Sunday, March 26, 2023

Mom, Part 2


Where do I begin here talking about my mom's funeral, or Mass of the Resurrection for the woman that has been in my life as a force to be reckoned with since my birth.  My mom was 2nd generation born American from Irish Catholic parents. She was the last of 6 children. I don't think mom was spoiled or pampered at all as the youngest, she would say that she had to learn to cook at age five.  My grandfather was a frontline foreman with the Erie Railroad and retired after 48 years of service.  My grandmother was a housewife.  They had an Aunt Minnie that lived with the family for years helping out with laundry and mending.  I remember visiting her in the old folk's home, she was a whisp of a thing in white sheets and a blanket. 

Anyway, mom raised us Roman Catholic.  Dad was a methodist when they married, but when I was born, he decided to convert.  We attended Mass every Sunday and even on vacation.  She taught me about the faith in her actions and her prayers.  We had all the typical Catholic pictures about our home. My parents tried to pray the rosary as a family, but my 2 brothers wouldn't be still, and they gave up.  I kind of wish they didn't give up.  Maybe our family would have survived and not broke up...but alas, I digress.

Mom lived alone for about 41 years.  She had a condo that she had all fixed up beautifully in her peaches and creams.  She gave me her chair and ottoman that her uncle Samuel, Fr. Haughton, had in his rectory that she had for years after her parents died.  She was proud of her priest uncle and had memories of spending time with him.  She was a devout Catholic and an Irish one at that.

So, when mom was sent to the assisted living a few years ago, I contacted the parish near her and made sure she received communion each week.  She loved the older couple that would come each Wednesday.  They would read the daily readings and give her communion.  Later when she was moved to the nursing home last year she didn't know anyone who was Catholic and didn't receive Communion for several months. When I visited her in November 2021, i went to the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament, nearby and at the giftshop met a lady named Judy who told me she went each week there on Thursdays.  "Consider it done!" she said, when I asked her to put my mom on her list.

My younger brother, who was with mom at the end.

Judy and another lady visited mom every Thursday from that week on and mom would call me to tell me about their visit.  When I went there to say goodbye to mom in last October, I went to the shrine and found Judy at the giftshop and told her. She was so sad, but said she would go the next day.  My son and I had to leave on Thursday the day before mom died.  Judy went to see mom and pray the rosary over her.  My younger brother and his son were there with her and told me later how power and impressed they were.  Kevin, my younger brother, stayed with mom all that day and came back the next day to hold mom while she took her last breath.  Before I left on Wednesday, I mentioned to the hospice nurse that mom was Catholic.  She asked if I wanted her to call Fr. for her last rites.  She said, if I call, he comes right away.  I said "Yes, please."

Our family attended St. Peter's Catholic Church in Hoover, Alabama for years when we first moved to Birmingham, Alabama.  I called the parish office concerning the niche she purchased in the parish columbarium years ago.  The lady was very nice and asked if we were planning the funeral.  I really wasn't sure, my brothers weren't Catholic and I didn't know any of mom's friends anymore.  She said, "You need to talk for Fr., he will help you!  We consider him the funeral priest, its his gift."  After speaking with Fr. Vernon, he convinced me that it was alright to plan one and that "your mom was a practicing Catholic up to the very end and she deserves a funeral Mass."  I agreed.

Mom's funeral was beautiful and Fr. Vernon was just the man to help me with it.  Our daughter, Sarah was able to get off work to attend and cantored the ceremony.  practiced "O Danny Boy" and then asked if I'd sing with her as a duet.  We powered through it pretty well.  My two brothers and their wives attended and 2 of my nephews.  Our son, Marshall and his wife Emily were able to get off work too.  It was wonderful having everyone together.  

My brother, Mike was her executor and took care of her the last few years, he told me he picked out the urn for mom. He said that the funeral director pointed to a cheap urn, but Mike said, No, I want that one."  It was one with a band of pearl around it.  Mom told me years ago, that if she would stop biting her nails that she would like a pearl ring.  Imagine that.

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