Legacy

Mary Ann “Wilkerson” Coppinger

Remembering Mom

In just a few days, it will be a year since my precious mom went to be with Jesus – September 7, 2011. I’ve been thinking and writing about her so bear with me while I take some time to share many of the rambling thoughts and memories in my heart.  I want to pay tribute to how extra special she was. Thanks for taking a few moments to read this and remember with me a wonderful lady.

Her Presence

I never fully understood this “feeling” of loss before mom.  Even losing my grandparents didn’t have this affect on me.  There’s a tangible “presence” that I can feel – or maybe it’s the lack of presence – that emptiness that I sense when the places she once occupied are now quiet and empty. I walk in her room, even though it’s been cleaned out of her personal things (well most of them anyway), and she’s there.  When I walk in her kitchen mental pictures of her cooking bombard my mind and she’s there.  I walk in the family room and have vivid memories of her in that special place where she read her bible and prayed early every morning and she’s there.

Maybe I can feel her presence because I’m part of her DNA.  After all I am here because of her; I can do so many things because they passed down through her to me, thank God on that point.  During this past year – and it’s been “a year” – a lot has happened and mom has been with me in all of it – the struggles, tears, laughter and yes, joy.  I’ve carried her with me and envision her with arms raised cheering me on from heaven through it all.

I know its God that is the source and the reason for our connection.  It’s His blood and breath running through our lives and we’ll be forever connected.  I hear her voice in my head, her laughter even more so because when she could no longer communicate she could laugh, and such a sweet sound that was.  I see myself “doing” things like she did and all of is a reminder to me that…she’s there.

Her Cooking

When I open her recipe box or preparing one of her recipes, precious thoughts come to me of her rustling through those hand written cards, looking for that one special recipe to create in her talented way.  I can see her making a lemon meringue pie just special for dad (one of his favorites), or her famous “Chocolate Goodie,” or something else that was especially for Sunday dinner.

Saturday’s were her baking days since she was a “working” woman.  She would spend part of those days whipping up some delicious thing to serve to her guests, whoever they may have been.   Sunday’s were extra special in our household – the excitement of whoever was coming over for dinner, and most importantly, the roast mom was cooking up for dinner.  The smell alone was worth the entire experience and every time I cook a roast, she’s there.

Her Hands

It’s funny the things that come to mind…mom’s hands are one of them.  She had such dainty, seemingly fragile hands, yet they had such strength.  She could type like the wind, cook up a storm, swat me when needed (not that I needed it much, mind you), and they could clap and be raised to the Lord in praise.

Her fingers were so tiny that neither Karen nor I can wear her wedding rings.  She wrote to her mom, “…my rings will have 3 diamonds in the engagement ring and 4 in the wedding band–a total of God’s perfect 7.  We wanted it that way.”

She always kept her nails just “so” and dad continued the tradition so they always looked nice.  This is one thing I didn’t inherit from her…oh well.  When she finally wouldn’t cooperate with the nail lady, I had the privilege of keeping them as pretty as I could.  In fact, I felt strongly to make them “pretty” in the care home and it ended up being the day before she left us.

Her Humor

I find myself remembering mom’s quirky sense of humor.  She had the best time laughing at herself too, and her humor was all through her letters…  Here are just a couple of examples:

November 1960 — “Speaking of elections, I’m simply crushed.   This is the first year I placed my vote to elect a President AND THEY SIMPLY IGNORED IT!  Probably didn’t even count it.  Oh me, Oh my!  I wonder if Washington knows about this?”

