I hadn’t planned to write anything tonight but then I remembered her beautiful face shining in the late Cape Cod sun and the promise I made to her just a few days ago – “write about what a beautiful family we were.” Watching my precious father, sister and brother walk my mother to the gates of heaven today prompted me to keep that promise to a person who brought out the very best in each of us.
At approximately 3 pm today, my beloved mother Joan Mary took the hand of her lifelong friend, Blessed Mother Mary and entered paradise. She was surrounded by her husband of 52 years and her 3 devoted children. Shortly before her departure, we surrounded her in prayer, reciting the rosary, her favorite prayer, with quiet classical music playing in the background. It was a serene, yet sorrowful setting, to say farewell to a woman who had made our lives more than we could have ever hoped for or imagined. Thanks to her deep faith which she passed on to us, we knew this was not goodbye, merely “so long” until we see you again – in paradise – where there is no more cancer, no more pain, no more suffering. And this was the ultimate prayer for our humble mother who had always put herself last so that others could be first. Even in the last months of her cancer, she didn’t share how much pain she was in for fear of worrying her children. I will never have the privilege of knowing a more selfless and humble servant of God. She is, and always will be our hero.
Love is to will the good of the other and my parents always did that for each other throughout their marriage. They taught us (their three children) to live our marriages in the same way. We feel especially grateful to have been given the gift of Joan and Joe as our parents – two people who loved and respected each other deeply. In fact, mom and dad’s wedding song 52 year’s ago was I Love You Truly.
As I shared, mom was always giving to others – even when it was most difficult. When we arrived at the Hospice Center 2 weeks ago today, she turned to my dad and said “Can we dance one more time Joey?” Even though this was incredibly hard for her, she got up – with help – and danced one final time with her beloved Joey. She even sang I Love You Truly in his ear. When she was done, she quietly whispered “I’m ready.” Having given all she had for the one she loved the most, she was ready to rest. This is what true love is all about – giving of oneself for the good of another – the act of sacrificial love. Mom did that until the moment our Lord called her home. There is no greater example of selfless love. She is my mom, but she is also an extraordinary example for so many others – a person who loved without boundaries, gave without questions, helped without being asked, judged not, envied no one, offered a hand to the needy and infirm and listened with an open heart.
So long mom – I will miss you every moment of every day but I know you will make yourself known – I am counting on that. I promise to pray often and to try to become half of the woman who you are. I thank God for giving me to you – there could be no greater love between a daughter and mother. You are my hero, my beloved, my inspiration, my everything – I LOVE YOU! Rest easy now – our Saint in heaven.