My most beautiful mother: Myra Edith Barton (I love and miss you so much!)
I'm writing to you from my home community, Kincolith, in Northwestern BC. I left Vancouver on Tuesday, May 28th to attend a memorial and funeral in a small community called "Skeena Crossing," a fifteen hour drive north of Vancouver just outside of Terrace. Since I was so close to home, a further four hour drive north and it had been a while since I had been up this way, I decided to come home for a couple of weeks. It's so gorgeous here: we're nestled so beautifully immediately below the Alaska Pan Handle and surrounded by mountains, rivers, and nothing but forests. It's so amazingly beautiful! For me, this is where all life began; this is where I was born. This is where my teaching, singing, and praying at the table with my mother and father began. The early 5:00 am starts that dad would have to his day in stoking the fire in the old wood stove- bringing back to life the ambers left burning from the night. He would add more wood to increase the heat in the house before he woke up all his children. I always seemed to awaken the same time as him. I am the youngest. I'd wake to the sounds of dad milling around in the down stairs area preparing the house for the awakening of his children to face together another day. Once the wood stove would be burning semi-furiously again and giving off a lot of heat- he would further prepare for his most important ritual of the day. I'd remove the vent from our upper bedroom floor, peek through the hole...and there dad would be as always: at the little table, right next to the living room window, with the cool-oil lamp lit and his hands folded across his bible- getting ready to pray. At this point I always made my way downstairs. If dad was already in prayer- I'd sit quietly next to the wood stove, warming: listening to him; watching him. Most times he would sense me and call me over. We'd say a prayer together as we held each others hand warmly on top the pages of his open bible. He then would say, "Go and get your mother, we'll read to you and you can sing with her." These were some of the happiest, most precious moments of my life. They'd fully feed my most curious mind and young soul. I could not get enough of the bible nor enough of the prayers which seemed to be bathed in such a tremendous peace.
As we sang, and mom sang with a voice of such incredible beauty, she'd say, tapping me on the belly, "Bring it up from here son, bring it up from here. Really feel it." Back in the day the Christ Church Choir used to number one hundred or more members- and my mother was one of the key singers. She sang with so much passion and beauty that the village often requested that she sing solo. She was always put at the front. My aunties always so proudly shared these stories with me and told me again and again how beautifully mom sang. The people loved her. "Bring it up from here son, bring it up from here...really feel it." I was so proud and wanted to match her beauty because she just seemed to care so much. I was happy to sing for her; to sing with her. One lady asked me recently, pertaining to my CD, "How do you get all that emotion into your voice?" I said, "My mother. She sang with a voice of such incredible beauty and she taught me to sing. I do it for her...in honor of her. When I sing, I can feel her presence. I see myself again kneeling at her bedside or at the table as we'd sing, pray, and read for what was hours but seemed like minutes. These were the greatest times of my life."
Recently I was asked to participate in a "Multicultural Mother's Day Tribute." I accepted. I sang as a duet with myself to the title track of my CD, "Your Presence," in honor of my mother. I then read the poem I wrote especially for her. It was one of the most passionate, most powerful performances that I've ever given as it was the first real tribute I'd ever done in honor of my mother since her passing forty-four years ago. The response was phenomenal and the people incredibly moved and inspired. It was the greatest challenge to keep myself from crying as I sang- as I could clearly see, feel, and hear my mother: "Bring it up from here son, bring it up from here. Really feel it." I took all that energy, passion, and emotion and turned it into one of the greatest performances I'd ever given...for you mom: "Happy Mother's Day! Love your son, Godwin" (May 12th, 2013).
No longer sorrow and grief, but an inspiration and a song
many years have gone by, since you've been gone.
The days turned to weeks and the months into years
washing away of pain by drying of the tears.
It seems like just yesterday when by your bedside I would sing
as you encouraged me toward God's love, to be my all and everything.
Though in my childhood I'd have seemed too young to understand
yet I had faith enough, that still God would hold my hand.
God's power, love, and eternal Grace divine
was the message you imparted as this song we sang.
It seemed so in preparation for what was to come
for in a short time I knew not, that your time would be done.
So since by death's door yet into life you've parted
no longer aching, anguishing, sick or broken hearted.
In the years though I've missed you deep down inside
my love for you, for my Lord, I can no longer hide.
In the newness of this life found amidst great pain
reminded further of God's love, by a brother, returned from a plane.
God's Love and Mercy would shine as a heavenly light
my brother, not ready yet, to take his heavenly flight.
Though in our lives dear mother you've been absent from us
Mother, we love you, and by faith no longer fuss.
For we've been promised by God's most reassuring word
that soon we'll be together, for our prayers He has heard.
So mother please forgive me for my anguish over the years
in my love for you, I seemed to cry unending tears.
Now that I've grown in the years gone past
I look forward to seeing you, together, forever at last.
I remember you in your beauty, your life and your love
as your presence envelopes me from heaven above.
If heaven's as beautiful as you are serene
then the love of my savior, I've more than felt, I've seen.
So to you who now are my inspiration and song
soon we too, from this old earth, soon will be gone.
For by death into life or that great trumpet sound
mother, we your children, will be homeward bound.
In memory of our loving mother: Myra Edith Barton