|Photo courtesy Erik Thorson 2013|
Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
"Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all."
When she heard our son Kevin was in a Canadian hospital with a broken neck, she fell weeping to the floor. She begged God to spare his life. She cared for his little sister and did the family chores while we were with Kevin, first in Canada and then in the Spokane rehab hospital.
She visited him whenever possible in the hospital. She learned with rest of us how to care for a person with a devastating spinal cord injury to give the family respite when he came back home.
It didn't matter she had only known us for three years when Kevin broke his neck. She was as devastated and devoted as if she had known us forever.
Juanita is my stepmother, and she was sent straight from God to be our new mom, grandma, sister, and friend. She married my dad after my mother died from complications of a series of strokes. She started out as "Grandma Juanita" to our children. That was too much of a mouthful for my nephew, who was just a little guy at the time. He shortened it to "Gramita," and the name stuck.
She never tried to take Mom's place. Instead, she made her own place in our hearts. She gave us space to remember Mom without displaying jealousy. She graciously accepted our family traditions and helped us create new ones incorporating her rich Mexican heritage. Because of her, I now know how to make tamales with corn husks and fry up our own taco shells with masa flour.
|"Gramita" with great-granddaughter Rebekah in 1997|
She is a loyal wife, a faithful mom to her own two children, a loving stepmother to my brother and me, an adoring grandma to her grandchildren on both sides of the family, and a generous great-grandma. She is an auntie many times over. She is tender and giving. She is one of hardest working people I have ever seen.
Since my father became pastor of the Leland Pioneer Community Church in historic Leland, Idaho, Juanita has been a tireless supporter. She serves their community beside my father and lives to tell others about the Savior who redeemed her and set her free. Her love for Jesus is both inspiring and contagious.
In honor of this week's tribute to Moms everywhere, I salute Juanita and the stepmothers like her who take on a whole new family - baggage and all - with grace and love.Yours is a difficult and often thankless job.
Every time you swallowed down a retort, listened to the same family stories all over again of the years that never included you, took flowers with your husband to his first wife's grave, put aside your holiday traditions to accommodate your new family's schedule, and generally accepted the people your husband loves, be assured we noticed. Your sacrifices have made us love you all the more.
You are appreciated and adored. Thanks for being you. May God reward you in the measure of devotion you have shown us, overflowing with blessing.
Happy Mother's Day!