I Remember Mama

by Ted Kyle

I Remember Mama was the title of a wonderful black-and-white film about a Norwegian immigrant who mothered her family, some three-quarters of a century ago in California.

It's also a pretty good introduction for any of us to reminisce about our mother. And I'd like to share with you some recollections about the godly woman who bore eight children who lived, and then, after Father died, who reared us "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord"—or as close as she could come, given the immensity of the task.

Merle Jewell Kyle passed on to glory almost 30 years ago—but this will be a tribute to you, Mother.

I suppose it was after Dad died on an operating table in Mayo Clinic, as the surgeon struggled to remove a brain tumor, that my mother survived a crisis I can only imagine. Not only did she have all of us to manage and care for, she also had the family farm to run, with only the slimmest of resources.

With only school-age children, plus one hired man, to do the farm work, Mom switched our farm animals from cows to goats, as they were much easier for youngsters to handle. I really liked that! Kids—baby goats—are so frisky and frolicsome, so utterly lovable!

There were innumerable problems she faced, but I was blissfully unaware of them at the time. I was just four years old when my father died—in fact, my only memory of Father is a fragmentary image of a masculine hand raised to threaten a swat for misbehavior. That's it. No face, no voice. Just a handbut I'm looking forward to meeting the whole of him someday soon.

With town (and our church) eight miles away, it was often difficult in winter in the 1930s to get to church. But it was always a scheduled event, even if it didn't always work out. When it didn't, Mom frequently organized family worship times in our living room. I don't remember much about them, except that I would earn reprimands for dozing off.

Mostly, though, her influence, and the outward legacy she left us, was about fairness and getting along and keeping our word and pitching in. Farming called for teamwork, and there was a part for everyone to play. (Mine usually involved keeping up the good fight against weeds in our big family garden, and helping Mom can the good corn and tomatoes and peas and beans and beets, and the apples and cherries and peaches, too. We largely lived from the garden, the orchard, and the hen house; the field crops were strictly for cash income.)

­Mother, your quiet faith, your guiding hand, and your steady prayer life, were used by God to plant your children's feet firmly on the road toward Home. "Thanks" is too small a word, but it will have to do: Thanks, Mom.

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