Chocolate Pie, a Wedding Ring, and Comic Books: a Tribute to My Mom

img_2726The following is adapted from a short message I gave at my mom’s funeral this past weekend. Due to cancer, she faced a difficult course over the last several years, but she ran her race and finished well. She will be missed.

There are a lot of things I could talk about in relation to my mom, but I’ll briefly mention just three: chocolate pie, a wedding ring, and comic books. Hopefully it will make sense as we move along.

So the first is chocolate pie. My mom was a very good cook. And one of the things she was especially good at was pie crusts.

In fact, I’m not sure I can remember one of her pie crusts that ever turned out poorly. So my mom made a lot of pies over the years, and she nearly always made them for holiday dinners.

And as you might imagine, at Thanksgiving, she made pumpkin pie. But, for me at least, that was a problem. Because I’m evidently one of the few people in America that doesn’t like pumpkin pie. But my mom knew this.

And so she would go through the extra time and effort to make a chocolate pie as well. Because she also knew that I really liked her chocolate pie.

(Now it turns out that many people who liked pumpkin pie also liked the chocolate pie, so I had to get to it before all the selfish people did—but that’s another story.)

It’s a relatively small thing, making the chocolate pie. But it’s very indicative of my mom, of the fact that my mom was thinking of someone else, rather than just herself. And it’s the kind of thing that my mom did all the time. And very often it was demonstrated in the kitchen. In addition to the chocolate pie, there was my all-time favorite strawberry-rhubarb pie. She’d also get up to make us pancakes and French toast and blueberry scones and breakfast sandwiches, when I’m sure it would’ve been easier for her if we had cereal. And then there were the Kentucky biscuits and, of course, the chocolate chip cookies that are still the gold standard for me. And she did all that because she knew we liked them.

But it wasn’t just cooking. She faithfully did all that laundry. And she’d take us to school every day, and pick us up. She’d make sure we were at practices, and she’d come watch our games—even when, I’m sure, those games weren’t always so fun to watch. If we forgot something at school, she’d bring it over during her lunch hour. And if we were interested in something, then she tended to be interested in it, too.

These kinds of things are the evidence that kept piling up day after day to prove that my mom loved well. Not just with emotions, but with actions. She gave me a wonderful picture of someone who consistently looked outward to think of others before herself. I wish I was more like her. But her example helps encourage me in the right direction. And because of it, all my life I’ve been impressed by and drawn to people like her. I’m convinced that’s a big reason why I was attracted to my wife—who is the same way. And for that alone I’m hugely indebted to my mom.

So chocolate pie is the first thing. A wedding ring—her wedding ring—is the second.

I was visiting my mom just a few days before she died, and I noticed she still had on her wedding ring, despite the fact that her hand had swelled up considerably.

But I’ve since thought of how appropriate it was that she still had that ring on her finger. Because her ring points to the fifty years that my mom and dad were married.

And no doubt my dad could speak to their relationship far better than I can in many respects. But I just want to mention one important way that it made an impact on me.

The simple fact is that my parents’ marriage gave me a rock solid foundation. Our home was a stable, secure place. Not perfect, mind you. The Tiemeyers are dysfunctional just like everyone else. But I never had to worry about my parents love for and commitment to one another. Nor did I ever have to worry about their love for and commitment to me.

And as I’ve gotten older, I realize more and more what a blessing it was to grow up in that environment. God certainly gives grace for—and even through—whatever family situation we find ourselves in. But in my case at least, he certainly poured out his grace through my mom’s marriage to my dad.

Chocolate pie, a wedding ring, and now the final thing: comic books.

I’ve loved comic books for as long as I can remember. In fact, I can trace that love all the way back to when I was very young, when I would regularly ask my mom to read them to me. And she dutifully did. In fact, she maintained that was how she found out I could read—because she would sometimes skip parts for the sake of time when it was late, and I would make her go back and read the whole thing.

But my mom didn’t just read me comic books. She also read me other stories, including Bible stories.

Now the two have more in common than you might think. After all, in the grand story of the Bible, you certainly have the dynamic of good versus evil. You have people who need help, who need to be rescued. And you have a great hero—complete with a secret identity (born in a humble manger, son of carpenter, etc.) who turns out to have incredible power.

And like it happens so often in the comic books, it looks as if the hero will be defeated by his foes. But it’s that moment that turns into his greatest triumph.

But for all their similarities, there is one big difference between comic books and this story. The biblical story happens to be true.

My mom embraced that truth. She tried to live in light of it. And she helped teach it to me.

And what I owe her for that is incalculable. Because that story, that true story of who Jesus is and what he’s done now offers me the sure hope that my mom’s death is not the final chapter. It’s the story that offered her that same hope through all the difficulties of the last several years.

Because this story has the greatest of all happy endings, one where every tear is wiped away, where there is no more death or mourning or crying or pain, where all things will be made new.

In fact, the end of the story turns out to be a beginning. It turns out to be, as her fellow Irishman C. S. Lewis once put it, “chapter one” of a story “which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the first.”

6 Comments

  1. Emily Pilkington said:

    This is beautiful, Nathan. So thankful for your mom’s legacy and your willingness to share it with a broader audience. These stories have recharged and refocused my vision of motherhood this morning. Though I’ve never met her, you can count me among the many she impacted even through a simple blog post.

  2. Todd Scotts said:

    Nicely done Nathan. A fitting tribute from a son who learned the lessons his mother taught him very well.

  3. Diana Waldschlager said:

    Wonderful Nathan! I think I would have liked your mom very much as I can see what a wonderful son your parents raised. You have a beautiful family of little Tiemeyers to now follow the chocolate pie, comics and wedding rings in their lives!

  4. Nancy Beaman said:

    Thank you for this beautiful insightful piece. I too lost my father this past July and was overwhelmed by how many people introduced themselves to me and preceded to tell me what a mentor my father was to them. I always knew he was a giving man to his family, friends and community but the insight to how much personal attention he gave every individual was overwhelming!! In our busy lives we forget about the the little things that do mean so much more. I’m truly going to make a bigger effort on the small things to honor the wonderful memory of my father. Much sympathy to your family with the loss of your mother.

  5. Deb said:

    Beautiful tribute! She was a blessed woman of love, courage and integrity. Thanks for sharing a little about your Mom so that we might have a glimpse of what a beautiful woman God created! My best to you and your family. Will remember you in our prayers during this time of loss…but rejoicing in her eternal life!

  6. Karis Briscoe said:

    I agree whole heartedly with Emily. Thank you for sharing, Nathan. What a wonderful tribute.

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