They lived in the same era. They even lived in the same town for part of their lives. And their husbands worked in the same place. They each raised children whom they loved and took great delight in their grandchildren as well. They loved God, their families, and the churches to which they belonged.
Neither of them rose to a position of great power or prominence – but within their own spheres of influence they were faithful. Both of them had a keen interest in missions – one of them prayed for missionaries, supported missionaries and often invited them to her home so she could hear their stories; the other opened her home to missionaries’ children and cared for them while their parents were overseas.
One of them was outgoing and vivacious: her laughter filled a room and was infectious to all who heard it; the other was quieter, never wishing to impose, not wanting to intrude, but nonetheless held her own strong opinions and convictions. One loved to dress in bright reds and purples; the other preferred more muted pastels. They both liked to drink tea out of china cups. One loved daffodils; the other preferred carnations.
One was gifted with words and on several occasions produced poems which she had written about different family members, always giving them a laugh because of their honesty and humour; the other was more gifted in cooking and hospitality – she loved to fill her house with people whom she fed with all sorts of homemade delights.
Both of them belonged to the denomination known as Plymouth Brethren; so neither of them held public roles in the church. But both of them used the gifts God had given them to serve others, both at home and in the church.
Neither of them looked for applause or affirmation; both of them hated having attention drawn to themselves. They got on with their lives and found contentment in their roles as wives, mothers and grandmothers.
They showed their love for those closest to them by worrying about them. ‘Have you put on weight?’ ‘Have you lost weight?’ ‘Ring me to let me know you’re home.’ It took me a long time to realise that but as I have become a mother myself it has been easier to accept that perhaps worry is a mother’s love language.
I shall forever be grateful for these two women – one of whom was my mother and one of whom was my mother-in-law. One brought me into this world and I had the unforgettable privilege of sitting at her bedside on 31 January as she passed out of this world. The other brought my husband into this world and now I have had the same privilege of joining the family by her bedside this week during the last stages of her journey.
Two women called Betty. Two mothers. How fitting that I was writing this on Mothers’ Day. I’m thankful for both of these women – two mothers who just got on with the business of mothering.
‘Their children rise up and call them blessed’ Proverbs 31:28.