Sunday, May 11, 2008

Speaking of Moms . . .

This is the only picture I have of mine. (In case you're wondering, I'm the baby.)
Unfortunately, I have no memory of her. She died when I was three.
This is the story as best as I remember the telling. We pulled into a gas station. (Everything was full service then.) The attendant lit a cigarette and the fumes caught fire. He then pulled back with the nozzle in his hand spewing gas into the open window and the inside of the truck went up in flames with all five of us in it. My father, while his legs were on fire, pulled each of us out. Unfortunately, on my mother's side of the truck, the broken door was tied shut with a rope. She couldn't get out and thus had severe smoke inhalation. From what I understand, she could have survived but the doctor (or nurse) gave her the wrong medicine or dose or something. She died in the hospital.
As for the rest of us, we all had 2nd and 3rd degree burns, with my dad and sister getting the worst of it. Long hospital stays and multiple skin graphs. In fact, my earliest memory is of a nurse holding me down in a tub while I'm screaming in pain. My scars are still visible - the burn-distorted outline of my 3 yr old hands can still be easily seen.
Now please understand, I'm not trying to bring anyone down on Mother's Day. My dad did a great job filling both roles and, well, let's be honest - I turned out fantastic. :)
What I am trying to convey is the fact that life can change at any moment. Sometimes tomorrow doesn't bring a chance to make up for today. Sometimes tomorrow doesn't even come.
Contentment can be an elusive virtue. It's easy for us to focus so much on our "small" problems that we fail to see the bigger picture. But the same is true for our "big" problems. Sure, I could have turned into a bitter person - full of resentment and mad at God for letting such a terrible thing happen. But what good would that do? Instead, I became a Christian. And since I am a Christian, I believe my mom is still alive. And what would she want me to do? Live my life wallowing in despair? Or, live my life to the fullest - happy and content? The answer is obvious.
No, I didn't blame God or get mad at Him. For my hope resides in God, who so loved me that He gave His only begotten Son. You see, even God suffered the loss of a family member. Before He conquered death, Jesus died on the cross. I truly believe that when we do pass from this world to the next, the scope of eternity will make all of our problems in this life, this twinkling of an eye, seem unimportant. Even my mother's death.


Kay said...

What a tragic story. What a sad thing for all of you.

You have a great perspective. God is sovereign and God is good. Even when it doesn't make sense.

I hope the rest of your family has dealt with it as well as you have.

Nicole said...

You look a lot like your mom.

Your dad must be a very special man. Good for him.

Mark H. said...

Amen. Thanks for posting.

donna fleisher said...

Wowsers. And like Mark said - Amen. : )

Momstheword said...

I clicked on your blog from Loopdeloops (my daughter). In 2000my husband's sister and her husband were burned badly in a propane explosion. G. lived exactly one month on a burn unit and L. lived for five months. They were both very faithful Christians and were on their way to a church meeting in the mountains when their camper exploded. I struggled a lot with the question, "Why would God allow something that awful to happen to such good people?" The only thing I can say is that their pastor (a wonderful man) got the opportunity to witness to and counsel L,'s children who were basically all going their own way. Some were totally alienated from each other but they pulled together during that time and are friends again, mostly. Thank you so much for your testimony. May God bless you for your attitude. P.S. I love your art. It's amazing.

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

Thanks for the comments everyone.

Nicole, one amazing thing about my dad was that I never heard him complain about it once in my entire life.

Thanks for the comment, Momstheword. It's a tough issue. (understatement of the year) Sometimes I wonder if God is thinking. "Geez, why do ya'll make something as flammable as gasoline and then drive around on top of a tank of it?"

We do a lot of things that we shouldn't do. For instance, someone may jump out of an airplane, the chute fails to open, and we all wonder why God didn't intervene or How could God let that happen?. Not the same thing as your inlaw's tragedy, I know.

It also still doesn't apply to most things. Like children suffering from disease and famine. Mostly, I guess it's the cost of freewill.

Even God has to suffer from the freewill choice of many not to accept Him. Not to mention our choice to keep disobeying Him.

And thanks for your kind words about my art.

Janet Rubin said...

Hey Dayle. We've talked about this before. You lost your mom and I lost my dad, when we were both too young to remember. Both is pretty horrific ways too. My dad shot himself in the head, unable to deal with his bipolar condition. My pastor said something interesting on Sunday. He always takes time to acknowledge what a hard day Mother's Day is for so many people. When he spoke about loss (ie. a mom losing a child, a child losing a mom, etc.) he said, "there is no such thing as closure; there is healing, but you will carry that thing with you all of your life." In other words, you don't just "get over it." It's a part of who you are. Does the absense of a mom or dad affect you? Absolutely. I can see it in my life. But finally, at 36, I'm feeling peaceful about it, starting to really believe that God IS my father and that He can handle the hole in my heart and can heal whatever pain is buried there. Is dad in heaven? Don't know. Hope so. God is just and good and merciful. Everything He does is good.

Your mom? Lovely. I can't wait to meet her:)

Father's Day is always a little funky for me too.

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

Thanks for sharing that, Janet.

Todd said...

As I read I was struck by how extremely blessed I am to have known seven of my eight great-grandparents, all four of my grandparents, and to still have my pawpaw and both of my parents. In addition to that, all of my children are alive and well, likewise my brother, and all of my closest friends through the years. It pains me to admit it, but I have taken this for granted and not fully appreciated how rare of a gift this is.

I fear that I am not alone in my foolishness.

God help us to treasure each moment we are granted with those that we love. We should not live in fear, but we should live with the understanding that life is fragile and that tomorrow is not guaranteed. It's a corny, sappy, cliché thought I know, but somehow as I read your stories and thoughts the reality of it struck me full force.

Thank you for the reminder.

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

I'm on the other end, Todd.

When I heard that John McCain's mom was still alive that just floored me.

Three of my grandparents were dead by the time I was 10. The last one died when I was a teenager.

And my dad died in '03. So at 34, all of my ancestors were gone.