This one made me feel better about my own trial and error in the baking area…

December 1960 — “I experimented earlier on a pumpkin pie.  With grim determination and bad humor (I sprang a leak in my rubber gloves) I proceeded to produce a pie.  After spreading flour from ceiling to the floor, using up half a roll of paper towels keeping my hands clear of Crisco and using every measuring instrument I own, I proudly slid a somewhat good-looking pumpkin pie in the oven.  Well, it wouldn’t get done and wouldn’t get done and I had half a dozen jabs in it to see when it was done and the crust was getting browner and more so… On about the 7th try my hand got to near the oven rack which was, of course, very hot and I burned my hand which made it jerk real sudden-like — just when I had the spatula in the pie and wambo, [me, wambo? HA!] I gouged the whole center out of that beautiful (well it was once) filling.  Well…I guess you’d say we ate humble pie for dinner that night, but my sweetiepie bragged it up anyway, so I’ll keep tryin’.  Someday I imagine I’ll be such an overcomer that in heaven I’ll get the job of makin’ pies!”

Makes me wonder if she is makin’ pies in heaven because she did overcome for sure!

Her Writing

This is one area that I’ll remark on the most because I found it so deeply precious and fun that we have her writings and letters to read, laugh at, and hear her “voice” in the words written.  Letters all the way back to bible college writing home about her struggles with some class, or the fact that she desperately needed some clothes, couldn’t get her brother John to give her a ride home because his “revival meetings” went longer than expected, or that a great speaker had come to the college and revival broke out in chapel.  Reading her thoughts as she describes life from her college years, to meeting dad, her marriage, babies, work, church, and family, are such wonderful treasures to have.   From them I learned who she was way before I was even a thought in her heart.

How many can read a letter written just a few days after your own birth!  Here’s what mom wrote right after having me:  “Well, what an experience – and now I have a story to tell like all the rest of the mothers in the world about my pains, my stitches and my sojourn in the hospital – ha!  But, naturally, being a Wilkerson, I had to go to extremes about everything in an all out attempt (I suppose) to make it a memorable occasion.”  Her “extreme,” I found out, was having me in 1 hour, 28 minutes! Can you say “ouch?”

Her handwriting is also priceless to me.  This past year I was looking down at a bag of mom’s books in my dad’s garage, one of many things we had gone through to give away was her many books.  The book lying on top was opened a bit and I happen to see a piece of paper laying there.  Curious, I picked it up and saw mom’s handwriting.  I was stunned because I knew God led me to find it before it was gone, but also for the message I found written there.  At the top of the page she wrote this scripture & title:

“Only Rule of Faith – Practice” ~Proverbs 4:11-13 (TLB)

“I would have you learn this great fact: that a life of doing right is the wisest life there is.  If you live that kind of life, you’ll not limp or stumble as you run.  Carry out my instructions: don’t forget them, for they will lead you to real living.”

Mom’s writings included short stories, personal poems or limericks – mostly written to family and friends.  I believe had she lived in the age of “Blogs” she would have totally been a Blogger!  Her story The Red Sock Lessons was published, but she wrote so much more than that.  Here’s a perfect example of mom’s wit AND wisdom — a little story that I discovered written within a letter to my cousin Ginger upon her wedding.

§§§

THE SPIDER 

A funny thing happened today.  I needed to get my kitchen floor cleaned before I turned on the computer to finish this epistle. I can’t sit down to do anything like reading, sewing or writing until my house is clean, the laundry is done and I’m fully dressed and in my right mind.  So, I started moving the table and chairs out of the kitchen and into the family room—to do a really good job of cleaning. 

In moving the chair out, I flipped the chair pad up on MY chair and guess what I found?   A SPIDER! In MY house!  I could tell it had been a fine specimen too (if anyone could ever say that about a spider), but by the time I discovered it, part of the remains was on the pad and another part on the chair—fully smashed and properly “lying-in-state” awaiting transfer to the garbage with great yuk and “get-this-disgusting-this-out-of-my-house” ceremony. 

PONDERINGS 

Now as I see it, this spider had found an acceptable home (ours), large enough in which to raise the future-baby spiders.  Ugh! (My thinking here) But life seemed to be going her way.  She had a bunch of eggs around (heaven knows where in our house), and was exhausted.  Here was one spider who had all her “ducks in a row!”  So, she looked around for a comfortable place to settle and enjoy thinking about all her accomplishments.  Self-satisfaction abounded.  Trouble struck!  Lethargy was imminent—it took over.   

