Thanks Mom!

Mother’s Day is upon us. Sadly, this is a holiday I too easily forget. I have a hard enough time remembering my mother’s birthday. It shouldn’t be that difficult for me, as her birthday is the same day as my wedding anniversary, and I definitely don’t forget that day. My mom was pretty happy when my wife-to-be and I decided to get married on her birthday. It was one of her favorite birthday presents ever. I was getting up there in age, 28, and my mom was turning 60; she was grateful to God that all her kids, at last, were finally all married. Thanks for your patience and your prayers Mom! I thought I’d aim to honor my mom today by sharing briefly from one particular year in my childhood that stands out: the year our family headed south, way south, to the land Down Under.

When I was eight years old, our family had the privilege of living in Australia for a year. My father, who was a faithful pastor, was given a sabbatical to write a book. It was a working sabbatical. My parents served for a year as dorm parents with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Darwin, Australia. Darwin is a coastal city in the Northern Territory, on the Timor Sea, just south of Indonesia. For an 8 year old boy, it was a lush, tropical paradise, with warm nights alive with all sorts of creature noises, and flash floods that turned our front yard into a water park extravaganza. The bugs were huge, the birds were colorful as the rainbow, and the fruit bats who lived in the banana groves behind our house were the size of house cats.

I was the only boy in the Hamilton family, with 3 sisters. Our family lived in a big house on the Wycliffe compound, with three other kids whose parents lived and served amongst the Aborigines in the Australian Outback. So in total, my mom had 7 kids to care for, not including the gads of neighborhood kids who would often make our home their home. I vividly remember one evening during dinner, when we got a knock on the door. Another missionary kid from the compound, my sister’s probably remember her name, came by with a gift, held by the tail. She and an Aboriginal friend of hers had killed a blue-tongue lizard and were offering it to us, as if we might add it to our dinner fare that evening. My mother was ever so gracious to these young girls, as blue-tongue lizard blood slowly dripped onto her dining room floor. My southern California mom navigated these wild Outback adventures with grace and joyful flexibility. Thanks Mom! Thanks especially for never making me eat that blue-tongue lizard.

But there was one thing that she made me eat, at least on April 1st. All us kids, all 7 of us, went to Marara Christian School. It was a short bike ride down a red dirt country road from our house to school. But when the flash floods would come, we would try our darndest to keep those starchy school uniforms clean as we peddled through puddle after puddle of red muddy water. Every morning, my Mom would make lunches for the 7 of us. The American kids liked our Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches. The Aussie kids like their Vegemite sandwiches. We both disdained the others. On April 1st, aka April Fool’s Day, my mother faithfully rose early, made everyone’s lunches, fed us a tasty breakfast of cereal from the fridge (we couldn’t keep boxes of cereal in the cupboard or you’d open your box of cereal and instead of Cheerios pouring out, you’d get a bowl full of 1-2 inch cockroaches), and shuffled us out the door in time for school.

When lunch arrived, I was always excited to enjoy whatever goodness my mom had made. The relational capital of trust in our home was deep and wide. So with full confidence, trusting my mom, I began to devour that delicious PBJ sandwich. As you’ve guessed already, to my disdain, it wasn’t PBJ at all. It was Vegemite. Yuck!!! I spit that tar-infested, salt-ridden bite out and threw the sandwich away, never thinking I might be able to swap it with my Aussie brothers and sisters. The bitter soy saucey flavor lingered for what felt like hours. I went hungry that day. The hilarious thing, is that I trusted and loved my mom so much, I simply assumed this was some accidental mess up, reminding me that nobody’s perfect, not even my awesome mom. I couldn’t imagine that my dear sweet mom had intentionally sent me out the door with a kiss, “Have a great day at school!” and a sinister Vegemite sandwich in my lunchbox, just waiting to strike.

That year Down Under was filled with fond memories and adventures. Thanks Mom for following Dad to the deep South, and instantly going from a mother of 4 to a mother of 7. Your heart has always been full of grace and welcome, and for that I am forever grateful. I hope you have felt loved and celebrated this Mother’s Day. I am humbled and honored that God in his kind providence saw fit to make you my mother. I love you Mom. Always, your son.

One thought on “Thanks Mom!

  1. Oh my goodness! What delightful memories! Dad laughed so hard reading it out loud to me — especially the “tar-infested” vegemite sandwich. Thanx for a VERY special Mother’s Day gift. I love your logs.🥰


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