21 November

You are always in my thoughts but next Tuesday, the 21 November, many special prayers will be said for you as we remember your life and all you gave us. You truly were an extraordinary person to us. We always knew this while you were still with us, but it is strange how one tends to really comprehend and understand what a loved one, especially our mother, actually means to us.

Why do we, as human beings, tend to idolise our loved ones when they are gone?

I see and hear this so much. Do we really have to wait for the last few months, days, moments to wake up to the fact that this person is now leaving? Do we understand that every moment that we have with a person, whoever it may be, is so precious that we must, really must, try our utmost to treasure it?

When we are young, we all feel so invincible that life cannot come in our way..we don’t need anyone and only need to rely on our own strength, intelligence, physical might. Oh how wrong we are! All it takes is one strike, one episode of extreme vulnerableness, and we figure out that we need others, we need God. Do we believe in God? I believe that life shows you that without God we are truly nothing.

It was you who showed me this Mum. Not through any religious talks, or through taking me to church every sunday. No, you taught me this through your own actions, your example and how you led your life.

Even today, as I too grow older, new memories come to light. As I sometimes go through a memory box that I have of you, new things come to my attention where I reconnect or even discover something about you. Am I making sense? Let me give you an example. One of the items in my memory box is a medal of Our Lady hanging on a light blue ribbon. I had always wondered exactly what it was but never really pondered too long over it. One evening, I was feeling pretty low and I decided to go to the daily evening Mass. It was a Wednesday. It was early and I just sat on a bench in the stillness of the Church. The lights were dim and there were, maybe, a couple of people aside myself. I was alone with my thoughts, my worries, my fears and then I thought of you, of Dad, of my children, my husband, and all those who were close to me in my life. As I was lost in my thoughts, I hadn’t noticed that more and more people had entered the church, until I heard the sound of rummaging in a bag by this woman who sat down next to me. As I turned to look at her, I saw this medal of Our Lady hanging on a light blue ribbon, and she was putting it on, around her neck. My eyes fixed on this scene for those few seconds and, realising, she looked up at me and smiled. Of course, that moment passed and I smiled back and looked away. As I ‘woke up’ from my inner thoughts, I noticed that a number of women around me were wearing the same medal of Our Lady hanging on a light blue ribbon.

Each one in the congregation brought out a little booklet, which I also recognised from my memory box. A woman near the altar started to read from it and say prayers and decades of the rosary. I was intrigued.

Who would have thought that years later I too would be wearing this medal of Our Lady hanging on a light blue ribbon – your medal, holding your book, and praying with these women (for there were very few men). Only this summer, I truly believe that these prayers to Our Lady, that all these women said with the intentions directed to my sick granddaughter, helped her recover fully from a horrible bacteria. Mum, you were highly devoted to Our Lady. Today I know why.

Let us remember our beautiful loved ones who have gone but who are never forgotten. Their memory, your memory, is forever alive.

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