The Limitless Love of a Mother
The Limitless Love of a Mother
Emma hasn’t always been Cody’s mom, but she firmly believes God merged her and her now husband’s family and orchestrated her to become Cody’s “Momma.” Emma and Irvin attended college together but went on to marry other people and start their own families. Years later, she and Irvin worked together, but did not date for several years. They watched one another experience difficult times, including the passing of Irvin’s wife, as well as Emma’s divorce. It was a long time before the two began dating, but when they did, their chemistry was evident. The two were married in April 2001.
Blending families is a challenge, but can present even more unique obstacles when a child has special needs. However, Emma cherishes the bond she shares with Cody and considers herself incredibly blessed to have him in her life. “I can’t imagine any woman who wouldn’t want to mother that child,” said Emma. “That extra chromosome made him extra special.”
Cody thrives on routine and has a set way he likes doing things. Emma and Irvin strive to provide him with that structure, which includes everything from his wardrobe to his weekly activities. Cody has a pretty standard “uniform,” which consists of T-shirts (usually character or super hero tees) and shorts or jeans. He wears this throughout the week as he attends Abilities Unlimited in Van Buren. The organization’s van picks him each morning from Emma and Irvin’s office, and drops him back off each afternoon.
Saturdays are special. He usually dons a particular polo to wear for his outings with Emma. Their usual weekend includes a visit to CV’s on U.S. 271 in Fort Smith where Cody is treated like a king by the deli/bakery staff. He arrives and immediately rings the bells on the counter, letting everyone know he is there and ready to eat. It is a highlight of the week for him, Emma and even the CV’s crew.
Combined, Emma and Irvin have five children and seven grandchildren. Affectionately known as Memaw and Pepaw, the two relish their roles and enjoy loving on their large brood. Part of that often involves watching Cody, who is a big kid at heart, as he plays with all his nieces and nephews. Uncle Cody keeps a bucket of swords and pretend weapons on-hand for when the kids come by. He also is well-known for the action figures he always carries. “He constantly has them fighting and they go everywhere we go,” Emma said.
Emma’s compassion and love for others extends far beyond the walls of her own home. For more than 15 years, she has volunteered at her church, Grand Avenue Baptist, serving children through the Awana children’s ministry program. Each Wednesday, she works with the elementary students on their curriculum, helping them establish a firm foundation in God’s Word.
Over the last several years, Emma also has logged many miles traveling to Honduras to do mission work at Orphanage Emmanuel. She first became involved with the orphanage through her church and has visited eight times. She goes with Grand Avenue Baptist every February and has been twice on her own. While there, she participates in building projects and helps make curtains, sheets and other items for residents.
“I say that God lets me speak Spanish and sew once a year,” joked Emma, who admits her sewing skills are limited to what she learned in her junior high home economics course.
Emma has formed a unique bond with many of the children in Honduras. “I have a relationship with many of the girls,” noted Emma. That includes a young woman named Dulce. She was in the orphanage when Emma first visited, and participated in the Awana program Emma helped coordinate there.
“I immediately knew I wanted to know more about her. God kept putting her in my path,” she said.
Through the years, the two have become very close, to the point Emma considers Dulce “her daughter in Honduras.” They speak regularly, with Dulce keeping Emma in the loop on her life as a second-year law student.
In addition to the bond she shares with Dulce, Emma feels connected to many of the other orphans she has ministered to over the years. They often inquire about Cody and ask for Emma to share stories about him and show them pictures of Cody she has on her phone.
“He will probably never go to Honduras, but Cody has reached those kids there. They call him ‘my special boy,’ and want to know about him.” And Emma is happy to oblige them. “I could tell so many stories about him.”
Emma’s incredible compassion and love shine through both home and as she travels abroad. She will likely never know the full impact she has had on those she encounters, but there is no doubt her family, Awana students, Honduran orphans and, of course, Cody are better because Emma is a part of their lives.
By Brittany Ransom
This article appears in the May 2017 issue of Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine