THE TENTH DAY OF MAY IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN
Sybil Belle Short Fudge Dewhirst — or “Mother,” as my five siblings and I are privileged to call her — always was up to most any challenge. Perhaps it had something to do with her beginnings; born in 1923 to missionary parents in the interior of Africa, raised in general isolation 50 miles in the bush from “modern civilization,” as a child going to sleep at night with lions roaring outside the family’s house and sometimes a venomous black mamba snake inside.
How does one begin to describe this woman, whose life–one day after another–has been guided by strong faith, sustained by quiet strength, and driven by great courage. Along the way, during more than 33,000 days so far, she has outlived two husbands, three siblings, and two grandchildren, raised six children and loved two step-children besides, managed a business, croqueted baby blankets and afghans, painted, traveled the world, written 600 pages of memoirs, and taught the Bible. But her most powerful teaching has been seen and not heard. Her quiet devotion, gentle spirit, and kind service mark her as a woman who walks with God.
When Mother completed her autobiography,* she recalled an observation by Edith Wharton that “one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ones.” Looking back over (then) eighty-seven years “of many joys and some sorrows, of many changes and many challenges,” she summarized it all like this: “God has been faithful, my life is rich in memories, friends and family, and my heart embraces the future in hope and joyful anticipation.” Thank God for you, Mother. I love you and hope to be like you when I grow up.
Fourscore Years and Counting: My Life in Seven Chapters, by Sybil Belle Short Fudge Dewhirst, available in printed book and in electronic form, from www.amazon.com/Sybil