When we traveled to Pittsburgh in May for my mother’s funeral, we also attended services at her church: The Primitive Methodist Church of Carnegie, PA. It’s a tiny church with a small but lively congregation. It was Mother’s Day, and the praises offered by the members of the congregation and echoed by the minister in his sermon, were mostly in memory of the women in that church, and how they collectively raised us.
The list included all of my Sunday School teachers, as well as my mom and my grandmother. In fact, several times during the sermon, it occurred to me that that church was home to the few life experiences I have in common with my mother.
She grew up during the Depression, my brother and I grew up in relatively comfortable, albeit chaotic times. She ended her education after high school, but helped put both her children through college. She never lived more than a dozen or so miles from the town that church is in. I moved coast-to-coast twice and settled 500 miles away from Pittsburgh. I could fill this blog with the differences in our life.
On the other hand. We both grew up in that church. We both sang with gusto, if not ability, all the verses of all those hymns, even the ones we didn’t like – I’m looking at you “The Old Rugged Cross.” We both stood in that small room and accepted Jesus Christ as our personal savior, as we became Junior Members at age 13. My hand was probably raised a bit more timidly than hers had been 30 years earlier, but it was raised.
A few miles west of the PM Church is St. George Orthodox Church, the church my other grandmother literally helped build. I didn’t spend a lot of Sundays in that church, but I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. She was a woman of faith like none other I’ve ever met. While she probably wished my father had taken us to his church more often, she frequently told me that she was glad my mother took us to church. My aunts (on both sides) regularly reinforced the importance of a strong faith in God, and what that meant with respect to your actions here on earth.
These women taught us right from wrong. They taught us by rote and they taught us by example. They set us on a path that ran between boundaries we would not cross in our lifetime. No shortcuts. No diversions, and remarkably, for all those women, no turning back.
All of those women are gone. None of them were saints, but they all carried their faith through their final days. Hopefully, that will be one more thing that I share with them.
This post is part of the Cherished Blogfest. The blogfest is hosted by Damyanti Biswas, Dan Antion, Cheryl Pennington, Peter Nena, Sharukh Bamboat, Mary Giese, and Kate Powell, Paul Ruddock, it is open to anyone who wants to tell the world about something or someone they cherish. If you want to join us, click here. The blogfest is open until Midnight Sunday.