Running to the Phone
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The phone rings and I run because I think it is my Mom. We have spoken every day since I went to college and in the last year, we have talked 2-3 times/day. My Mom is my best girlfriend, sister, and Mother rolled into one. She is in an assisted living facility and I have not been able to hug her and be with her since the beginning of March and it is now August. It is only in the last three weeks that I have been allowed to see her through a window on the same floor which is a step up from waving to her from the 3rd floor balcony. She is a prisoner and during our “window visits,” I have 20 minutes to convey my love, share our lives, and encourage her to stay strong. My Mom used to take a long walk to the dining room three times a day along with taking walks to the neighboring buildings and outside. She encounters many people during her day and they all know and love Maria. It is easy to spot her tiny hunched over little body, her snow-white hair, sparkling green eyes, swollen feet/legs, but most of all the beauty of her soul which is evidenced through her loving words, smiles, and acts of kindness. My Mom is an inspiration to many people. She does not realize how many lives she touches because she is a truly humble servant of the Lord. When I used to visit her before COVID and walk through her day, we bumped into the many people my Mom came in contact with on a regular basis. The women who help keep the facility clean, the men who take care of maintenance, the director of nursing, the dining room staff, the fellow residents, the nurses, the therapists, doctors, aides, the ladies in the gift shop, the woman who sits at the information desk in the adjacent building, and the priest in the chapel. These are just a few examples and they all know and adore my Mom. My shy, introverted, humble, sweet, holy, and loving Mom. They tell me things like, “Your Mom is the sweetest person I know. I have never heard her say anything bad about anyone.” “I love your Mom. She always has a kind word for me and everyone she meets.” Your Mom is an angel.” “Don’t worry, I am taking good care of your Mom, she is like a momma to me.” “Your Mom inspires me with how she faithfully walks every day hunched over with her swollen legs/feet.” “Your Mom is the first person at church on Sunday and she comes to the chapel every day to pray.” “I know your Mom, she is always looking for ways to brighten someone’s day.”
She is completely dedicated to her family and helping those in need around her. If she saw a book, movie, article, or something she thought we would enjoy we would receive a package from her. She was the first person to help us when we had our babies. When I was very ill as a young adult she was by my side for weeks, nursing me back to health. If my brothers or I needed a babysitter for a day or for weeks, she was there. She loves with a pure sacrificial love. She was always delivering cards, flowers, and little gifts to all the people she came in contact with at the assisted living facility. Last year, a resident placed a sign outside his room a few weeks before Halloween, “You are never too old to get candy.” My Mom secretly brought him candy every day and left it outside his door until October 31st.
I am sure that many of you have similar circumstances and understand the pain that I feel. It is so very hard to be separated from our loved ones and to think of them so isolated in their rooms most of the day with very little opportunity to even walk or be outside. Besides meeting her through the window, we talked several times/day to try to cover the immense gap of not being able to hug, spend a day together, attend church together, or share a lovely meal. Now the phone rings and it is never her. Saturday afternoon she was taken to the ER because for days she has not been herself. She was decreasing in movement, conversation, and executive functions last week. I tried to alert the nurses and doctors for days that she needs medical attention but they told me she is fine, just tired. By Saturday evening she was in the ICU unresponsive and fighting for her life. An infection has so taken over my poor Mom’s body that for a time she could not maintain a heart rate or blood pressure. Something similar happened a few months ago, but this time is more severe and the doctor does not know if she can fight through again in her weakened state. I was told that I would be able to visit her on Monday, but the new doctor on duty decided against it.
Now, through my tears, I “talk” to my Mom about my day. She always wanted to know everything…what I am cooking, writing, what the kids and my husband are doing. She is my biggest cheerleader along with my husband. I could always pick up the phone and she was there for me. She would happily stop whatever she was doing so we could talk. On days that I was struggling, she gave me great encouragement and she enriched my faith life and love of God with her closeness to Him. Since she was locked in her room most of the day, she watched EWTN. It became her joy to “attend” Mass 3/day and to tell me about all the interesting programs, like Fr. Leo cooking in Budapest, the place of her birth. We laughed about things we did in the past and we were looking forward to being together very soon. She gave me the greatest gift in the world, my faith.
The words spoken about my Mom remind me of the virtues of many saints, but especially St. Mother Teresa. Below are quotes from St. Mother Teresa.
Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.
Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.
Intense love does not measure, it just gives.
Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.
Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.
The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”
If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Love cannot remain by itself – it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action, and that action is service.
The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.
What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.
I want you to be concerned about your next-door neighbor. Do you know your next-door neighbor?
I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, ‘How many good things have you done in your life?’ rather he will ask, ‘How much love did you put into what you did?
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
Joy is a net of love in which you can catch souls.
Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.
If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.
I am praying for you, dear friends in Christ. I am so grateful for everyone’s prayers for my Mom and my family. They are giving us great strength during this difficult time. I can never thank you enough, but I know our Lord will. God bless you and keep you close to His Sacred Heart.
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