I Remember Mom



     It was Saturday evening, December 5th, 1994 when I called my mother, Bernice Fortner on the telephone.  She was so happy, she was getting ready to have dinner at her brother, Jackie's house.  They had a tradition of getting together any time one of the five brothers or sisters had a birthday.  I had been so busy, that it had a long time since I had called her.  She had just sent me some family information for our family tree and I just wanted to talk to her.  We talked as she was putting on her “make-up” and fixed her hair.  As a child I remember watching her powder her face with a big powder puff.  I teased her about me making her late, but she seemed to enjoy our short talk.  Soon we said goodby and I told her that I would call soon.  That night she was with her family, visiting and having a good time.

     Sunday evening I received word that my mother and her friend, had been killed by a drunk driver.  They were on their way to church.  It was hard to take at first, all I knew was that I had to fly home to California to be with my family.  Mother was a special person to everyone she met.  She was not rich, but she was willing to do anything she could for you.

     She was a teenager, when a friend invited her to church.  None of her family was saved.  Her father worked in the oil fields, and had to move often, they had to live in shacks or sometimes in the work sheds near the oil rig.  When her parents saw how God had touched their little girl, they too were changed.  Others in her family soon were saved and everywhere they went they were involved in the local church.  If there was no church in the area they moved to, they started one.  If there was no preacher, they preached.  One little girl did change her world, her family and everyone around her.

     On the greatest day of her life, she was honored at her church for being faithful to God and to the Church.  The pastor had her come forward and told the people how long she had worked for the church, behind the scenes.  The Set Free Prison Ministry of Chino was going to her church and a bus load of former drug addicts and ex prisoners asked "Grandma" to eat lunch with them that day.  Although she had a meager income, she was giving a large portion every month to help support this ministry.  It seems funny that at this time, all I can think about is how she affected the lives of others. 

     I can tell you that she was happy.  She had all her presents under the Christmas tree, ready for her children and grandchildren.

Christmas was her favorite holiday.  Our family knows she had hard times, but you could never see it in her life.  That day, I know she met Jesus!  I think He wanted to honor her by bringing her home.