We called her “Rocky”
My mom passed away Monday. I’ve been thinking about her life’s accomplishments and how to contextualize some of them. She was an incredible leader. She was a renowned speaker and author. She was musically gifted. She could manage and administrate at the highest levels. She had a love for adventure and traveled the world.
She also broke down many of the barriers that had kept women excluded from leadership roles within the church. She saw those barriers as an especially odd reality in her own church organization, which was founded by a woman.
My kids affectionately called her Rocky. Mom loved this nickname because it identified a tenacity in her that characterized so much of what she did.
Her last journal entry
Not long after my dad’s death in 2013, we noticed that something wasn’t right with mom. She was diagnosed with dementia. This began a difficult process of watching “Rocky” go from an incredibly capable person, to needing assistance at basic levels.
While cleaning out her room, we found a journal she had begun after losing dad. Page after page records simple routines and outings. She also shares the deep pain of missing her husband of 57 years. On September 21, 2013 mom wrote…
Each day seems empty without Coleman. Lord, please hold my hand on this strange journey. I have always known what do for You, now I’m not sure.
Every entry, until her last on May 31, 2015, echoes this same frustration of missing her husband and not knowing what she was to do. While I lamented the toll dementia took on my mom, the Lord helped me see something.
Even though my mom had been very independent, she was always under the covering of my dad’s authority. There are many beautiful stories of women who went on to new levels of living after their husbands die. Not Rocky. When her husband died, she lost her strength. Peter puts it this way…
This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They put their trust in God and accepted the authority of their husbands. (1 Peter 3:5, NLT)
This isn’t just the secret to beauty, but also strength. I hope the next generations of “Rocky’s” help other woman understand this. It will make them more beautiful and stronger in all their life’s accomplishments.