is sharp as a tack, as they say. With all that, she still has time to talk with me almost daily and is always baking banana bread, chocolate chip cookie bars and other treats for folks in her community. Many return the favor by bringing her fish, shrimp, and other seafood.
My mom loves the Lord and, along with my dad, taught me about being a Christian by the lives they lived and taking me to church. They also taught me how to fish. (Did you know that “Jesus Was a Fisherman?” I wrote a song by that title that country artist Dave Caley recorded on his Live This Life CD.)
I can’t count the number of times we went camping and fishing ‘up the river’ or ‘down in the bayou’ or at the coastal bay. Later, as a young adult, we went offshore in the Gulf of Mexico for bigger game fish and my mom even went shrimping for a living with my dad (all night long) after he retired from his road building job as a civil engineer with the road department and had his own small shrimp and seaworthy boat.
Growing up we also helped supplement my dad’s income by going oystering and my mom would cull oysters (as did I) or would help hog, oysters from oyster bars on low tide. I’ll never forget all those cold blustery days on the water in winter months. That was hard work but I learned from my mom (and dad) not to expect handouts but to work for what you wanted. It only made me become a more responsible person and want an indoor job.
While attending Florida State University, I had my own oyster boat that I’d leave on St. George Island in the Apalachicola Bay and my mom would shuck the oysters that I would tong on weekends from the shallow bay bottom or sometimes pick up on low tides. Every time we go to Florida to visit family and I see an oyster boat, it brings back so many fond as well as bitter (cold) memories.
My precious mom never stopped loving me or praying for me when I ‘backslid’ while in college and went through a stage of doubt and turned away from God, only to come back to the Lord 10 years later (at 30 years of age). My mom and the Lord never turned their backs on me and I made “Jesus Lord of my Life” (another song I wrote that’s on Rebecca Linda’s Jesus’ Grace CD.)
We are about to release a single called “Lord Teach Me How To Pray” (from Rebecca Linda’s Hope album.) That song is my own personal testimony of my journey from kneeling to pray as a child and knowing about God but not really knowing God and how to pray, through the stage of doubt and rebellion, to salvation by God’s grace. This song will be on Joe Baker’s Backforty Roundup compilation, Inspirational Country compilation with HMG Nashville, and also on Glory Train Records compilation that will go to gospel and country stations in the U.S. and worldwide.
I thank my mom for her continual love and prayers and for never giving up on me. I can truthfully say that ‘only a mother’s love’ is what my mom displays 24/7 every day of the year. If your mom is still alive, I suggest you tell her how much you love and appreciate her. May God bless and keep you as ‘only a mother’s love’ can do.
Smith, of El Paso, Texas, is the son of Lillian and the late Edgar Smith of Carrabelle. He serves as the Western Swing Guild Consultant for Gospel/Inspirational music.