I want to introduce you to a very special woman–someone whose influence upon my life continues to reverberate years after her passing …and her name was WOW!
I first met her on August 7, 1988, her 66th birthday, a few weeks after her son and I had started dating. I was understandably nervous about meeting the mother of my new boyfriend and didn’t know the proper way to address the birthday card I’d picked out to give her. Should I put her first name? Mrs.?
What do you call the mother of your new boyfriend? He told me to just write “MOM” and not to worry about it. Although that sounded way too presumptuous, I did it.
In our first moments of greeting I nervously handed her my card. Only I handed it to her upside down. She roared with laughter as she read and sang out in a loud voice, “WOW!”
I was mortified! Was she mocking me? I wanted to shrivel into a corner and hide. Then she turned to me, took me in her arms, and greeted me with such genuine acceptance and joy I was overwhelmed!
From that day on she was never Mom, but always WOW!
If she was WOW, I was wallpaper. I did everything to try to fade into the background. I tried not to be noticed—not to attract any attention.
She wore gold shoes, drove a bright red car, wore neon green and pink (often together) and had a voice to match! When going about town to do errands I spoke to no one. When out in public with her I would secretly pray she would not talk to people. I was embarrassed. She spoke to everyone, asking personal questions, giving advice, and teasing total strangers! It seemed she didn’t care how much attention she drew to herself.
She even called the newspaper when a tree blew down in her backyard just to get her picture on the front page with her new granddaughter!
I tried to be invisible when I was with her, but wherever we went people knew her. I was noticed because I was with her. It was uncomfortable.
As years went by I began to have a deep respect for her fearless approach to people and life. She had suffered many hardships in her life. Her family had lost their farm in the Great Depression. She lost two beloved sisters at young ages. Then her husband died three months after their son (my husband) was born. This event forced her to be a single working mother in the late 50’s and through the 60’s–an unusual role for a woman in those days.
She could have become bitter, sad and withdrawn, but she chose instead to enjoy life and enjoy people. She had no fear of rejection—she didn’t even understand the concept. To her it was inconceivable that people should be afraid of one another.
I was, on the other hand, bound by fear of people. And her presence in my life made it very obvious. Over time, I began to loosen up a little, but unfortunately, it wasn’t until she became terminally ill that I realized what a valuable influence she was on my life.
I spoke with her candidly one day and told her I was sorry I had been embarrassed by how outgoing she was. I admitted I was basically afraid of people to which she replied, “I know, and I could never understand that.” I told her I truly wanted to be less afraid and more like her. She seemed pleased and patted my hand…
Soon after, she went to be with the Lord—an event she looked forward to with great anticipation. And the Lord gave me the honor of being with her as she took her last breath and moved her lips as if to speak…”Wow!”
She may be gone, but the influence of her presence in my life is not. I miss her raucous laughter, her intense and sincere interest in the lives of others, and her bright and flashy personality. As time passes, I desire and pray to be more and more like her. I know it is not just my desire, but also the Lord’s desire that I be free from my restricting fears…free to boldly enjoy my life, to come out of the background, and experience the joy of connecting with people. It’s like learning to plug in a light and then not running to hide it!
I was wallpaper when I met her, yet now, on occasion, I wear a bright, bold color. And I even own five pairs of red shoes! (She would be so proud.)
Her presence in my life revealed a bondage in me and gave me a building block to a freer future. I will never be a WOW; she was the one and only WOW. But I pray I may continue to be touched and influenced by her example and may the Lord set me free, as she was free!
And may her legacy of fearless freedom also touch you and set you free! (Got your red shoes yet?)
“So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” Hebrews 13:6 (NIV)
Miss you WOW. Happy 89th birthday.
© Linda Crawford, Sunny Side Up (not scrambled), 2011. All rights reserved.