A Parker Family Mothers' Day
11 May 2008 | Foxtown, Little Abaco Island
This is another one of those postings that has little to do with sailing, and lots to do with life ... or perhaps that is a misstatement and it has a lot to do with sailing - it is all about where the wind blows us.
I had been feeling a little worried about Mothers' Day this year. My mother died in December and this would be the first Mothers Day without her. I was far away from my three children. I could not see them and perhaps could not even be in touch with them at all.
And so ... we were on our way to Moraine or to Double Breasted Cay - that could have been a neat Mothers' Day stop!! But the wind blew us to Foxtown instead. There we found Lillian Parker and her family and this is where my story really starts.
Jim and I happened into her store to get water and when we asked if Bahamians celebrate Mothers' Day the answer was "Yes." Jim's next question was "Is there a restaurant that will be open on Mothers' Day so I can take my wife out to dinner?" Lillian paused a minute, appraising us and then said, "If you would like to come to church with me on Sunday, you wouldn't have to worry about food."
It seemed pretty clear to me that I was supposed to be with her for Mothers' Day so we accepted her invitation.
Lillian has 11 living children - the youngest just turned 40. One son, Bernie, is the pastor of the Revival Ministries Church of God - a Pentecostal church - or a jumpin' church (so named because they Move). Several daughters and sons have beautiful voices and are musical leaders in the church. Lillian poked me at one point and said, "They're all mine" with great pride in her voice, and indeed, most of those in the church were her children or grands, or related in some way.
It was a Mothers' Day service - start to finish. Lillian took us right along with her and we followed her every move. We moved to the music of the praise service, and oh my, it was a praise service with music that got right into the very cells of our bodies. We reveled in the bright colours of the clothes. Lillian wore an elegant white suit and hat - an outfit that my Mum could have donned anytime. There were orange suits and green and pink and ivory ones. There were red hats and pink ones and white ones. There were city styles and rural styles, and it wasn't only the women who chose their clothes with care. The children were in their Sunday best with ribbons in their hair and some of the men's suits were bright coloured or ornately tailored. These folks dressed for church.
When the pastor prayed for those of us who had mothers not physically present with us in this world, I felt he was talking straight to me. When Daphne sang "That's what Heaven Means to Me" in memory of her mother, I struggled to keep back the tears. When Jim joined all the other males in the congregation as they gathered up front to sing a song for Mamas, I smiled from ear to ear. (Did I mention that ours were the only 2 white faces in church?) When pastor Bernie preached that the responsibility is with the mothers to produce good children, I prayed that I had done a good enough job. I know we have good children but I often think that is as much their own doing as Jim's or mine!
At the end of the service, we were interested to witness a new-to-us practice. The pastor handed out envelopes of monetary gifts to many mothers - oldest - visiting- happiest, and told others to check under their seats for envelopes. Several children (adult ones and young ones) presented their mothers with cheques and cards. Some sang songs to their mothers and spoke loving and appreciative words to them. I was delighted to receive the envelope for the "most happy, joyful mother on that day"! I guess the "Rev" as his brothers and sisters called him, could see my smile.
After the service, we went back to Lillian's house and the family kept arriving with platters of turkey and great dishes of peas'n rice and macaroni and vegetables. A platter of cake and the ginger cookies I had made as our contribution finished off the meal. It was funny to hear someone say, "Want a Canadian cookie?" as she passed the container.
We felt so welcome and so fortunate to be embraced into this family for the day. We laughed as they told stories on each other and remembered escapades of the past. We nodded in understanding as they acknowledged the gifts they had received from their mother - the value of hard work, unconditional love. It was much like a gathering of our own families - with good food and good feelings - but there were lots more of them!
We went back to the boat and toasted our family. We thought yet again how absolutely fabulous this year of cruising has turned out to be. It's about the scenery and the lifestyle. It is about the people we've met. It is perhaps most of all about trusting the winds and the sea and the spirit to take us where we need to be.