Note:  On August 5, 1965, Malcolm Marler’s mother (41) died suddenly.  You can read more about that here.

Dear Mama,

Martha Lou Marler in her early 20's.

Martha Lou Marler in her early 20’s.

It is hard to believe that 48 years ago today you took your last breath on this earth when I was 10 years old.  You would be 89 if you had lived this late in life.  I want to give you an update on how things are going, but most of all to say thank you.  This will be the first of several letters because there’s just so much to cover. All of this comes from unspeakable gratitude for what you gave me in ten short years.

I want to focus on three themes today:  love, faith, and how to connect with others.

First, thank you for the way you loved me unconditionally.

As a psychology major in college, I  learned how important it was/is for a child to experience love early in one’s life.  I already knew this intuitively from my life experience.  The love you gave me was planted deep within and your death could not take it away.  Holding and hugging me close to your breast repeatedly throughout my first decade of life planted a seed in my soul that has grown over the years.  You taught me how to hug full bodied with both arms, and how to forgive others by the way you forgave me.

You held my face in your hands and told me how much you loved me.  I believed your encouraging words when you said, “you can be anything in the world you want to be.”  Your son is still dreaming new dreams at 58 years old.  Thank you.

Second, thank you for talking about your faith with me, but most of all thank you for living it.  I heard your prayers, but I also saw your love for people regardless of skin color or one’s socioeconomic status in the early 60’s in Alabama.  I noticed how you listened to others going through difficult times.  I remember how you loved to write, how you were creative in everything you did, and how your belief in a loving God was the foundation for your life.  Thank you for showing me what a loving God is like through the way you parented me.  All these years later, I believe in a loving God who will never leave me, and One who will sustain me through any difficult times in my life.

Finally, thank you for the way you showed me how to connect with others.  I saw this in the way you loved my Daddy.  I noticed the way you looked at and loved my father with that spark in your eye.  I remember the times I caught the two of you hugging one another in the kitchen, or saying kind and loving words to the other in front of me.  And thank you for the way you related to the family of God from the youngest children to senior adults with your natural warmth, gentle humor, and humility.  I’ve tried to learn that from you.

I wish you could have known and connected with my wife, Mary Bea Sullivan.  Oh my, the two of you would have loved each other’s company so much!

I know that you audited every course with my Dad in seminary because you desired deeply to have the same  theological education, but couldn’t get academic credit for your hard work due to women not being treated equally.  I want you to know that Mary Bea is finishing her Master of Divinity degree this year to become a pastor.  I know you would celebrate that accomplishment with her as if it was your own.

Most of all, I want you to know that I am married to the love of my life and I have two amazing, loving children who are now 21 and 22 years old headed towards careers in the helping professions.  I am a Chaplain in a hospital in a job that I love where I get to help people when they are going through hard times and believe that this is where God has called me to be.

I am the happiest I have ever been in my life.

I’ll write more later, I love you,

Malcolm