Our Matriarch

In Living by Liz11 Comments

When my mother died a wise friend told me that there was a significance to the father of a family, and to the eldest son, but that there’s a very special significance to the oldest female. The matriarch. He said that when my mum died that this passed onto me, and that he saw me step into that role by the strength and confidence I held myself with at my mothers memorial. I’ve struggled with this. As soon as I heard the news of Debbie’s passing I hoped and prayed for new mother figures to enter my life. I got the opposite. Instead I watched as the other mothers I did have leave my life, and new feelings began to consume me. The desire to still have a strong family unit committed to living the crazy, eccentric life we set out to live. To protect my little sisters, encouraging them and helping them grow by trying to be to them a piece of the mother we lost. To fuel all the dreams I talked to my mum about doing whatever they may be. And finally, to not let Debbie’s death hold me back or plant the idea that pro-actively living your ideal life and traveling is “too dangerous”, as this would mean that she died in vain.

But does this mean that I am the matriarch? To me, grieving is not about strength and it’s not a competition. It’s not about how well you can hold yourself in public or how fast you can move on, just to then in private (sometimes years later) break down with a rage of emotion just as intense as the day you found out the news. It’s hard for me to think of taking up the title of matriarch when even if I one day have a new little family of my own, that position will always belong to my mother. I will always talk to her, and remember the memories we had together, trying to think of the words she would say to encourage me to keep going. I will always have dreams and nightmares about her living, dying, and then finally I will wake up and need to convince myself of this implausible truth that she is no longer alive. She will always be the biggest inspiration in my life, and the person I love the most. She will always be the Matriarch in my mind.

So how about this; the Matriarch is not a title passed onto one person alone but to a community of people. The alternative life my mother created and set an example of, her contagious laughter and joy for life’s vast possibilities, her permission that you can follow your dreams and bring others along for the ride. These are just some of the things that so many of us who had the privilege to meet my mum will let shine in our lives. We lost the leader and goddess of our global, nomadic tribe, but she stays alive through us.


  1. Thanks for writing Liz. Was just walking round and round Maggie today, struggling with my own grief. Glad for the fresh wind from your heart. Love to the whole clan!!

  2. Your mother was a great inspiration to me.
    My young husband died a few years prior to your mum. We were living the radical global life of faith, to see others get free.
    We followed the model of your parents and strived for open tables (Friday night pizza night) and open borders. When you guys surrendered to the road, I still remember yr mum saying “anything after their storage chest gets left behind”. I always wanted to get as light as your family lived.
    One of my most cherished inspirations was a photo of yr mums kitchen when you guys still lived in the house. It was with her and you. She helped me want to learn to cook and be more resourceful.
    After my husband died I felt overexposed and I retreated. The body of Christ never checked on me again and I became invisible. My life is hidden in Christ and the call to the lost has gone covert and underground. I lived a BIG life and felt vulnerable and overexposed after the death. The silence has been a gift. I’ve become hidden and I’ve reformatted in the process of grief.

    You will live a different life because everything has changed. It will be the life God has for you now. Go deeper. Build on the one on one-you and him. Thank you to yr dad and mum for their sacrifice. It helped form out people like us. Thank you for the incredible example you lived as a family. It influenced me in endless and redemptive ways. The wind of the spirit is shifting, may you know his voice in the transition.

    Much love

    1. I love what you say about becoming invisible!
      We (my wife and I) have been unhooking, from what we call the Constantinian construct, for about 7 to 8 years now.

  3. Beautiful Elizabeth, I can just imagine you and each of your brother and sisters as a marvelous patchwork quilt your Mother and Father made and knitted together. Your Father the backing , solid cloth, and each one of you bright, colorfly swatches of traits, lessons and expressions of your Mum. A Quilt, that brings comfort, joy , encouragement and bright , intense colors into others lives….a Living Quilt ♡♡

  4. Love you bunches and thanks for sharing your heart. I couldn’t hold the matriarch title alone either. I like to think I share it. Grief…a loss like this one is everywhere you go. Some days we stand taller in the memories and honoring…others we wonder how we can even open our eyes let alone move.

    Thank goodness for tribe and village to walk with us during such times. Many peaceful blessings to you..

  5. Truth, no one can replace the matriarch, it is way too much for one person to carry… it must be a comunal endeavor. Yet, one day you will have your own family and then you will be their matriarch. Thank you for sharing these beautiful thoughts

  6. Wow, Elizabeth. This is beautiful, truthful, deep – like you.
    Thank you.

  7. This is really beautifully stated. Thank you for your words. She is in the hearts of so many.

  8. Love you Jones. You are often in my prayers. Thanks for sharing your heart. 💜

  9. She has left a glistening trail wherever she travelled. When you sew a life with sparkling thread it is there forever. Bless you guys.

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