Grits and Purls

Spinning yarns about the grit of life

My mother lived what could be called an ordinary life. She travelled when young, then settled down with a family, involved herself in the lives of her children and friends, and enjoyed a brief retirement. Her main interests were her faith and her family. She served at church, helped at the hospital and supported causes like Alzheimer’s awareness, missions, and hospice care. She wasn’t a leader outside our home, she wasn’t loud, she could be depended on to help but she wasn’t the focus of attention and did not want to be. She was the first to volunteer to help bake for an event, do dishes, host a visitor, or clean up, she liked to laugh and she enjoyed her friends.

Her life was not characterized by great academic or professional success, she didn’t travel the world, she didn’t write any books or make any speeches. She taught children in Sunday school, visited lonely old ladies, laughed and cried with her sisters, cooked and cleaned and did laundry, and was a servant to her family. She was a normal person, sometimes she got mad, sometimes she was bored, sometimes she felt frustrated. She entertained strangers, supported my father, cleaned up after us, and usually put her own needs last.

Now that she is gone, there is little tangible evidence that my mother was ever here. There is no statue, no fortune, no heirlooms, no mansion, no memoir. There are a few old clothes and shoes, and some letters and photographs. When seen in its entirety, her life can be summed up as one of quiet service.

For the last years of her life my mother was changed irrevocably by Alzheimers’ disease. It didn’t seem fair. The body was here but the person was long gone. We only saw the outer shell wasting away, and the inner person seemed to have disappeared altogether. We saw an old lady who could not speak. We saw a deteriorated body and a devastated mind. We mourned for the person she had been long before she died. Her life seemed pitiable, and cruelly cut short.

But when her funeral came, and her friends gathered and paid their last respects to the damaged body this lady left behind, this is what they sang:

Behold the daughter of the King
All glorious is within
And with embroideries of gold her garments wrought have been.
She shall be brought with gladness great and mirth on every side
Into the palace of the King, and there she will abide.

Somehow the impact of the years of illness was minimized by these words, and I was able to see again the beauty of a quiet life lived in service to God and to others. My mother was a King’s daughter. I had lost sight of that.

What is really important in life? It is sometimes easy to lose sight of the things that matter in the rush and bustle of life and work. It can be easy for me to forget that how I live matters more than what I might achieve. I had thought that my mother lived an ordinary life, but now I am not so sure. The beauty of a consistently unselfish life, lived out in care for others is a rare gift to leave behind.

14 thoughts on “Behold the Daughter of the King

  1. Michele Arduengo says:

    Wow Isobel. This is an incredible tribute to your mom, and it is indeed rare to truly live well a life of quiet service, where the impressions that you make on the world are in the people around you whom you touch. What a great thing to be able to say that your life has made lives of others better.

  2. Terri J says:

    What a lovely tribute to your mother. “And her children shall rise up and call her blessed.” (Prov. 30:28)

    1. Thanks Terri, I think that in writing this I came to appreciate my mum even more than before.

  3. Karen Ritch says:

    Well said Isobel. What a wonderful legacy she left you.

    The last shall be first in the Kingdom of Heaven. She stored up her treasure in for eternity. If we could emulate her, the world would be a better place.

    Love you!!

  4. Angela says:

    Beautifully written. The memorial service served to celebrate her life well lived. My Father’s funeral displayed the glory he left behind, all his granchildren sang, spoke or participated. There is no greater legacy than family.

    1. Its so true that we really see the value of a persons life in the people they influenced and the regard of those they leave behind. It can be huge comfort.

  5. Catriona & Katie Jane Mackinnon says:

    What a Blesssing to have such beautiful memories of you Mom , although the winter of her life was stollen from her ,she is now eternally healed and happy.

    1. Hello Katie and Catriona,
      Thanks for your comment, I appreciate it. Nice to hear from you both!

  6. Catherine Burrows says:

    You have written a really lovely account of mum and you have captured, in words, what was very real at her funeral service. That she is now in the presence of her King.

  7. Alison Burrows says:

    I never knew my Granny because I was a baby when she started to get ill, but from what I have read she was a kind and funny person to be around. It is WONDERFUL to know that I am related to such a WONDERFUL lady.

    1. Hello Alison,
      Thanks for adding your comment! It makes me glad that I wrote this.

  8. Alan says:


    Sorry for the loss of your mom. I just got around to reading this and agree with others, this was very good and moving. Your final paragraph nailed it. Nice post.

  9. karriecox says:

    My mother passed five and a half years ago. I have often thought about all the “what if’s” and “what could have been” for my mother. Alas she too was raised in a time that women were to marry out of high school / college and raise a family and be loyal to her husband. My questions have been very similiar to yours … what mark did she leave in this world? How long will she be remembered? I know that I and my siblings, our children and our children’s children are here because of her. And I am confident that she is sitting with the almighty watching over us and waiting for us.

    You have written a beautiful tribute in honor of your mother, thank you for sharing this.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: