When I introduced my mother to the man that was to be my husband, she smiled and told him, “I gave you your first bath!” We both learned that day my mother was the labor and delivery nurse the day my husband was born. Our two mothers were destined to cross paths many times over the years as their firstborns married and gave them grandchildren.
To say our mothers were Catholic would be an understatement! Our mothers lived and breathed their faith. My husband and I both grew up in a Catholic home with mothers who were Mount Carmel Academy graduates. Our mothers would sprinkle holy water around the house during bad weather, pray to Saint Anthony when something important went missing, and dutifully prayed the rosary daily.
My mother-in-law, affectionally known as Granny, took an active role in being a spiritual mother to her family. She taught her grandchildren to pray the rosary among other prayers. My children and all her grandchildren have wonderful memories of attending mass and receiving sacraments with their Granny. She began hosting weekly family rosaries which laid a solid foundation of faith and family in each of our hearts. She taught me how to be a more faith-filled mother and grandmother for my children and grandchildren. She taught us all how to love Jesus and His mother, Mary, and imitate them in our lives by seeking God’s Will. She has been the heart and soul of our family.
Granny showed me how to face adversity and suffering in life with grace and hope. Even though her illness robbed her each day of her independence while adding to her pain and suffering; when asked how she was doing, she would always smile and answer, “I am having a good day”. Her smile was contagious. The last gift she gave me was to reassure me of God’s presence in my life. During her last weeks here, she asked me to bend my head close to her so that I could hear her faint voice. It brought me great joy to hear her say that she loved me like a daughter. She went on to say that everything had worked out like God had planned and that made her very happy.
There is a photo I love of my mother and mother-in-law at my son’s wedding. They are sitting side by side with heads bent toward each other in conversation. Some time after the wedding, my mother relayed to me Granny had quietly told her, “Who would have thought when you were delivering my baby that the two of us would be sitting together fifty years later in St. John’s Cathedral, about to watch our grandson marry.” My husband was the man God planned for me. From the moment he was born, his mother was also destined to become my mother. She has been a precious gift to my family.
This past week has been a week of grief, sorrow, holiness, prayer and reflection as our family spent time with Granny for the last time on earth. My mother is too frail now to leave home, but she called me daily to reassure us she was praying rosaries and thinking of all of us. It is tremendously hard to watch a loved one suffer. I found myself in my prayers telling the Lord enough was enough. I started to question His motives as I watched a beautiful, faith-filled woman slowly wither away.
Fridays in the Catholic Church is a day of sorrow in remembrance of the Passion of Christ. This past Friday morning I had a talk with Father before mass and confessed that I was telling God what He should be doing instead of trusting in Him and His Will. Father gave me words of encouragement and told me to go to Mother Mary that day, saying “Let Mary take you to the cross.” God knew Father’s words were exactly what I needed to hear. God did not stop there, on the ride after mass, while listening to Catholic radio, I learned about Anselm of Canterbury, a mystic from the medieval period who was given the gift of seeing Christ’s passion through the eyes of Mary. One of the swords which pierced the heart of Mary was meeting up with her Son while He carried His cross. Jesus lovingly thanked Mary for being a wonderful mother and for always taking such good care of Him while allowing Him to follow the will of His Father. Suffering is never in vain; the Cross led to the Resurrection. I had to trust my Father in heaven and know that as my mother-in-law had told me, God has a plan. It was on the eve of this special day that our Granny was called home.
She leaves behind a legacy. I will continue to host family rosaries. I will encourage more families to do the same. I will share my faith and trust in the Lord in good times and in times of sorrow.
Yesterday my mother called and asked that I stop by her home, saying she had something for us. She handed my husband and I an envelope and expressed her sympathy for our loss. On the ride home, I opened my mother’s envelope and found some cash with a note it was for masses intended for Granny. These two mothers’ paths will cross again one day. I have no doubt there is a special place in heaven for mothers who follow God’s Will and devote their lives to caring for not just the physical needs but also the spiritual needs of the souls of their children and grandchildren.
Thank you Granny for your love, lessons, and legacy. You will forever be cherished in our hearts and souls!