She's Got a Song in Her Heart, and She's Going to Sing It

In this excerpt from her book, Lucimarian Roberts, the mother of GMA anchor Robin Roberts, shares the role that faith plays in her life.

By Lucimarian Roberts, Mississippi

WEB EXCLUSIVE

A few years ago, I was homeless. At least that’s how I felt. It seemed that at my late age, I had no particular place to go, no place to call home. Hurricane Katrina had turned my world upside down. My home in Pass Christian was uninhabitable, and I wasn’t sure if I should sell it as-is or refurbish and renovate it. My second home in Biloxi had withstood the hurricane but had been severely damaged from water and wind. Then just a few months after Katrina had made her unwelcome arrival, I had a dreadful bout with pneumonia. For a while I lived in a rehabilitation center, wondering where I would go when I was released.

When I think back to that hard season of life, I realize I was still numb from everything that had happened in recent years. Within a short period of time, my life had unraveled through a series of tragic events that began when my son-in-law Willie Craft, Sally-Ann’s husband, was diagnosed with colon cancer and died just six months later. The next year, my husband Larry suffered a heart attack and passed away unexpectedly in his sleep. Soon after, I was diagnosed with a neurological disorder and a degenerative bone disease that had my daughter, Dorothy, ushering me to countless doctors’ offices and hospitals. In August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina blew through the Gulf Coast. Then in 2007, Robin received the devastating news that she had an aggressive form of breast cancer.  

I lived in a hazy fog during much of that period of time, waffling back and forth on almost every decision. Seeing that I was weary and worn, my grown children took charge of my life as best they could. I think we were all wondering if I should just pull up stakes and move from the Gulf Coast. But where would I go? I had already tried a couple senior living options, including an assisted living center near Robin, but nothing seemed quite right. I kept asking myself what I was supposed to be doing at this stage of life. In all honesty, I felt frazzled and totally useless.  

Even in those dark days, my faith was my source of comfort. Today I am happily back in my Pass Christian home where I play my piano and sing hymns each day. I have a home health-care aid to assist me several times each week. Physically, I have good days and bad. There are times when my joints are stiff and my words are slow, but I am reminded of an important truth. God has given me purpose that overcomes pain.           

Over the span of my long life, I have learned many lessons. To be honest, I am learning them still. Out of the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, I discovered not to prize possessions too highly. I grieved the loss of many special objects. The copper wall plaques we’d brought back from Japan. The china vase hand-painted by Larry’s aunt. Our stereo and collection of old record albums. My organ. Even now, there are times when I suddenly think about an item only to realize that it has been lost forever. I have also discovered what it’s like to lose a loved one in a heartbeat. But through every loss, I am learning to loosen my grasp on things of this world and to cling to good memories and to God instead.  I have also come to understand that having a sense of humor helps to offset the challenges of growing old.  My spirits are lifted whenever I hear laughter around the dinner table or at a family gathering. In fact, I often think that humor may be God’s best gift to those of us in late life, a salve for difficult moments.

Thinking back on all the stories of my life, there is one story that shines especially bright in my memory. My mother loved to tell it, perhaps because it captured the essence of who I am and what I believe. As I explained earlier, during the Depression my mother cooked on a wood stove in the basement because our electricity had been turned off. There was an occasion when my father was home between drinking binges, and we were seated for dinner at a makeshift table in the basement.  

Book cover -- My Story, My SongExcerpt from My Story, My Song: Mother-Daughter Reflections on Life and Faith,
© 2012 by Lucimarian Roberts, as told to Missy Buchanan, with reflections by Robin Roberts, published by The Upper Room.

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Your Comments (6)

Robin I meant to write months ago I went to my daughter's to write you when she was in NYC on a mission trip with our church and then I went to sleep and did not then She was killed August 25 and then your Mama went to Heaven too and I am just now getting to reading the whole article and finally seeing "we will understand it better by and by" your Mama was a smart lady to have raise you I saw you last week when those GMA folks were there and wanted to say I was proud you could have company.
Riobin my daughter was our church's Relay for Life for 10 or 11 years and pray I can go to next years relay and not be too lonely.
My parents have been for years and no grandparent either and now no Daughter so we must pray for each other next week and the weeks to come. Cancer is a bad enemy my parents both fought it and her other granddaddy too. We have had many friends (including you) and relatives to fight this fight some have won and some have lost.
Your Mama is right "We will understnad it better by and by"
asorry I got to be so long.

Dear Robin, you have my sympathy, passing of your Dear Mother, and every morning I listen to GMA I am thinking of you and your journey & praying for you and missing you, I want to read your mom's book very soon! may God Bless, will keep in touch.

Can't wait to get your Mother's book and read the whole thing. Her dedication and committment to The Lord is an inspiration to us all. I am praying for her and for you for healing. By his stripes we are the healed. May God Bless

THANK YOU SO MUCH ROBIN FOR SHARING YOUR MOTHER AND HER STORY WITH US. MY MOTHER PASSED SEVERAL YEARS BACK, BUT MY FATHER WENT HOME TO BE WITH HIS MAKER ONLY A COUPLE OF MONTHS BACK AT THE GRACEFUL AGE OF 98. HE FREQUENTLY SPOKE ABOUT HIS LORD AND MASTER AND HOW HAPPY IT WOULD BE FOR HIM TO ASK GOD FOR CLARIFICATIONS ON SOME SALIENT THINGS.
EVEN THOUGH I MISS HIM TERRIBLY I AM CONSOLED KNOWING THAT DAD ENJOYED DAILY FELLOWSHIP AND BASKED IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD EVERYDAY OF HIS LIFE AS LONG AS I HAVE KNOWN HIM AS DAD.
PLEASE LET YOUR MOTHER KNOW THAT SHE IS HIGHLY APPRECIATED. MAY GOD BLESS HER,YOU,AND ALL OF GOD'S CHILDREN ALL OVER THE WORLD.

Wonderful story! It made me think of my own mom who passed away in April. She was 86. I could definitly identify with Robin's reflections because towards the "end" my mom's children became somewhat like the parent, but yet we strove to preserve my mom's dignity. However, it was not the end for mom because she too knew the Lord, so as a child of God, it was a new beginning for her. I hope to one day see her again on the other side. Thanks for sharing.

This is so beautiful, especially when the parent becomes 'the child' it can become heartbreaking; however, as we're reminded, we do not become their parents, we're all God's children.