GREAT LADY

GREAT LADY

From Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul

Great Lady

It seems to me that my mother was the most splendid woman I ever knew....I have met a lot of people knocking around the world since, but I have never met a more thoroughly refined woman than my mother. If I have amounted to anything, it will be due to her.

Charles Chaplin

I remember when I was in fourth grade and you used to do things like stay up half the night just to make me a Zorro outfit for Halloween. I knew you were a good mom, but I didn’t realize what a great lady you were.

I can remember your working two jobs sometimes and running the beauty shop in the front of our home so that our family would be able to make ends meet. You worked long, long hours and somehow managed to smile all the way through it. I knew you were a hard worker, but I didn’t realize what a great lady you were.

I remember the night that I came to you late—in fact, it was near midnight or perhaps beyond—and told you that I was supposed to be a king in a play at school the next day. Somehow you rose to the occasion and created a king’s purple robe with ermine on it (made of cotton and black markers). After all that work I still forgot to turn around in the play, so that no one really saw the completion of all your work. Still, you were able to laugh and love and enjoy even those kinds of moments. I knew then that you were a mother like no other, who could rise to any occasion. But I didn’t realize what a great lady you were.

I remember when I split my head open for the sixth time in a row and you told the school, “He will be okay. Just give him a little rest. I’ll come and check on him later.” They knew and I knew that you were tough, but I didn’t realize what a great lady you were.

I can remember in junior high and high school you helping me muddle through my homework—you making costumes for special events at school, you attending all my games. I knew at the time that you would try almost anything if it would help one of your children, but I didn’t realize what a great lady you were.

I remember bringing 43 kids home at 3:30 one morning when I worked for Young Life, and asking if it would be okay if they stayed over for the night and had breakfast. I remember you getting up at 4:30 to pull off this heroic feat. I knew at the time that you were a joyous and generous giver, but I didn’t realize what a great lady you were.

I can remember you attending all my football and basketball games in high school and getting so excited that you hit the person in front of you with your pompoms. I could even hear you rooting for me way out in the middle of the field. I knew then that you were one of the classic cheerleaders of all time, but I didn’t realize what a great lady you were.

I remember all the sacrifices you made so I could go to Stanford—the extra work you took on, the care packages you sent so regularly, the mail that reminded me that I wasn’t in this all alone. I knew you were a great friend, but I didn’t realize what a great lady you were.

I remember graduating from Stanford and deciding to work for $200 a month, loving kids through Young Life. Although you and Dad thought I had fallen off the end of the ladder, you still encouraged me. In fact, I remember when you came down to help me fix up my little one-room abode. You added your special, loving touch to what would have been very simple quarters. I realized then— and time and time again—what a creative genius you were, but I didn’t realize what a great lady you were.

Time wore on, I grew older and got married and started a family. You became “NaNa” and cherished your new role, yet you never seemed to grow older. I realized then that God had carved out a special place in life when he made you, but I didn’t realize what a great, great lady you were.

I got slowed down by an accident. Things got a little tougher for me. But you stood alongside as you always had. Some things, I thought, never change—and I was deeply grateful. I realized then what I had known for a long time—what a great nurse you can be—but I didn’t realize what a great, great lady you were.

I wrote some books, and people seemed to like them. You and Dad were so proud that sometimes you gave people copies of the books just to show what one of your kids had done. I realized then what a great promoter you were, but I didn’t realize what a great, great lady you were.

Times have changed . . . seasons have passed, and one of the greatest men I have ever known has passed along as well. I can still remember you at the memorial service, standing tall and proud in a brilliant purple dress, reminding people, “How blessed we have been, and how thankful we are for a life well lived.” In those moments I saw a woman who could stand tall and grateful amidst the most difficult of circumstances. I was beginning to discover what a great, great lady you are.

In the last year, when you have had to stand alone as never before, all of what I have observed and experienced all those years has come together in a brand new way. In spite of it all, now your laughter is richer, your strength is stronger, your love is deeper, and I am discovering in truth what a great, great lady you are.

Tim Hansel

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