Saturday, December 6, 2014
opening the doors of hope...
The other day, a dear friend posted a quote from Cardinal Ratzinger on Facebook.I know, Susan Sarandon, he's a Nazi. The Cardinal who became Pope Benedict XVI, had some words that really helped me see a path for Advent.He wrote: "It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness and thus open the doors of hope." What an awesome challenge. Not good memories, but memories of goodness.I dug around in the old trunk that is my mind and found two I would like to share.
The first involved my dear mother and drives we took together down Front St. to the town of Hempstead. As we turned onto Front Street, the public bus stop became visible. If she knew or even slightly recognized someone standing there or headed to the stop, she would pull over and pick them up. I begged and pleaded with her to keep going."Please don't stop!" She would pat my head and say,"Don't you think it is too cold to be out today?" Just because most of those waiting were frozen to the ground meant nothing to me. If they joined us, I would have to say hello or (shudder) talk to them. Horrors! In they got and received the gift of a warm old black DeSoto back seat and my mother's chatter.There was goodness riding in that car, but not in the front passenger seat.
Later, when I was in 19, and still in school, a married woman moved in across the street.She had wed a childhood friend and moved into his house to an upstairs apartment. I admired her greatly.She, of brown curls, sweet face and warm, smiling brown eyes. Although just a bit older than I, she seemed more mature.Sadie,Sadie married lady and all.
Jeanne and I became friends and one day she asked me to drive with her to Queens to visit her seriously ill mother. Queens was another world. This was an exotic trip. This next county over from us had apartments and houses so close together and "hoods."Those black leather jacket wearing, duck tailed hair boys.Oh, the adventure. Later, I lived in Queens and it is a fact that some residents were so tired of mowing their 3 foot by 5 foot front yard that they cemented it over and painted it green.True.
Off we went chatting and laughing our way West. I think her mother and father lived in an upstairs apartment. I remember climbing stairs and meeting her mother.Amazingly, as Jeanne washed and curled her hair, Mom let lose a steady stream of condemnation."You are a bad child. You never visit. Bad."Over and over.As callow as I was, I recognized that the Multiple Sclerosis was affecting her brain.The barrage never stopped and I had one eye on the door and the other on the drama.It was like a train wreck and I was fascinated in a bad way. This is what I will never forget: Jeanne smiling, singing little songs as she cleaned the kitchen. Planting a kiss on her Mom's face and teasing her. Loving the "real "mother that was far away.
On the way home, she chatted and I was very quiet, chastened by the surety that if I lived to be a hundred, I would never be as patient as she had been.
Jeanne passed away a few weeks ago and as she makes her journey to elsewhere, the first person I know she will see will be her real mother, in a place without sickness, pain, or loss, where every tear will be wiped and all that remains will be love.She belongs there.