Praying with a Pen

Mom’s Lemonade

A number of years ago, my nephew was putting together a scrapbook for my mom (his grandma) as part of a school assignment. He requested my siblings and I write letters for him to include in the collection, offering up some memories or funny stories of Mom. Below was my submission. I recently had the opportunity–sad though it was–to unearth this particular essay and read it as part of my mom’s eulogy. I hope you enjoy it. If you knew my mom, you will recognize her in this dedication. If you didn’t know my mom, you will wish you would have.

December, 2016

This was a tough assignment! I could write an entire book about my mom and her influence, her sense of humor, her love of life and her love of others. But since I only have a page or two, I will summarize this way:

My mom makes lemonade.

And not just a little bit. She makes pitchers-full, bathtubs-full, tankers-full of it. She has never stopped making it her entire life. She mixes it up and serves it up constantly, even now, when her memory is failing her. And it is my favorite thing about her.

Everyone knows the saying, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” But not everyone knows how to do it. My mom is a master at it.

When the dreary days of winter dragged on, she would offer a nickel to the first one of us kids to spot a robin in early spring.

When there weren’t “two nickels to rub together,” she would smile and produce such things as tomato bread for our supper, or two super-thin (but delicious) pizzas made from a one-crust mix. And then she would box up whatever leftovers we might have had and drive it across town to a poor widow, so she too could have some tomato bread or extra-thin-crust pizza.

Mom’s sense of humor is legendary, and has helped her cope with some tough times too. When tornado winds rocked her small car (with her inside it!) in June of 2012 and she was forced to take quick shelter at a farm off the highway, she told me she prayed that if the barn collapsed on her and she was going to meet Jesus, that she would first have time to touch up her lipstick.

She kept right on making lemonade, even through some devastating losses in her life.

When she lost babies mid-pregnancy, she never lost hope. That helped me cope when I lost a baby.

When she lost her husband and our dad in a sudden, dramatic way, she never lost faith. Her strength helped me then as well.

And most definitely, through the trials and tribulations of being a mom to the five of us, her lemonade-making skills came in very handy. Even with all our faults, and our radically different personalities, she loves each of us kids deeply and individually, much like Jesus loves us all deeply and individually. The same is true of how she loves our spouses. But I think the grandchildren get first prize on her list and in her heart. She prays for all of you daily. I hope you also learn the importance of making lemonade in this life.

Lemonade is refreshing. It is sunshine yellow. It’s the color of faith, joy, perseverance, hope. It is all those things that my mom embodies. It represents how we should approach this life that God has given us. The lemonade of joy, humor, and lightheartedness lifts her up every day of her life. And thus she lifts up those around her.

I know there are downtrodden prisoners in Lima and destitute children in Guatemala and lonely folks in the nursing home down the street who directly benefit from mom’s brand of lemonade.

But it’s the lemonade she made at home that will have a lasting effect on me personally.

Thanks for the lemonade, mom! I love you! MB

****In loving memory of Martha Ann Berheide, 9/28/32-11/28/22