Early on Sunday morning, Mother's Day, as I think of my own mom, words to the old hymn OTHERS come to mind: Lord, help me live from day to day in such a self forgetful way, that even when I kneel to pray, my prayer shall be for others.
Friends, relatives and family members of Mary Tjapkes were never forgotten, especially at times for birthdays or special need. There were hand-written notes, greeting cards and even baked goods. At the time of her funeral, we heard from people we had never met who at one time or another had been touched by my mother's kndness.
And so it was only natural that she had a love for prisoners. After all, Jesus demanded it.
She established a relationship with a prisoner by mail that lasted for some time. Naturally he was grateful for her kindness and generosity, and he reciprocated as best he could. Even back then, she told me of terrible conditions in the Michigan prison system, and the shameful manner in which prisoners were treated. But then came the major heart-break of getting emotionally involved with the least of these. One day, the letters stopped. After a period of time, Mom decided to get to the bottom of the story. She called the facility, only to be bluntly informed that the inmate had died. No details, no nothing. She said the man had no family, so she had no idea what happened after his death. She could find out nothing about his passing. She knew he had been frightened, so perhaps he lost his life in a violent manner. She never found out.
Maybe my mother's concern for and interest in prisoners started me on this journey. It certainly helped.
I pay tribute today to a very special mom, and grandmother, and great grandmother.
She touched many people.
Come to think of it, she still is.