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On the occasion of my 72nd birthday, thank you mama

by davesandel on November 17th, 2021

Wednesday, November 17, 2021                               (today’s lectionary)

Memorial of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious

On the occasion of my 72nd birthday, thank you mama

I do not know how you came into existence in my womb; it was not I who gave you the breath of life, nor was it I who set in order the elements of which you are composed. It is the Creator of the universe who shapes each man’s beginning. He brings about the origin of everything and in his mercy, gives you both breath and life.

Mom thought these things of all her kids, David, Mary and John. She and Dad named us after bible heroes, and taught us from the bottom up that Jesus is Lord and the King is coming and He makes beautiful things, out of dust. Out of us.

Days go by, months, and I forget these lessons for awhile, then they return to mind. Sometimes I need a little kick to get started remembering. What did Ishmael say at the beginning of Moby Dick?

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.

My source of solace is not the sea, it’s often just this writing, just these words appearing on the screen as if by magic, simple twisting of my fingers on the keys and there they are! When I was in eighth grade I asked Dad to borrow his typing textbook and learned, for forever always after, to type. Mom was always a little jealous, she could only type carefully and slow. But now she is no longer in need of earthly solace, it’s me that longs for heaven. She’s already there.

She also didn’t get swim lessons when she was a kid, but she made sure we did. I shivered in my skinnies on the Lincoln Lakes dock several years in a row, but at last I became a licensed, registered, official Junior LifeSaver. And now, like the typing, when I get in the water I feel like a dolphin, all things work together for the good, and I feel at rest in this world. Can we swim sometime this week, on Thursday at the visitation, on Friday at the funeral? I suppose not.

Son, have pity on me, who carried you in my womb for nine months, nursed you for three years, brought you up, educated and supported you to your present age. I beg you, child, to look at the heavens and the earth and see all that is in them; then you will know that God made them out of nothing, and in that same way, he made you.

Mom had three children who spent time with her as she grew older, and older, and older. John was her on-the-ground, every-day friend. Mary Kay was her medical friend. I was her entertainer friend, although we all played that role at times. We talked about books and watched movies on TCM, we went out to eat and to see the autumn leaves turning every which color in October and November. We stopped at Funks Grove to see those leaves, we tried their maple syrup and bought some. We found a candy factory hidden in the countryside ten miles away and the owner gave us a tour, not to mention a few samples of their famous chocolate.

Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings. When I awake, I shall be content in your presence.

This is my birthday. Mom loved to celebrate birthdays. She loved to recollect the day and moment when we were born. She had a lot of them herself, but the best ones for her were ours. She believed in all of us, and never let us forget it. This has always been our most precious gift.

To everyone who has, more will be given. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

I remember Scott Peck’s unforgettable words in The Road Less Traveled:

Children who are truly loved (spent time with) unconsciously know themselves to be valued. This knowledge is worth more than gold, because those children can then feel valuable, in the deepest parts of themselves.

This is the gift God gives all of us. Mom for her kids was God with skin on. We are grateful to you, Mom.

 (2 Maccabees 7, Psalm 17, John 15, Luke 19)

(posted at www.davesandel.net)

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One Comment
  1. John Sandel permalink

    That was very nice, Dave. Happy Birthday !!!!! Hope you get to do a little celebrating today, favorite brother !! See you soon. Love , John

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