In the wake of Mother’s Day, do take a moment to read this love letter by Diocese of Lansing-based writer Jessica Schaub to her own mother whom Jessica thanks for being “a beautiful example of love and for modeling a life of prayer”. Jessica is also a mother as well as a staff member and parishioner at Saint Peter in Eaton Rapids. She writes:
We were somewhere in Oklahoma, the second day into a three-day cross-country trip. We had traveled through Texas deserts, the incredibly boring plains of Oklahoma, and were now in corn country heading toward Chicago where we would finally cross into Michigan where all our family and friends would greet us, celebrate with us, and spoil us rotten. My five-year-old sister was starting to sing louder than necessary. Even I, at seven-years-old, knew that she was being a pest. As the saying goes, the best way to beat ‘em is to join ‘em. For several miles, the chorus of “99 Bottles of Pop on the Wall” rang crisp from a dueling duo of sisters. At a secret signal from my dad, my mom called out, “Okay, girls! I have something for you!” From the depths of the bag at her feet, she pulled out two Wooly Willy Magnetic Face boards. My sister and I stopped singing and spent the next 50 miles making silly faces by dragging shredded magnet fibers onto a cartoon face. Mom was always prepared to have what we needed, but ifMad Libs, silly putty (which she didn’t repeat on subsequent trips), link-chain puzzles, or dozens of little trinkets and games that kids love.
All through my life, mom has been prepared with a bag of goodies: a tissue, a curiously strong mint, or a prayer. There is also a small bag of Rosary bracelets she has made and had blessed. She has given them away, sold them, and given all the money to the church. By sharing these bracelets, she encourages all she meets to pray, to commune with God, to seek help from the Creator Himself. She prays the Rosary daily and she prays for loved ones in her life who struggle, but it was the habit of prayer that brought her beautifully through her own greatest struggle.
On October 14, 2019 Mom suffered a brain hemorrhage. Within minutes of her waking, she asked for her Rosary. Throughout her stay at both the hospital and in rehabilitation, the Rosary was either in her hand or tucked safely under her pillow. As she was learning to manage without the use of her left side, it was mom who was praying for all the staff. She knew their names, the stories behind their tattoos, and they all were given a Rosary bracelet. When she left, every person she had encountered during her two month stay loved my mom and they all wore the Miraculous Medal on their wrist. I pray they still do.
As I watch mom regain some of her independence after her hemorrhage, I am in awe of her love for the Faith, her affection for Mary, and her desire for prayer. I know she misses the way her life used to be, but she doesn’t complain. She is alive, she is faithful, and she is a prayer warrior. She might not be able to carry a heavy load in her arms, but she carries the burdens of many to Our Lord in prayer. Her faith brings her through each day, through each struggle, and her burden is lightened because she knows she is loved.
And she still has a large bag with her; it hangs on the back of her wheelchair. Inside are Rosary bracelets and if you need one you will have one. There are also little goodies and necessities for people she may meet: from bandaids to tissues to a pair of scissors. When you see her, she will learn your name and she will love you instantly. Her greatest gift is not carried in her purse, but in her soul: love. The journeys I have taken with my mom have been many. The journeys continue and because of her faith and undying trust in God, the roadblocks, the detours, and the scenic routes all point to one destination: God. And I pray, Sainthood.
Mom, thank you for being such a beautiful example of love and for modeling a life of prayer. Every time I see you, you greet me with your love, you celebrate the day with me, and you spoil me rotten. I love you so much!
In God's Peace,
• This week Bishop Boyea is challenging each of us to write a letter of thanksgiving to our own mother, living or dead, and to pray a Hail Mary for her daily. It’s the latest weekly challenge from Bishop Boyea as part of his Disciples Together on the Way initiative. Find out more about this week's challenge by clicking here.