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The Catholic Moment: At the hour of my death

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

By Father Rob Waller

I suspect that I am missing my mother when I think of French toast and get the urge to make it myself. With each piece of egg bread that I put in the skillet, I imagine my mother behind me insisting, “More butter!” Mom’s French toast probably tastes better in my memory than it did in real time, but the memory sure tastes good.

I know that I am really missing mom when I reach for the rosary that she called her “fancy rosary.” It was the first one that I brought home for her from the Holy Land, and it was the last one that she held when she died. I hold it, trying to feel her fingers that prayed over those beads.

Mom used to say, “The Blessed Mother gets whatever she wants from her son.” She claimed that she threatened Jesus in her prayer, “If you don’t give me what I want, I’m going to tell your mother!”

I’m not sure about the theology of those statements. Maybe that was just mom’s experience of her own son. When a mother asks, a son gives her whatever she wants. At last this one did.

When mom died, a simple Mexican sister told me, “Now you have two mothers in heaven, one named Mary and one named Isabelle. They will both watch over you and pray for you.”

I told her, “Thanks. That helps. But I’d still rather have her here with me.”

Three months later, on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Sister Miriam reminded me of Mary’s words to Juan Diego, hoping, I’m sure, that I would hear the words as if spoken to me, “Do not be distressed, my son. Am I not here with you who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection?”

Even three and a half years later, on occasion I still miss mom. Maybe what I can give her now, even without her asking me, is my trust that she — and Mary — prays for this sinner now, and my hope that they will pray for me at the hour of my death. Amen.

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