HEARTLIGHTSpecial Feature







Recent Special Features:
Important Message (Really)
"I've Found Your Patience"
Low Tech People in a High Tech World
More Special Features...
Suggested Articles:
Give Her the Praise She Deserves
Mother’s Day
by John William Smith

    In 1944 our country was engaged in a world war. I was seven. A member of our family had been killed at Pearl Harbor, so the war was very real to us. My mother read daily newspaper accounts of death tolls and of battles won and lost. It was a frightening time.

    My father worked long hours at a converted Chrysler automobile factory — now simply called The Tank Arsenal. He did not get home till very late at night. Because we lived in a rural setting, my mother was often very apprehensive during his absence and refused to go to bed until he got home. We passed the time waiting for his arrival by singing. My mother would play the piano, and she and my sister and I would sing. We sang, “Red River Valley,” “You Are My Sunshine,” and “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” We sang church songs too — “Sweet Hour of Prayer” and “When We All Get to Heaven.” My father was from Arkansas, and he had taught us some Deep South songs like, “Old Kentucky Home,” “The Camptown Races,” and “Old Black Joe.”

    One night, after singing long, I went to bed before my father came home. The song “Old Black Joe” remained on my mind.

“Gone are the days,
When my heart was young and gay.
Gone are my friends,
From the cotton field away.
Gone from the earth
To a better land I know.
I hear their gentle voices calling,
‘Old Black Joe.’
‘I’m comin’, I’m comin’,
For my head is bending low,’
I hear their gentle voices calling,
‘Old Black Joe.’”

I hear their gentle voices calling, ‘Old Black Joe.’
    I don’t know why that song made such a profound impression on me — maybe it was the war and thoughts of death — or maybe it was the uncertainty we all felt — but my child’s heart was moved. I felt so sad for Old Black Joe that I began to cry, and the more I cried, the harder I cried. My mother heard me crying and came to my room. She sat on my bed in the dark and stroked my head and held me. She asked me what was wrong, and I told her I didn’t like that song about Old Black Joe because it made me think of dead people and sad things, and I thought he must have been terribly mistreated to be so sad.

    My mother told me that there was much grief in the world — and much injustice. She said that dying wasn’t always such a bad thing — that sometimes it was better than living. She said that Old Black Joe wanted to be with his friends and that now he was — that heaven was a nice place and that God had a very special place for Old Black Joe and his friends and that they were having a good time together.

    I went to sleep so happy for Old Black Joe and loving God, who was so nice to him. I was glad that Old Black Joe was having a good life there, because he had had such a bad one here.

I really believed what my mother told me,
And I still believe it to this very day.
I trusted her completely.

    Sometimes — Mother’s Day, especially — I miss her till I ache. I miss her steadfast faith in a loving God, and I wish I could lay my head in her lap and she would stroke my head and soothe my fears. I believe that God has a special place for my mother, and that she and her friends are happy and singing with Old Black Joe and his friends.

My mother shared her faith with me.
Her faith was the foundation of my faith.

“For I am mindful of the sincere
faith within you, which first dwelt in
your grandmother Lois, and your
mother Eunice, and I am sure that it
is in you as well.”
— 2 Timothy 1:5, NASB

From the book My Mother Played the Piano, by John William Smith, Howard Publishing, 1997. Copyright Howard Publishing, used by permission.

HEARTLIGHT(R) Magazine is a ministry of loving Christians and the Westover Hills church of Christ.
Edited by Phil Ware and Paul Lee.
Copyright © 1996-97, Heartlight, Inc., 8332 Mesa Drive, Austin, TX 78759.
© 1997, Howard Publishing, used by permission.