Mom had a Mary spirit

By Loren Hardin - Contributing Columnist



This is part two of a series about Ruth who was ninety when she enrolled in our outpatient hospice program. Her late husband, Loren, was the love of her life and she was his leading lady. They attended the same church for almost sixty years and actively engaged in various ministries, but they had a special place in their hearts for young people.

Several years ago, Ruth and Loren, co-led an Explorers Post. Explorer Posts are an affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America serving youths aged fourteen to twenty. Its emphasis is on outdoor activities designed to develop character, leadership and “learning for life”. Ruth reminisced, “We had the group for about thirteen years. It was a co-ed scouting group so you had to have both a male and a female leader. We had bake sales and car washes and did anything we could to raise money to take the kids to Colorado. When we were there a fellow came to teach the group how to repel.” I asked Ruth, “Did you repel?” and she replied, “I did it! I repelled once, but I was scared!”

Ruth’s daughter Becky shared, “Mom was always a champion of people. She was like a mother to so many people. Mom had a ‘Mary spirit’, not a ‘Martha Spirit’ She always put people before things. Mom may not like me saying this, and it’s not like she didn’t keep a tidy house, but mom didn’t put housework before people. To mom, people were always first. That’s what I mean by a ‘Mary spirit’”.

Of course, Becky was referring to the story of Martha and Mary recorded in Luke 10:38-42. Martha and Mary, along with their brother, Lazarus, were evidently good friends with Jesus, seeing that John wrote, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus,” (John 11:5). They lived in the small village of Bethany, about two miles outside of Jerusalem. When Jesus and his disciples were passing through on foot, “Martha welcomed Him into her home.” Like a good hostess, Martha got busy, probably preparing an impressive several course meal, while her sister Mary “…was seated at the Lord’s feet and was listening to His word”. Like sisters tend to do, Martha was upset and told on Mary, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do the serving by myself. Then tell her to help me.’”. Martha was likely disappointed with Jesus’ response, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” You see, Mary, like Ruth, didn’t put things before people.

Ruth’s son, Bruce, shared: “Earlier this summer my wife, Mary, and I had the opportunity to take mom to church, the Wheelersburg United Methodist where Mom and Dad have attended since around 1954. As we were leaving on that rainy Sunday I was holding the umbrella over her while she talked with another worshiper about someone that was in need of prayer. I was able to look around and notice the parking lot was empty. As they conversed I was able to reflect about how many times throughout my life this same scene had played out. Mom would always engage with someone about their, or a family member’s needs, long after others had left. Why, because people knew she would talk to them or do something to help them when they needed it. My Mother had a heart for everyone.”

Ruth’s son, Scott, shared, “When I think of my mom I think of kind, caring, spiritual, and hard working. Mom is concerned about how everyone is doing. Certainly I don’t know other people’s daily habits, but I believe mom is one of the most spiritual people I know. Both when I was growing up and now; she continues to spend significant time praying and reading her bible. She has always been very accepting of people. I haven’t heard her say anything negative about anyone. I owe a lot to the environment she and our dad put in place. I saw them work hard and be frugal with their resources. She is a kind, gentle woman who has touched many lives.”

Ruth’s son, Jeff, emailed me a seventeen minute video he filmed during Ruth’s ninety-first birthday party. Jeff asked each friend there to share who and what Ruth had been to them. The video concluded with a tribute from Patty, who had been a member of Ruth and Loren’s Explorer’s Post some forty years earlier. Following are excerpts from Patty’s response: “Your mom and dad had spent four years raising us in the Explorer Post. We were together all the time doing everything; so I really feel like your parents raised me. In 1977 when my mother died she was there for me. And if I needed to know how to cook something, or clean something or whatever, she knew how to do it. She is always so happy to see me and she never fusses if it’s been too long in between. Whenever I stop she makes me feel like I am absolutely the queen of the world; because she’s so thrilled to see me. And we always have the best visits. And she never fuses about me talking too much or too long.”

Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and heard his words. She treated Jesus like He was the King of the world. Ruth sat and heard Patty’s words and made her feel like the queen. I’ve come to realize that people may forget what we’ve said, they may forget what we’ve done, and they may even forget who we are, but they’ll remember how we made them feel.

“Imagine there’s a sign hanging from the neck of everyone you meet that says, ‘Make me feel important,’” (Lorene Hogge, departed hospice patient).


By Loren Hardin

Contributing Columnist

Loren Hardin is a social worker with SOMC-Hospice and can be reached at 740-357-6091 or at [email protected] You can order Loren’s book, “Straight Paths: Insights for living from those who have finished the course”, at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Loren Hardin is a social worker with SOMC-Hospice and can be reached at 740-357-6091 or at [email protected] You can order Loren’s book, “Straight Paths: Insights for living from those who have finished the course”, at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.