It must have been about 1957 or so. I had been playing in the back yard on a hot summer day, doing those things seven year old boys do. I had worked up quite a thirst, so I made a bee line for the back door of the house to get a good cold drink. Mom always kept a pitcher of Kool Aid (Cherry of course) in the old Frigidaire refrigerator. Opening the cabinet door, I pulled out one of those glass tumblers that Dad would get at the Ashland Oil Station for buying three dollars worth of gas. (Things have changed a little since 1957) Guzzling that Kool Aid from the big glass gave me a red mustache that would last the rest of the day!
I wondered where Mom was. This time of the day, she was almost always in the kitchen. It was the nerve center of the house. She was usually in the kitchen, cooking, or washing dishes. If not that, she could usually be found there ironing the fresh smelling laundry that had just come off the back yard clothes line. She had one of those little metal sprinkler "do-dads" that plugged into an RC Cola bottle filled with water. She would sprinkle a little water on the item of clothing or linen draped across the ironing board. I can still remember the hiss and the steamy hot smell as the hot iron was applied to the cloth. Looking back, it seems that an awful lot of the activity in our home in those days took place in the kitchen, and Mom was the queen of the kitchen.
At this particular time, however, Mom was nowhere to be found. So unusual! I walked to the living room and looked around. She wasn't there. "Perhaps" I thought to myself "She's putting some clothes away in the chest of drawers. But a quick check of her bedroom revealed nothing. My little brother, Bruce, was getting his afternoon nap in his crib, and yet no sign of Mom. Then I heard her voice. It was coming from the bathroom of all places. "Who is she talking to in the bathroom?" I wondered, half aloud.
Walking to the closed bathroom door, I heard her voice more plainly. She was talking to someone, indeed, but for the life of me I couldn't imagine who would be in that small bathroom with her at this time of the afternoon. I heard her say my name, so quietly pressing my right ear to the door I determined to hear what she was saying about me, and to whom she was saying it.
I suddenly understood to whom Mom was talking. She was praying. And she was praying for me! It was one of those "Divine Appointments". You know what I mean? It was one of those occasions when God just makes sure He brings you to a certain spot at a particular time, to indelibly impress on your memory a particular event.
"Father" she prayed, "please take care of my boys. Bless C.J. and protect him. May he grow up to love you and please use him in your service."
She said more, of course. She prayed for little Bruce. She made petition to God for Dad, and asked Him to use Dad to win many souls to Jesus. She prayed for our daily provision, and she asked forgiveness for her own sin and shortcoming. She prayed for sick friends and neighbors, and she thanked God for sending His own Son, Jesus, to give us forgiveness and eternal life.
Now, prayer was not unusual in our home. We prayed before bed. We prayed before meals. When one of us was sick or hurt, intercession was made for us. Of course we prayed in church too. But this prayer was somehow different. It wasn't being offered at any of those regular times. Mom had no idea I was in the house. The baby was napping, she thought I was still in the back yard, and she had stolen away for a rare quiet moment alone with God.
Fortunately for me, God saw to it that I was there to hear the prayer, and to realize something that I have not forgotten over the next 53 years.
My mother prayed for me! She did it in private. She did it alone with the Father. It was not for me to hear, but God saw to it that I did. Looking back today, I realize that she has prayed for me all my life - even before I was born. I thank God for the example of a praying mother, and I thank God for how He has answered her prayers.
On this Mother's Day in 2010, I want to wish her a happy Mother's Day, and I want to thank God for Patsy Stidham Adkins. Her's is the face that pops into my mind, when I hear the word "mother".
Recently the "Herald-Dispatch" daily newspaper in Huntington, WV, solicited its readers to write a few words about their mothers. Here is the portion of what I submitted that was printed in today's paper:
"My mother, Patsy Adkins, was a stay at home mom for many years. Her days and nights were filled with caring for the three of us boys, and keeping things organized for Dad, who was a very busy bi-vocational evangelist. She was sharp as a tack and took care of most of the "business" of the family. She read constantly, loved to discuss the Bible, and taught teenage girls in Sunday School. She also always worked in Vacation Bible School in the summers.
Sometime in late 1995 we begin to notice some changes in Mom. What we first passed off as "absent mindedness" eventually became reason for concern. She obviously had trouble with her short-term memory, and her behavior patterns were changing. When the diagnosis came back -- Alzheimer's Disease -- her life, and ours changed forever.
The one who once was the rock that anchored our family, now is not sure of the name of the President, the day or year, or even her own age. What a cruel disease for such a dear lady to endure.
With Mother's Day arriving soon, and Mom's 81st birthday coming just a few days later, I know that no gifts or flowers or cards that we give her will be remembered for more than a few minutes. I also know that the day will probably come when she will not even know who we are. But we will know who she is, and will continually thank God for giving us such a dear and precious Mother."