Monday, October 19, 2015

The Communion of Saints, My Mother Irene, Our Mother Mary

Oblates of Mary Immaculate chapel at the National Shrine. Photo by Bob Garrow from My Year of Faith.
At the closing of the church year, we celebrate All Saints November 1, All Souls November 2, Christ the King the last Sunday, this year November 22. Jesus makes us people saints, His friends. He makes us a communion of saints of heaven and purgatory and earth, His family of friends. He makes us His city, His kingdom during time and eternity, the city, the kingdom of His Father by His Breath, us brothers and sisters people and angels with earth and universe, our family with our home and duration.

At the end of our life and history, of our graced yes or sinful no to Him and His way for us, if we end as His friends and not as His enemies, Jesus will raise our bodies gloriously and halo us. Prior to this, He will vision and mansion us, He will dowry us. We will be His family of friends made through His passion and resurrection and ours with and like and through Him.

We look forward to meeting the saints, especially friends and family members. January 5, 1939, my mother Irene was killed on Highway 66 near Amarillo, Texas, in the panhandle, more precisely near Pampa. In the front seat were my father driving; myself, age 9, in the middle because carsick; and my mother. This was before seat belts. At the impact of the sideswipe collision with another car, she and I were thrown out of our car. She lay silent, blood streaming from her mouth, either dying or dead, me nearby unable to move because of injury. This was the last time she was ever in my vision. Because of my injury and long stay in the local hospital, it was not possible for me to participate in her burial from our home parish, Sacred Heart, Rock Island, Illinois. After that, some wonderful women helped me grow up and mature: Aunt Annie Nelson (she called herself a shirttail relation); Ethel my father's second wife and a friend of my mother from their time working together at a lumber company; Sr. Lucy BVM (Luciola then, a young woman from Chicago and our choir teacher). Most of all, Mary Mother of Jesus and of us each and all.

The Catholic teaching of Jesus about the communion of saints was a huge blessing for me dealing with my longing to be close to her, a longing even to this day at age 86. A few years ago, there was a movie that touched me deeply, "I Am David." It is the true story of a boy and a mother separated after escape from a Slavic communist nation and drawn together years later in Stockholm. At their airport encounter, he said, "I am David." My hope is to meet my mother in heaven and identify myself, "I am Don." She can tell me her story and song, and she can hear mine. May all we brothers and sisters together and singly rejoice in the hope that Jesus gives us during our time for our eternity.

In second year of college at an OMI minor seminary, we had a course on writing. From then, at age 20, this is my portrait of my mother, even now my memory of her:

Mother and her middle child early on
My mother was a loving and a lovable person. She loved people, play, life, and God. She was loved by everyone who knew her. 
Since her father worked in a foundry, her childhood was spent in the poorer section of town, yet she was happy and her large, brown eyes and mischievous smile radiated her happiness to others. The old maids of the neighborhood vied with one another in treating her to a piece of candy. 
She liked to play, whether it was with dolls or a baseball. Perhaps her fondness for play accounts for her low grades in school, since her mentality was of good caliber. She spent many an hour on the Sisters' platform for laughing or inattention. 
After graduating from high school and a brief business course, my mother worked in the main office of a lumber company. She was a favorite among the girls of the office. Her good nature was irresistible. The girls dubbed her "soft heart" because she was a shoulder to the unhappy and to the unpopular girls. However, in front of men, she was bashful and shy. When my dad, an employee of the same company, asked her for a date, my mother was swept off her feet. Her answer was yes; a year later, she was answering, "I do."  
Since my dad was earning a fair salary, they were soon able to buy a house of their own. In due time they peopled the house with three children. My mother was an ordinary housewife. She enjoyed playing with us children and experimenting with new recipes and patterns. 
My dad bought her many things. Whether he gave her an iron or an ice cream cone, she always received it with a childlike joy that fills the giver with happiness. Yet she was conscious of her poor relatives, and had a magic way of helping them; they felt they were doing her a favor. 
Civil war divided our family, since my mother was a Cub fan and my dad a Sox fan. Her favorite player was Gabby Hartnett. One of the thrills of her life was seeing a Notre Dame/Northwestern football game, for she was an ardent Notre Dame radio fan and one of their most loyal unofficial alumnae. 
When nearing her middle thirties, my mother was critically afflicted with cancer. An operation failed to cure her. Although she suffered much, she never complained. Once while we were shopping, she suddenly had such pains in one arm that she could not even hold a small package with it and had to go home at once. However, God spared her a slow, painful death; He took her life in an automobile accident. 
My mother had loved God in her own simple way. She strove to obey the commandments and was a loyal member of the Church. The memory of my mother often cheers the hearts of her family and friends. We still share her love; we still love her.
My mother Irene helps me appreciate Mary wife of Joseph, our Mother.

Father Don

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