My mother died on May 17, 1993. She was ninety-nine years and two months old when she very gently and quietly breathed her last. I’d like to share with you a story that I find interesting.
On Mother’s Day, eight days before her death, a friend of ours had gone to visit her in the nursing home where she lived. As was our custom on Sunday afternoons when Katharine was there, she would dial my number and then give the telephone to my mother for a little conversation with me. That Sunday afternoon, the phone rang and when I answered it, Katharine said to me, in a low voice, “We don’t seem to want to talk on the telephone today.” Then I heard her coaxing my mother to take the phone and talk to me, reminding her that it was Mother’s Day, and I wanted to greet her specially on that day. My mother took the phone, and then said to me, very uncharacteristically, “Don’t talk to me; talk to God.” She had never said anything like that before; ordinarily she was happy to make small talk and chat on the telephone. So I said in reply, “Mama, I do talk to God and will continue to do it, but what do you mean by that?” She simply repeated what she had said exactly: “Don’t talk to me; talk to God.” And with that, she gave the telephone back to Katharine. Those were her last words to me.
I’m not sure what was going through her mind, but it was quite obvious that she thought any further conversation unnecessary. I suspect that she felt her life in this world coming to an end, and she felt more a part of the next world than this one. Ever since my ordination to the priesthood, I had had the joy of praying for the repose of my father during my celebration of Mass. He had died in an automobile accident when I was eight years old. Now, as long as I am able to celebrate Mass, I have the joy of praying for both my parents in the commemoration of the dead at every Mass. I certainly hope that neither of them needs prayer any longer, but just as certainly will I continue to pray for them, in case they do.
Let us be grateful for our parents. Let us pray for them, whether living or dead. We owe them our physical lives, and in most cases, our spiritual lives as well. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.