You can do some amazing things in your lifetime if you live to be ninety years old—and my mother, Virginia “Jinny” Davis, has. Two days ago we celebrated her ninetieth birthday with a gala party with her family, friends and neighbors. I wouldn’t be an author if it weren’t for my mom. Nor would I likely be a Christian. She has had a powerful influence on my love of books and on my faith in Christ.
Among my first memories are of Mom reading bedtime stories to my two sisters, Bonnie and Peggy, and me. Books always filled our home. Trips to the library—even if it meant walking a mile or more—were routine. Mom’s love of books began when she discovered the public library as a girl during the Great Depression. It’s probably not an exaggeration to say she read every novel in her town’s tiny library. The sympathetic librarian even let her borrow books from her personal collection.
Although a career as a librarian would have been her first choice, Mom never could have afforded a higher education after high school if it’s weren’t for WWII. She won a scholarship to become a registered nurse and became the first woman in her family to have a professional career. But her love of books never dwindled, and when the library in our small New York State town needed a librarian, she applied for the job. It’s also not much of an exaggeration to say that I grew up in that library, doing everything from processing books and working at the checkout desk, to shelving books and reading to the children for story hour. Within a few years, Mom transformed that library from a dark, dismal place that was open only a few hours a week, into the town’s thriving centerpiece with activities for people of all ages. The local elementary school decided to hire her as their librarian, too. I’m so proud of all that she accomplished.
Throughout my growing-up years, I also remember Mom sitting at her typewriter and writing short stories and poems and magazine articles. She wrote a regular column in a local newspaper for a time. I remember celebrating with her when one of her stories was accepted by Highlights for Children. She is still writing stories to this day. Mom showed me that if there’s something you want to do—like write a story—then why not sit down and do it? I attribute my own love of books and my talent for writing to her.
Even more important to Mom than books, though, was her faith in God. She experienced His presence during a church service as a teenager and her faith has continued to grow stronger and deeper ever since. She made sure that my sisters and I regularly attended Sunday school and church, and she modeled a life of prayer, regular Bible study, and loving God and our neighbor. She has experienced hard times and losses over the years—a stillborn baby, a life-threatening illness, my dad’s early death at age 62, my sister Bonnie’s tragic death from cancer nine years ago. But Mom’s faith in a loving God has never wavered. At age ninety she is a prayer warrior, rising early every day to pray for my sister and me and our spouses, her twelve grandchildren and their spouses, and her sixteen great-grandchildren, including three adopted ones, and those yet to be born. I feel her prayers holding me up when I travel and speak and when I sit down at my computer to write.
So Happy Birthday Mom! You continue to be a role model and an inspiration to me, and to your 30 descendants, and to everyone you meet.