Of Mothers and Muchness

Mom & Dad Heim

If there was ever a Mother’s Day baby worth celebrating, it would be my mother-in-law, Elizabeth Louise. Bette Lou, as she was affectionately referred to by family and friends, was a May 8th baby, who grew up to become a mother of twelve. Like our daughters, she grew up in a sisters-only family; she was the youngest of four.

Mom Heim Bundle

I married #10 of 12 — and over the course of our marriage, I found great joy and, more often, solace in letters I exchanged with my mother-in-law. In a world caught up in email, Twitter, and Facebook posts, it was incredibly lovely to get to know her in this way. For although I enjoy technology, when it comes to sharing, real sharing, I have always preferred handwritten letters to the reality bites garnered from hastily typed emails, tweets, and comments.


She mothered me through the Word and written words. Growing up as an only child {of divorced parents} and raised by my father, my development in mothering skills was self-taught. How beautifully Bette rounded me out. Who better to turn to for advice on feeling “out of the loop” when it came to our teenage daughters than the mother of seven girls? Who better to ask about how to keep peace between siblings, as well as with us, as they grew into adulthood than the mother of twelve children?  Who better to inquire as to how to balance the sharing of special days and holidays, when sons-in-law were welcomed into the family, than the mother of five sons and the mother-in-law to seven young men? And who better to ask how to best grandmother twelve grandchildren than the grandmother of over thirty and the great-grandmother to more?


The Mad Hatter: “You’re not the same as you were. Before You were much more…’muchier.’ You’ve lost your ‘muchness.’”

 Alice: My “muchness”?

 The Mad Hatter: [Points to Alice’s heart] “In there.”

My mother-in-law never lost her “muchness,” and she helped me along the way to begin recovering mine. In 1974, she wrote a poem, THE GARDENER, identifying each of her children as a flower. I am married to her Golden Poppy. She went to meet Our Lord on September 9, 2008, and her namesake, Bette Lou, our granddaughter {#11} blossomed into her garden two days later on September 11, 2008.

July 8 2012 028


God has placed me in charge of a beautiful garden. I was once a barren field, until love entered and transformed it into fertile soil.

As the first seed of love was planted, God breathed life into it and there sprang forth a soft, pink rose.

The second flower to appear was a brilliant tulip. So pleased was God with the beauty of this garden that within a year’s time, He sent a tall and graceful gladiola to enhance its loveliness.

With each succeeding year, new life and radiant color appeared in the garden…sunny daisies, generous mums, hearty sunflowers.

To permeate the air with its spicy fragrance, there appeared the red carnation. In the shade of the garden, the delicate violet shyly unfolded its velvet softness. It was soon followed by a burst of colorful stock.

Bright golden poppies then came to life in the garden. Entwining itself among the other flowers, the bougainvillea brought new warmth and color.

Last to appear, among the border of the garden, was the fragrant hyacinth.

Each season brings forth new growth and beauty as passers-by pause to admire the uniqueness of this plentiful garden.

Many years have passed since God gave me the tools to tend this garden. Many of the original plants have already matured and have sent out shoots of new life. Each year reveals new growth from mature plants.

I stand in awe and pride at the glory of this garden. And I rejoice with great humility that God has trusted me to care for it.

~ Bette Heim, 1974

 On March 17, 2013, my father-in-law went to join his beloved gardener. Now they tend their garden from a loftier place and those of us left behind reap the sweetness of their work.

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” ~ Proverbs 31:28


  1. How very sweet and tender. I’m sure the “Master Gardener” is happy that you continue to tend her garden and call it your own. Happy Mother’s Day, dear friend.

  2. I am so blessed and happy to be in your circle of friends for life regardless of how often we actually get together! This said, I am in awe every time I read “Seasons of Grace & Wisdom”, because your words draw me in and fill me up with pride to know you because you are very gifted in writing! Your mother-in-law is indeed very blessed in her home in heaven but also to have the many gifts and talents she infused to the friends & family she left behind. I love the poem a little more every time I hear it or read it, and I know she is smiling as she watches the garden grow! Just Beautiful ❤

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