For all of this apparent tragedy in her life, and truly it all only set the stage for my
mother’s soul growth in this experience, what I remember most about my mom is her courage, her compassion and her ever-present service through her Words of Encouragement project that she carried on for the last nearly forty years that she was on this earth. She would collect inspirational writings, sometimes writing her own, and send them to her list of people “in bereavement”. She would volunteer at some local church that would allow her to print copies for mailings. People inspired by her faith would donate envelopes and postage so she could continue mailing Words of Encouragement to people she learned about who were dealing with some kind of difficulty or loss in their life. After she died, we found she had maintained a carefully hand-written log of all the people she sent mailings to over the years. This was her form of “selfless service” and I’m certain that it was her service to others that kept her in the world when it would have been so easy for her to just give up finally.
I learned from my mother that we can pull ourselves out of our depression and self-absorption by turning our gaze outward and giving service in one way or another, how ever it is we can find a way to serve our brother. Even though it appears we have no material worth and nothing at all to give, on some level my mom understood the value and importance of giving encouragement to one another. She faced enormous loss, criticism and complete lack of support throughout her life but, time and time again, she found the courage to rise above, call to Holy Spirit for help, and carry on ... giving whatever she could give, whether it was a place to sleep on her couch for a homeless person, finding a market for handmade crafts created by women in prison, or even if all she could give was a Word of Encouragement.
This is in tribute to my mom, Anne Pauline Theresa Labus King Coker,
February 11, 1928 to April 4, 2002