I am often asked in interviews to speak about my mother. My mom hasn’t taken the public spotlight like other women in my family so many don’t know much about her. She wasn’t called to speak to large crowds or write books, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t made an impact on thousands, one-by-one.
If I had to describe my mom in one word, talkative, comes to mind. My mom, Jane Austin Graham, can talk to anyone. I do not think the lady has ever come across a stranger in her entire life. In fact, stranger does not exist in her vocabulary.
There were times as a little girl that I would be embarrassed by her random conversations with people in the grocery store. It was absolutely impossible to quickly run into Walmart because my mom was sure to bump into someone she knew or maybe she would even make a new friend in the aisle. I was annoyed at her talkativeness as a teenager, because many times it would make me late to wherever I had to be.
Now as a grown daughter, I have often been completely amazed at watching my mom talk. I have come to the realization that being talkative is a precious gift my mom has.
I have watched her time and time again when talking to people. In a matter of minutes she makes them feel at ease, makes them feel important, and makes them feel like she has known them for years.
People often do not know what to expect when they are going to be around a “Graham.” Some come nervous, some come with their judgments, some come in awe. Regardless, in no time at all my mom has everyone at ease. She brings a sense of normalcy to any situation just by talking. Whether she is with the President of the United States of America, or sitting with an employee and their spouse in the office cafeteria, she is the same exact person. When she talks, she is herself. She builds comfort, trust, and laughter in just a few moments of conversation.
I have often wondered how she does it. How can she talk so effortlessly to anyone she encounters? But things I have learned by watching: she is always transparent, she is always honest, she genuinely cares about the person she is talking to, and she shares a sense of humor.
I have realized mom’s talkativeness has brought balance to my dad’s ministry. Many people don’t realize that my dad is shy when it comes to one-on-one conversations, even though he ministers to people by the thousands. But I watch my mom stand by his side and minister to his staff and his local community in ways he can’t.
Mom just recently received an unexpected phone call from a former high-school student she had in class 25 years ago. The man shared with her that several years ago, when he and his wife were expecting a child, the unborn baby was diagnosed with an illness and it was suggested that the baby be aborted. The man told my mother that the first thing that came to his mind was, “Jane Graham wouldn’t approve.” And now, years later, he has a healthy grown child. For this man and his family, their entire world is different because my mom talked to him in high school and sincerely cared about his life.
There are countless stories of my mom being talkative – using her voice to witness and speak to the lives she has impacted – whether it was a short encounter or a long-lasting friendship. One day I look forward to heaven and listening to all the stories of people my mom’s life touched just by her talking to people one-by-one.
Happy Mother’s Day to my very dear mother, Jane Austin Graham. I love you. And thank you for teaching me to talk.