A Tribute to Mama — A Life Well Lived

 

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Mom in the early 1960’s in front of our roses — her favorite flower.

This is a different kind of Mother’s Day for me.  Like many others I know, this is the first one without my Mom.   Since I can’t send  flowers or gifts  to her this year, I thought I’d  share the gift of her life with you instead.

Meet my Mom, Helen Eugenia Brownlee Waters, a.k.a. Mom, Mama, Memaw/Grandma —  born in South Carolina  June 10, 1923.

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Mom at her 90th birthday party (2013)

I cannot even begin to tell you how much I love this woman and how very  thankful I am that God allowed us to enjoy her presence for almost 93 years.  On those days when she felt weak and feeble and wondered why God had left her here on this earth so long, I always told her…”It’s because your baby girl still needs you! ” …and I really, really meant that.

You never stop needing your Mom…

My Mom loved me through all the seasons of life–even the crazy teenage years when I thought boys were more important than just about anything else in the world.  When I received my adult badge in college, I realized mom wasn’t so bad after all but  after getting married and having 4 children of my own,  I was convinced my mom was actually brilliant and I couldn’t live without her!

Over 90 years on earth brought about much wisdom to share with us from her own life experiences …World War II , the Great Depression, the rise and fall of many leaders  and world powers,  civil rights issues, man walking on the moon, and technological advances as well as  her own personal path of marriage, ministry and raising 7 children  — to name a few.

But I can tell you one thing for sure, if asked what was the most important event in her life, she would tell you — hands down — accepting Jesus Christ into her life …walking with Him every day and enjoying His presence …knowing Him in a real and intimate way.  This special relationship with Jesus began in her early years of life and mushroomed into something of a deep, abiding love over the years.

She taught me to love — above  all else —  my Jesus…my Savior !

As a young woman in her early years of business college, she met and fell in love with a man named John Waters. Together they were world changers!  They loved God with all their hearts, loved each other faithfully and  loved people of all backgrounds and personalities.  Wherever they went they shared the love of Jesus to all they came in contact with.

In her life with Daddy,  Mama taught me  what it looked like to love your husband well… being faithful to the end.

My Dad — John Waters

My Mom in 1941

Mom & Dad in 1943
Wedding Picture

Between 1944 and 1961 she gave birth to 7 children — 5 boys and 2 girls.   Besides her deep love for God and her love and devotion to my Dad … Mom loved her kids intensely.   

David, Linda , me, Johnny
Phil, Paul, Danny
Early 1960’s(aren’t we so cute !!!)

As I experienced that “Mama-love”, it taught me how to love  my  own family...to be loyal to my family … to fight for my family… to pray earnestly for my family …to nurture and care for my family … to teach my family about Jesus and His Word ...to worship God together …to be kind and respectful … to call  often … to say “I love you” often … to greet each other with a “morning hug” … to serve each other… to be willing to put yourself last so others can have what they need  … to talk through everything together …to pray about everything –and I mean everything !!!

My Mom with all 7 of her children – along with their spouses
Linda & Dennis Carter, John & Jackie, David & Kay, Danny & Gail, Paul & Mary Jane, Phil & Lenna Waters, and Roger & Joy Martin

Mom with her oldest son, Johnny at her birthday a few years ago

And I need to tell you this … in her love for her husband, her children and their spouses, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren…this woman prayed for all of us — by nameon a regular basis , if not daily!  What really matters  to someone tends to show up when you clean out their house and her house of 45 years was full of notes scribbled in notebooks and on slips of paper spelling out her love for God and His Word  and her love for others through written prayers.

Photo of Mom by her grandson
Andrew Waters

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The love of the Bible — God’s precious word — was her treasure…her delight … her lifeline !  In her little room  she had not 1, not 2 , but 3 Bibles lying open.  She was a snacker — a grazer of sorts.

When we were younger and the days of  “sitting for a long time at the feet of Jesus” weren’t as much of an option, she opened her Bible on the dining room table in the morning, stopping often at the well  to drink from the fountain  of God’s Word throughout the day.

She received a slow infusion of the life-giving Word of God … a steady drip to sustain her own life.

One of Mom’s Bibles
Tucked in her Bible were notes she wrote to her own mom wishing her a happy birthday in heaven and telling her how much she missed her !

Her words became intertwined with God’s words … her conversation full of Word- flavor … ending each one with:

 “Don’t ever forget …I love you very much and …

The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:

The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:

Numbers 6:24-25 (KJV)

“…Mama loves you and remember, The best — is yet — to come!”

On June 9, 2016, Mama took her last breath here on earth just one day before her 93rd birthday. Her faith is now seen as sight …her heart finally at complete peace and rest. 

So on this Mother’s Day I want to lean in one more time and say …

“Dear sweet Mama…Happy Mother’s Day in heaven!  I miss you terribly but I want you to know your life and legacy live on powerfully in all the lives you’ve touched. We picked up the torch you left behind and by God’s grace, we’ll carry it on until our time on earth is finished.   Until then, you did good, Mama!  You finished well.  I’m so proud of you! I love you very much and  I’ll see you on the other side when we’re all finally home.”

{This was adapted from an earlier post from 2012, Celebrating My Mom on Her 89th Birthday. }

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14 thoughts on “A Tribute to Mama — A Life Well Lived

  1. To a beautiful woman carrying on her mom’s legacy. I only hope I can be 1/4 of the woman she was. “Well done good and faithful servant.”
    Xoxo

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    • I’m pretty sure she’s watching …and maybe still praying :-). Thank you Beth. You’ve been so encouraging through this. You’re picking up your own torch as well, my friend. Love you.

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  2. So sweet, Joy. Your stories of your mama inspire me. I aspire to be more like her! It’s an amazing testimony to her life….through your eyes, she is a role model for me of how to be a more Godly mother. I pray her influence leaves the sweet aroma of Jesus and a life well lived on my family’s future generations. Happy Mother’s Day to you, sweet friend!

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    • It is such a grace to see her life touch others who never even met her. Thank you Julie. Your words mean so much to me. It’s so encouraging to know that in life …and in death …your life has impact and in Christ, we never really die. We’ll pray for God to use us both for our generation and the generations to come. Call or e-mail to Let me know how you guys are doing!! Love you Julieann.

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  3. You have to know… This was one of the most touching tributes of anyone’s parent I have ever read. I’m thankful that I knew your mother, if only from a far, but I feel like she was far closer than that through your beautiful words. Admittedly, I cried throughout your post, and thank God for the multitude of lives her prayer ministry has touched, not to mention her example of marriage love and parental love. Thank you for sharing this, Joyful. This is one for the books!

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    • Scott… don’t make me cry 😉. Thank you so much. Your words are so meaningful to me. Her life seems to continue to make an impact. So thankful to be a part of that bigger work of God. As she often said, “God is gracious. “

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    • I know you loved her so much, Phyllis. Thank you for your kindness and love to her over the years. Your visits were encouraging to her. She loved you bunches, as she would say. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Love you.

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