Birds in the Bathroom

It's a sure sign of Spring, but we may never notice it. In our mad rush to start each day and get where we're going, the sound escapes us, drowned out by whatever ambient noise plays background to our routine. I would miss it myself were it not for my ever-present reminder - a China painting, framed and hanging beside my bathroom mirror. It is the handiwork of Mrs. Marguerite Reeves, a tall, thin, stately, silver-haired lady from Texas. We called her Mom, all 180 of us residing in Eaton Hall at William Jewell College. I was one of Mom's resident assistants for two and half years at Jewell.

What a great lady she was, kind and gentle, never losing her temper or even raising her voice, yet she commanded respect. It was impossible to be rude to Mom without a lingering sense of embarrassment or shame. Drunken frat boys sobered up. Rowdy football players towed the line. Metal heads turned down the music. No one wanted to disappoint Mom.

Homesick boys found a friend at her door. Struggling students regained their confidence in her company. She listened far more than she spoke, but her words always carried the freight and got us back on track.

I started preaching in a little country church during my junior year and Mom was a big fan. Even though I didn't behave much like a pastor those days, she saw something hopeful in me. She once explained to a friend of mine, "Drew is a good boy, a little earthy, but a good boy."

Each semester Mom would pick a Sunday and require all of her resident assistants to get up, put on a suit, and make the one hour trip with her to Nettleton to hear me preach. Most of the guys went along because they didn't want to disappoint Mom, and they knew a wonderful Sunday dinner would be served after church. It still makes me smile to remember the guys crowded into our little pews, bleary-eyed, sometimes hungover, but Mom had all of her boys in church.

Once all of her assistants took Mom to dinner for her birthday. There were nine of us, all bigger than me, including blacks, whites, Latinos, and Asians. When we sang in the restaurant, "Happy birthday, dear Mom," several people stared at her in open-mouthed disbelief. Mom just smiled and nodded.  

When Suzanne and I got married after college, Mom painted this piece of china as a wedding gift. She told me about when her husband died and how she struggled to work through her grief and find her way forward. In those dark days a friend gave her a plaque with those same words, "My, ain't them birds hollern' purty this morning." She said just seeing those words each day helped her move on and find encouragement for each day. 

So, for thirty-seven years I have been reminded each morning to stop and listen and find hope for the day. My second mother continues to bless and encourage me all these years down the road. I bet it would work for you, too. Scribble those words on a sticky note in the corner of your mirror and see what happens. You might just have a better day, maybe even a better life.


Steve Hemphill said…
What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful lady! She made at least two of those because I have one from her above my kitchen sink. You were more earthy back then but, I think your wife rounded off the edges.

Popular Posts