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Mother’s Day brings mix of emotions for Matie

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Mother’s love: Matie Crockwell, left, with her late daughter, Kim Hendrickson (Photograph supplied)

For Matie Crockwell Mother’s Day has always been somewhat emotional, a reminder of loss and the faith that has carried her through it.

She was 9 years old when her mother, Cecily, passed unexpectedly, in 1948.

“I felt like my world had come to a close,” she said. “I can’t really put that feeling into words. I didn’t know what was going to happen to me without a mother.

“She was a godly Christian woman. She was my protector.”

That early experience of loss deeply impacted Ms Crockwell and her siblings, who were raised by their father, Edgar Crockwell, and foster mother, Dorothy Todd.

“Your world changes when you lose your mama. It was difficult to understand death at that age, but what we did understand was that she was gone.”

A few months after her mother’s passing, Ms Crockwell was given a poetry assignment for homework. She reluctantly wrote about her mother.

“I have no idea why I chose to write about losing my mother, but I did and I won first prize for it and it was published in a collection.”

Matie Crockwell with her children, from left, Cecil, Kim, Deborah and Tammy (Photograph supplied)

The poem was also the first time she had written about her faith. Over the years since, poetry became a therapeutic outlet for Ms Crockwell, and a way of sharing the goodness of God.

“I found that poems were very therapeutic for me because I go through the process of what God means to me and how God has blessed me, even in the midst of grief or trial. All of my poems go to God’s love and what heaven will be like.”

Ms Crockwell became known for her poetry writing and people started to request them for special occasions, such as birthdays, baby showers and anniversaries. She also continued to write poems of reflection for loved ones lost.

It became a ministry of sorts, although she never intended for it to be.

“I can write about any topic. The thoughts are inspired by God and they just come to me. Sometimes in the middle of the night.”

She has likely written over 100 poems, many of which are kept in binders at her home for her to reflect on and share with family and friends.

Since losing her mother as a child, she has lost many others, including her father, six of her siblings and three daughters. But she believes it was her mother’s foundation of faith that ultimately carried her through them all.

In 1958, Ms Crockwell gave birth to twin girls who died just days later.

“I lost twin daughters, my eldest children, when I was just 19 – ten years after losing my mum. During that time, I wasn’t really allowed to grieve. I didn’t know where they were buried, and I never had an opportunity for closure.

“It wasn’t until I was well in my thirties, through counselling, that I finally came to terms with this loss. But before counselling, it was my faith that carried me through."

Ms Crockwell went on to have four more children – Tammy, Deborah, Kim and Cecil – all of whom gave her the opportunity to fully experience motherhood.

But in February 2021 she had to again face loss as Kim lost a battle with cancer. A nurse by profession, Ms Crockwell, cared for her daughter at various stages throughout her illness.

“God gave me the opportunity to care for Kim in her final days. I didn’t want her to go, but I said to God, ‘If you have to put her to sleep, please don’t let her suffer.’

“When that day did come, although it hurt me deeply, I believe that God answered my prayer. I hold on to the fact that I will see her again. And I only know that because God’s word says it and my faith in God’s word does not diminish.”

Although steadfast in her belief, Ms Crockwell admits that it can be challenging to trust God in hard times.

“It’s not an easy thing. Life can be very hard. Even outside of death, there are things that happen along life’s journey that test your faith to the limit. But when faith is tested it is also proven,” she said.

“So now, after everything I have been through, you couldn’t get me to change my attitude towards God. Through all of my trials and mistakes, God was with me. The relationship that I have developed with Him through the hardships is what has kept me and strengthened me.”

As Mother’s Day looms, Ms Crockwell reflects on her journey.

“Mother’s Day is full of mixed feelings. It’s been 75 years since my mum died, 65 years since losing my twin girls, and just two years since losing my daughter Kim. But I am so grateful for my children, Tammy, Deborah and Cecil, and grandchildren who continue to love and care for me.

“There is always a hint of sadness, but I use it as a reminder of what God has carried me through and how He has been faithful to me through all these losses. I believe that God is real, and His word says that He will never leave me or forsake me. He is called ‘The Comforter’ and I’ve held Him to those promises and He has kept them.”

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Published May 13, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated May 13, 2023 at 7:40 am)

Mother’s Day brings mix of emotions for Matie

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