Posted by: fvbcdm | May 18, 2012

Feast of Saint Paschal Baylon (17 May 2012)

It was Mother’s Day in the year 1993.  As usual, Katherine Jubin, a family friend, had gone to visit my mother in the nursing home where she lived.  While there, she would dial my telephone number here in Houston and then let my mother and me have a little phone visit.  That day, though, something was different.   When I answered the phone, Katherine said very softly, “She doesn’t seem to want to talk today.”  However, she finally persuaded my mother to take the phone since it was Mother’s Day.  

Very uncharacteristically, my mother took the phone and without any small talk at all, she said, very seriously: “Don’t talk to me; talk to God.”  I didn’t quite know what to make of that, so I replied, “I do, Mama, and I will.  But what do you mean by that?”  She then repeated her exact words again: “Don’t talk to me; talk to God.”  And then she handed the phone back to Katherine.

Those were her last words to me.  A couple of days later, Katherine called to tell me that my mother had died very peacefully. She was ninety-nine years and two months old. It is appropriate that as I observe the anniversary of my mother’s death, we read in the gospel of today’s Mass the words of Jesus talking about his own death. “In a short time you will no longer see me, and then a short time later you will see me again.”  And he goes on to say, “You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy.”  Death is usually sorrowful, but our holy faith gives us every reason to hope that it will be followed by a far greater joy than we had while living our earthly life. I don’t know exactly what my mother meant by those last words to me, but I have no doubt that she would not swap places with us now.  Rather, I pray through her intercession for the grace of rejoining her in heaven where we can very joyfully talk to God and each other.   

I remember that in December of 1941, just a few days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, my father’s sister Annette died after weeks of pain and suffering from cancer.  Her husband used to talk about “Poor Annette,” calling her “poor” because she had died.  One day, another of my aunts said to him, “Frank, stop talking about ‘poor Annette.’  Annette was a loving sister to me, wife to you, and mother to your children.  I envy her the heaven that she now enjoys. In a comparison between her and us, we are the ‘poor’ ones, not Annette!”

So today I am happy that Our Lord has taken my mother to the “place that he has prepared for us, so that where he is, we also might be.” Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

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