Mother’s Day often brings mixed emotions. I am a bit sad on this special Sunday because no matter how many Mother’s Days I celebrate, I always miss Mama. Yet, I am happy because the best part of her spirit resides within me as a mother and grandmother.

While our parents are still living, we are comforted knowing they provide a shelter for us when we need to get out of a storm. Once that security is gone, there is an emptiness which continues for most of us for the rest of our days.

Now, I am the shelter for those who occasionally need arms to surround them and provide an umbrella to shield them from the rain. Being a mother to adults is not one bit different than if they were sitting in a high chair throwing Cheerios on the floor. No one ever tells mothers when we meet our first child that we will fret over our new little one until the day when our worry ends.

It takes unworldly strength to be a mother. When God chose women to become the caretakers of children, I believe He provided us with an extraordinarily strong soul and backbone to equip us for the challenge. He also gave me a heritage filled with exceptional mothers who exemplified pure love.

My grandmother, Rose, lost her husband and a young daughter when my Dad was five years old. She not only raised my father but three other children. I know my Granny Rose grieved immensely for all those whom she loved, but she needed to quickly muster the determination to provide shelter and care for her remaining small children.

Rose relocated her family many times, working different jobs to put food on the table, yet she maintained enough strength to act as father, mother, friend and counsel for the four lives who adored her. Her children grew into exceptional, upstanding leaders who left this world a better place because of the courage of a mother named Rose.

Clementine, my great-great-grandmother, bore 14 children in the mid-1800s. She raised those children in a tiny house filled with noise, hard work and love. During the Civil War, enemy soldiers stormed her home demanding information. When she refused to answer their questions out of fear for her children she was shot, but lived to tell the story until she was 80 years old. Clementine became a legend who was known to possess the strength of a bear and the bravery of a lion.

Elizabeth lost her first child four days after giving birth to her daughter. Young, heartbroken and bedridden, she wondered why God took her baby girl. After a few years, she bore her son, John, and then me.

Mother lived until she was in her 90th year. I asked her one day who she would like to see when she first entered the pearly gates. I thought she would say it was Dad or my brother or her parents since they all preceded her in death.

After she pondered the question a few moments, her eyes met mine with an added twinkle, and she answered, “I want to see my baby!” Mama passed away a few days later.

I did not realize until that moment the anguish she had suffered because her firstborn was gone. Nor did I understand or recognize the silent grief which remained in her soul all those years.

How many women have become their children’s heroines? How many mothers have sacrificed their lives to protect their children? How many women have grieved over the death of a child or cradled an ill baby only to live on with dignity and resolve? How much love has been poured upon this earth because of mothers?

The truth is mothers lives are immeasurable. No higher assignment in our world demands such a lifelong commitment. The job is full of pitfalls, determination, continually picking up Cheerios and mending everything from socks to hearts. The tasks never end and, amazingly, most mothers never want them to.

I am thankful for Rose, who taught me no matter what grief I endure, I must provide shelter for my children. I am grateful for the legacy of Clementine, who showed me how I must have the bravery of a lion to protect my children. And, there are not enough appreciation words for Elizabeth, who told me to be thankful for the gift of my children every single day.

For all the mothers who have blessed our lives with God-given strength, comfort and wisdom, may the Lord keep you in the shelter of His loving arms, because your children found their home, enduring love and purpose in yours.

Lynn Gendusa of Roswell is the author of “It’s All Write with Me!” Essays from my heart.

She can be reached at www.lynngendusa.com.