Tag Archives: life

Do What Love Requires

mom-and-meSix years ago, my Mother died. Just two days before that, we had celebrated her 64th birthday. She had been on Hospice for a couple of weeks, and we knew her death was imminent. Even when you know your loved one is dying, it’s painful and difficult to be prepared for it on this side of heaven. Prayer, my family, friends, Hospice, and my parent’s Parish community were instrumental in preparing me as best I could be.

Do the best that you can was what my Mother often told me. As a perfectionist (recovering now), she was the positive voice in my life that would remind me it’s OK to make mistakes, and that when I did, not to beat myself up over them. And there I was, trying to do the best I could through one of the greatest trials in my life. The word that the Lord gave me to hold onto during this time was, “Do what love requires.”

I had never been present when someone took their last breath, and that was something I was trying not fear, along with the grief of losing Mom. With several of us taking turns staying next to her bedside 24-hrs, I didn’t know if I would be there or not. But, “Do what love requires.”

The night of her last earthly birthday, we had an impromptu prayer meeting around my mother’s bedside. We felt that was her birthday wish. Having grown up in a Catholic Charismatic Community and later attending the Franciscan University of Steubenville, prayer meetings were very familiar to me. With my husband, brother, and Dad, we read to her from her Bible – her most highlighted, favorite passages. We sang the old praise and worship songs that she loved from back in the day. It was beautiful, and as I reflect on it now, I think that somehow we were preparing my Mother’s soul for the throne room of God. I’m humbled greatly by that, and honored.

You see, there is something transformative about worship, and I hope that more people (especially in a world full of anguish) will come to understand and truly experience it. Worship is the gift that we can give back to God, from our heart to His. Anyone can be grateful and express praise when our hearts are full of it; but when we are in the valley, when we are fearful, anxious, sick, exhausted or whatever we are going through – it is then when worship is an act of the will. We must will to thank and praise God, and rise above our temporary feelings, into a humble posture amidst our sufferings.

In worshipping God at that time, and taking the focus off of myself and my fear and grief – I placed it all where it needed to be; and afterwards, I realized that those things had been diminished. What grew was peace, love, strength, and acceptance. Fear is not of God, but rather it is a powerful tool of the Devil. It’s rampant in our culture, and the media stokes it. And if we’re not afraid, we’re too busy or distracted. Or trying so hard to self-help ourselves out of whatever pain or problem we’re facing. Our lives are so full and busy, that it very easy to become self-centered, allowing our feelings and fears take primacy.

While self-reflection is important, if we become too focused inward, we can become overly critical and more readily judge others. What they’re doing, not doing, or should be doing. We’re so quick to want to change others, but how about ourselves? By changing ourselves through prayer, humility, and perseverance – we WILL change others.

This is one of the most important things that my Mother taught me, in her daily example, and even through her stumbling. She was a woman of prayer, and her faithfulness to her family and prayer — reading the scriptures, fasting, going to Mass, praying the Rosary —  were the steadfast example that we needed. It was the foundation that her and my Dad laid that carried our family through good times, as well as times of great suffering.

Mom showed me to be faithful to whatever you are called to at that time in your life. For her, that included Cancer – twice. Be yourself, and allow others to be who they are; yet, call each other on to be good and give your best. And while she didn’t go to college and have advanced degrees, she wasn’t a high-powered CEO of a corporation or a movie star with a platform, she did make an impact by who she was, where she was, and how she lived.

That is the power of one. One life that touches others, shapes and molds them daily, by word and action. To do what love requires of you, right where God has placed you. It may not always be fun or feel fulfilling, and it may even feel like drudgery at times; but you have the power to choose joy or not. Mom’s joy was a magnet. It was what drew people to her and made them feel at ease, and drew them into relationship with her, and to experience God through her.

Mom loved many people, and many people loved her. By just being herself, she allowed others to be themselves, and feel loved and accepted. That’s the greatest gift you can give another, truly – as it’s what we all desire most deeply. We don’t have to understand each other, but we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Love is greater than tolerance. Mom showed us that love can remain, even when we don’t agree with each other, or the other’s life choices. She didn’t berate or belittle someone else for who they were or what they believed, yet she held respectfully to her own opinions and beliefs. More importantly, she lived them. If someone needed help, she was always wiling, as it wasn’t “to each his own” – but that we are the Body of Christ. And as such, if you needed correction, she would give that too. Out of love.

moms-prayer-card

On this anniversary of her death, I am thankful for the strong and nurturing example of womanhood that she was. She did what love required in her family, in her community — with joy, and that is how she changed others.

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Today We Celebrate Her Life…

I imagine that it was a cold, January day in Detroit, 1947, when little Eve came into this world. She was the first of four beautiful girls born to Anthony and Helen.

Family Photo: Tony and Helen, my Grandparents, are both 2nd from the Left

The blond curls of her tow-headed youth faded at some point to the short, brown hair that we always knew.

My Mother’s Graduation Photo

So too, her shyness as a girl later gave way to the chatty-with-anyone Mom that sometimes made us, inpatient children, sigh in exasperation in the grocery store line.

Little Me & Mom

Yet she showed us how to love, just by being who she was.

Simply by taking the time to have a friendly conversation with a stranger, or bringing a glass of cool lemonade to a worker in the yard, or giving her freshly, baked goods to the staff at Dentist office, or making her Fluffy Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes when your friends came over…all her simple acts of love were saying “you are special”. Such a beautiful reflection of God, who provides so many little and big ways to let us know of His love and care for us.

She made us laugh by making herself laugh.

She would thoughtlessly shake her foot on the bed as she tore through the paperback pages of her library romance novels.

She would tell you all the ingredients, measurements, and instructions to a recipe that you didn’t realize you wanted.

She would say, “Better let you go,” at least three times around the end of a phone conversation before she actually would let you go.

She would have your favorite meal on the table when you came home for a visit.

She spent many evenings playing cards or board games.

She would befriend someone that she just met outside a movie theater.

She loved us incomparably.

As did we.

My Parents on their Wedding Day

Our family in the great outdoors – as usual.

Grandma & Friend, with Four Daughters & Son-In-Laws

Mom spent every Christmas with her Grandchildren

Mom loved to be with her family. Family Reunion 2009

She would play games and/or cards on a dime

She loved her daughter-in-laws like her own

Spending time with family was always a priority

Always making something delicious from scratch

She took a surprise like a champ. My airport surprise when she was going through Cancer treatments the 1st time

She had a good time wherever she went

Mom + Dad = Witness of a loving marriage

Her humor and faith brought her through everything. At the games she secretly organized, after found out her Cancer had come back. Mom showed us we could laugh, even in the hard times.

She was able to meet my Sweetheart, and get to know him a bit…

Beautiful Mom, inside and out

Whatever she was made, it was bound to be gooood

Many family meals together…

She instilled the Faith in us that kept her strong

Loved her sisters, and shopping. Sporting her stylized Converse – fashionable, and Doctor-recommended 🙂

Beloved and loving Mom, thank you.

It is the first time that we are celebrating her birthday without her physically present…tough stuff. Not a day goes by that we don’t think of her or miss her.

Mom, it gives me peace that you are forever happy and whole now. You ran the race with endurance, rest in the greatest Love of all now.

As for us, today we will celebrate your life, that gave us life; the joy that brought many joy; and the love that made others feel so loved.

Love you, my Mom, my hero.

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