I realize that I haven’t posted at the blogs in a while. And for that, I’m extremely sorry. As a student, I’ve just recently started a new semester in seminary; this means that the work load has increased, deadlines are in place, and I am running like a chicken with its head cut off once more.
But today, I wanted to pay tribute to someone very special and extremely dear to me, a person who has been an indispensable part of my life since the day I first entered the world---my mother, Teressa A. Richardson. One year ago today, February 3, 2009, my mother died from brain cancer at the relatively young age of 52 years old. And today, I want to set aside the usual routine here at the blog to honor the woman who made me everything I am. You, my readership, will benefit from this blog because of the woman who not only gave me life, but influenced who I've become. In many ways, this blog is as much my mother's voice as it is my own.
Teressa A. Richardson was born Teressa A. Alston to parents Anthony and Annette Alston on June 28, 1956, the oldest of what would soon be a son and two daughters. Mom graduated Valedictorian in her 1974 high school class and enrolled as a student at Duke University in the fall of 1974. She went on to graduate from Duke University in 1978 with a dual Batchelor of Arts Degree in Accounting and Economics.
Mom soon married after college, to her best friend and high school sweetheart, James A. Richardson, on December 15, 1979. To this union, two children, a set of twins, were born: Danielle and Deidre (me) on August 21, 1984. After 12 years of marriage, mom and dad separated in 1991. They did not divorce until October 1993. Mom received full custody of her children and continued to work full-time, teach our Sunday school class, and raise us as any devoted parent would.
After working in a few jobs here and there in her 20s, mom found her place in the working world at a place formerly known as Consolidated Diesel Company, owned by Cummins, Inc., where she worked as the senior accountant for 21 years. She was dearly loved by her coworkers.
Not only did mom serve her community and her family, but also her church. She joined the family church, where her father has been a deacon for over 40 years, at an early age. She started singing in the church choir early, and went on to teach the youth Sunday school class (where my sister and I were) as well as serve as the financial secretary, a position that required upkeep of the church financial records. In addition to these positions, she went on to teach the Adult Sunday School class in her pastor’s stead. She served in these positions until her death on February 3, 2009.
In January 2006, mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. The cancer would then metastasize to her lungs (lung cancer) and then, finally, to brain cancer in February 2007. I was a student at seminary at the time. In August 2008, mom would enter into retirement from Consolidated Diesel, having put in 21 years of work. After six months of hospital visits due to bodily infections, mom would face more infections in the days to come.
In January 2009, while I resumed classes at Southeastern Seminary for the Spring semester, mom continued to decline in health. I saw her three days before she died. The weekend before the Tuesday of her death, I got to spend some time with her, just the two of us alone. Then and there I got to tell her just how proud of her I was and just how much of a role model and example she had been to me and my sister Danielle. The cancer had progressed until mom could not even open her mouth to talk.
That Sunday afternoon, upon coming home from teaching Sunday school and performing the music for worship service, I was left alone with mom to say some things before I left. The Lord told me then that my mother was leaving me. He had told me earlier that weekend when me and the family sat around and saw her sleeping all day, with the only noises coming from the respirator in the hospital bed. But Sunday was the day to seal it all: for me, mom was leaving...and I had to accept that she was parting from me. It was at this time that I laid over her and prayed for the Lord to receive her into His embrace. I knew she was saved, loved the Lord, and had served Him faithfully. And now, He would take her home to the place He had promised and prepared for her (and for all who love Him).
That following Monday evening, February 2, 2009, my sister Danielle called me around 5pm or so to tell me that the hospice nurse noted that mom was soon to die. The nurse told us that mom would not make it through the rest of the week...but that prognosis declined within five hours. The next pronouncement from the nurse was that mom would not make it through the night. She would die before nightfall.
I was at Southeastern surrounded by neighbors and a special friend, Eunice, who spent the night with me once it was certain that mom would die through the night. At 2:07am on Tuesday morning, February 3, 2009, my mother breathed her last here and embraced the arms of our Savior, as He took her home to live with Him forever.
If there’s one thing my mother taught me on this earth, it was that our lives are not about us, but the glory of God. Each day is a gift that we are given by a gracious God; but we are not promised a new day. Should God grant it, then He has been gracious to us (we did not deserve it); but if He does not, then that, we too, must also accept.
I was extremely graced by God to have such a wonderful woman to call my mother for 24 years. And because of the godly example she modeled before me, my life is forever changed. An old saying goes, “Life is not about what you get here; it’s about what you leave behind.” If that’s true, then my mother left a fortune unparalleled when she stepped foot into glory.
Lord, thank you for my mother, who blessed my life in so many ways. Thank you for how you watched over us, and blessed us through all our hardships. Thank you for the laughter, the love, the hugs, the tears, and even the misunderstandings. Thank you for allowing me to live and love and enjoy good days with mom. Thank you for all the support you graced her to give her children, even when she was hurting after such an unexpected divorce. And thank you that, even after the divorce, she found purpose and meaning again in you, as well as the ministry of parenthood to her children, and service to her church.
Mom, thanks for all the many things you taught me---how life is only worthwhile when we put God first in everything we do. Thank you for all the sacrifices you made to make life comfortable for me and Danielle. Thanks for all the little lessons you instilled into us, the stories you told us over and over again, the arguments, the laughter, the jokes, the surprises, the joys, and even the discipline. Thanks for giving your all so that we could benefit. Because of your labor before God, we have been given so much. Thanks for the prayers you sent up for us, even when we were doing crazy things and needed to be disciplined. Thanks for the times when you would be there to hug us when life disappointed us.
Mom, there are so many things I could say about you---but if I tried to name them all, many I would forget. But I want you to know that you are my hero. And this post is for you.