By Iris Little Bird
When I arrived at Mom and Dad’s home seeds of rebellion had been planted in my young life. I had been mistreated and life was a hardship to me already. Teenage years had arrived with great turbulence. Mom and Dad had a home of love. I was shown through example that there is a way of love in life. Mom did not give birth to me — but she gave me much more.
Mom and Dad took over 100 children into their home and life over the course of many years. I saw them open their hearts and home to each child. Mom always said, “There is room for one more.” I watched her love work miracles in the lives of the babies and children who came with anguish into her home.
She said, “Many people say that they can’t be foster parents because you get attached and then you have to release that child. It *is* tough, but what keeps you going is that there is another child waiting. When one child leaves, there is no replacing them, but the needs of a new child fill the empty spot they left.”
Mom taught me how to laugh and play. Her house always had a full table with wonderful foods and laughter to be shared. Yet, as a hurting teenager, I often tried her gentleness. She believed in the “mean mom syndrome” as in, “You can make better grades than a D”. I started bringing home A’s and B’s — and she smiled. Many years later the seeds of love she’d planted in a rebellious teen’s life germinated. On my graduating day as a nurse, she said, “I always knew you could.” One day she said to me, “Thank you for coming to *me*.”
Years later when I visited home as a young adult, I told Mom it didn’t feel right without a baby “on the blanket”. Always, there had been a baby on the blanket in the living room. When I returned, Toby was “on the blanket”. Although Mom and Dad were in their 60s they had adopted their “child of laughter”. People asked what if Toby lost them due to their age. Mom answered that she was more concerned about what would happen to him without them at this young stage, rather than if he lost them later.
When Mom was fighting cancer, even then she taught us of strength and courageous love. Since 1999, Dad has been raising Toby, now a teenager, by himself. Now, in the wind, I hear Mom’s gentle voice.
What she taught me is inside of me and affects everything I do. I try to walk in honor of the loving soul she was, the wondrous mother and good wife. She will always be “The Woman Named Love” to me.