If Mom were alive, she’d be cooking something special to welcome Jon home.  And Christi would be cleaning the house and doing whatever needed done.    

My brother and I were treated to many such homecoming meals.   Unlike Christi, we’d left home to seek our fortunes.  Though we soon learned life wasn’t a dream — Jon and I lost far more than we ever found.   I would have been in bankruptcy or foreclosure in 1983 were in not for my parents.  And I wasn’t unique in receiving their help.  I saw it over and over.  Like a broken record stuck in a groove, they reached out with open arms to embrace brokenness.  Helping a needy loved one was just what my parents did.  And it was always Mom leading the charge.              

Mom often said we could do whatever we set our minds to do.  She said it so often, I think we all believed her.  I know she did.  She never stopped believing in us.  No matter what wrong we’d committed, we knew we could always go home.  And we knew we’d be welcomed back with love and without judgment.

Mom had a bigger-than-life personality.  When she wasn’t around, people felt her absence.  And when she was, she went out of her way to make others feel special.  “Oh…it’s no big deal,” she’d say.  To her, ‘no big deal’ was just her everyday love expressing itself.  

Cooking was one way Mom loved others sacrificially.  She hated to cook.  But she did it– bereavement meals, birthday meals, every night supper meals, homecoming meals, those favorite desserts that were always around when we were — Jon’s banana pudding; my coconut cream pie.    

I got my prodigal gene from Mom.  I never saw this until a former pastor taught me a broader meaning for the word.  Mom was prodigal because she was ‘recklessly extravagant’ and because she gave ‘lavishly or foolishly.”  In these ways, Mom could out-prodigal my brother or me hands down…and hands out.  She’d give her money away with one hand and her love away with the other.  Both lavishly.  Both without thought of personal cost.   She died with few worldly possessions.  But remnants of Mom’s lavish love giveaways survive.  

Because even now, I am inspired to express love in a way that honors Mom’s memory.   Today its been me in the kitchen making something special for Jon’s homecoming meal.  And tomorrow, it will be me making some banana pudding. 

Mom’s love survives in Christ much more.  Even now, she prepares the house to receive guests — family gathered in Mom’s place who themselves represent bits and pieces of Mom’s love.    

Like a broken record echoing out of eternity, ancient words of a prodigal love song whisper into my ear–I’m reminded we’ve good reason to rejoice and celebrate–  “because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”