She was built for one thing; family. It was the source of her joy, her boundless energy and her religious faith. Every decision she made was both informed and determined by its impact and its relationship to us, Dad, Chris and me, pretty much in that order. And for such a simple—even simplistic—equation, it served her well.
Mary B was a tree climbing, golfing, softball hitting, football throwing tom boy, well suited to raising boys, especially in the country. Food and the meals prepared with it came where possible from the garden or the farm; prepared 3 meals a day for us virtually every day, and for Dad after we were gone, for over 60 years. By the way, that’s approximately 65,520 meals.
They took us all over the country on wonderful vacations, read to us and encouraged us to read as well, and her dedication to Holy Writ took her all the way through the Bible I don’t know how many times over the years—but I could tell you if I went to the little scraps of paper in that white Bible that chronicled the passages read every day of her life. Mom was a stickler for detail. Dishes cleaned up and put away before she left the kitchen, laundry folded and put away as soon as it was dry, and every mess we made cleaned up at once—by us if should could catch us in time. I’m not kidding, the woman was a machine.
Mom wasn’t much for getting help from the outside, unless from her own mother; beans and tomatoes got cleaned and canned just as quickly as possible once they made it to the kitchen, most typically by her alone, again unless Grandmother came from Gwynneville to help.
Ok, so much for the antecdotes. Mom was the epitome of devotion, to task and to love of family. Truthfully she didn’t use up much of all that outside of us and the extended mob scene that has always been us. It was a flaw that came between Dad and her on occasion, as his outgoing and “never met a stranger” mentality just didn’t work for her. It was probably the only source of disagreement between them—well that and cigarettes. But that’s another story.
She taught us the Bible, made sure we knew the Lord’s Prayer and other important and familiar passages, and once we were up and out of the nest, she taught our children the same thing. And along with all that came the inculcation of her deep and abiding love for the Savior whose life and teachings, the promises of whom were woven into every page.
It befell me to fail her—them—too often, but a feature of her faith was a forgiving heart and a wellspring of hopeful optimism when things went south. Now I know that one can be hard to get for those who remember how common it was her to use the word “dread” to describe her fear of everything from water and mosquitoes to hail and snow. But I can assure you that where the failings of those she loved were in play, forgiveness and hope for a better day was always her driving force.
She bandaged every cut, salved every hurt, whether of feelings or body; her voice was soft and tender, her touch the essence of perfect love. In the gathering darkness of summer’s evenings, lights out and tucked in bed, she could sing a hymn or a children’s song wonderfully. And if we were lucky, I still remember that she’d finish with one I think she made up, tender little tune called “That Little Boy of Mine.”
God broke the mold with Mary Blanche Poer; one of a kind. Funny, terse, blunt and at times immediately caustic, but at the same time the very essence of Christian family focus and love. Almost 94 years, my friends, and even when so sick at the end she held on to the life she had given to in such abundance to us. I thank our Heavenly Father for the gift of mom, and every day I remember her, that soft voice, that quick laugh, and the very essence of her—Mom.