Mrs. Spider felt all comfy and cozy as she wiggled her way to a safe retreat under the chair pad of MY chair.  Because of the lethargy, Mrs. Spider had no thought of the consequences of her decision.  “This is wonderful,” she said, “I feel so pleased with myself, I’ll just climb under this big umbrella and it will protect me.”  “Ah…life is so beautiful, just the way I want it…lethargy…what could be wrong with lethargy?”   And then she slept.   

Well, along came your unsuspecting Aunt Mary who sat her ample hips on the chair and flattened that sucker right into oblivion!  SMASH! SQUASH! BINGO!

MORAL TO THE STORY 

1.      DON’T LET THE DANGEROUS SPIRIT OF LETHARGY FIND YOU IN THE WRONG PLACE AT THE WRONG TIME!

2.      WHEN YOU’RE FEELING LOW, GET UNDER THE RIGHT UMBRELLA!

3.      GOD CAN KEEP THE “AMPLE HIPS” (BAD EXPERIENCES) OF LIFE FROM SQUASHING YOUR SPIRIT!

4.      IT’S OKAY TO ENJOY CONTENTMENT AND REST AS LONG AS YOU ARE UNDER THE RIGHT COVERING!

5.      DON’T BE A SUCKER! HA!

§§§

She closed her little “epistle” (her words) with her favorite “life” scripture, Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will guide you with my eye.”

Just one more, really.  This is a poem she wrote in December 1959 as a surprise announcement to my grandparents that they were expecting ME!

Her Legacy

Mom definitely left a legacy to us, her daughters; a legacy of her giggly personality, her musical gifting, her writing, her love of reading, her organization, her love of cooking and hospitality, her wisdom and example, but most important of all, her love & worship of the Lord and His Word, her HEART.

She lives on in us…and my prayer is that we’ll honor her memory through our lives.  That we’ll be as she wrote in her Red Sock story from 2 Timothy 2:21, a “vessel unto honor, sanctified and fit for the master’s use…”  She was, at least to me.  I can’t say that I’ve always lived up to her example; my vessel has some rather rough and cracked patches, but it’s a vessel filled with life because of her.  And by God’s grace, “…oh, the half has never yet been told.”

The last picture taken of mom ♥ at Joslyn’s wedding July 29, 2011

Couldn’t get mom to smile, but no matter…can you say Precious?! ♥

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9 thoughts on “Legacy

    • Wow Carol, the tears are flowing down my face as I remember reading her letters to our parents. You have told her story so well. Thanks for sharing. Love you all

  1. What a blessing you have so much to read to learn about your Sweet Mom, My mom is reader but not a writer so I have spent a great deal of time talking to her and reminiscing the past as far into her childhood as she can remember. I must say for being 90 years old wow what an incredible memory she has.
    Reading this was wonderful, I know how hard it is to loose those who are dear to us, but mom’s and dad’s are especially hard. I have prayed from the beginning for you and your sister that all the sadness would be replaced with intimate and joyful memories, I can see the Lord working and answering that prayer, He is so good to us.! Thank you for sharing….
    God Bless, Janice

  2. What a beautifully written tribute to your mom. I love the pictures too. You certainly have your mom’s gift of writing! I wholeheartedly believe that you and Karen are carrying on her legacy and impacting so many lives. I wish I could have tasted that lemon meringue pie of hers! Maybe she will make me one in Heaven:) Love you cuz!

  3. Thanks Carol for taking the time to share so much about your Mother with us. I was close to your Mom…we were about the same age and both discoverning men at the same time. We talked and laughed together a lot.

    Mary Ann was so gifted in every way. I remember how meticulous she was about everything. Even living in the Big House on the farm, her room was perfect and spotless in every way. Every morning she sat under the window and read her Bible and prayed before going to work. Surely her life and legacy will be multipled many times over through you and Karen and her grandchildren. I look forward to the next blog.

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