This post was originally written on Sept. 15, the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. My apologies for takinga while to get this online, as I've beenpraying really really hard this week! -V
My mom has made a great many sacrifices for me during my life. She's turned down jobs to put my needs first, she stopped having relationships in order to focus on raising me, and there were times when she's put aside her wants so that I could have presents under the Christmas tree, or just have a nice dinner. When I was in fifth grade, my mother coached the flag football team because we wanted to play, but no one was available to coach. Large or small, my mother has done great things for me.
And maybe I'm no different than any other Catholic...seeing the works of my mom as a parallel to the Blessed Virgin Mary. And maybe every mother sees her son as young boy who will be capable of great things, as I'm sure Mary did. In spite of that, there is a unique aspect of coming from a single-parent family and being an only child makes the parallel to Mary and Jesus that much more significant to me.
There are many nuances involved with a single-parent/only-child family, but one of them has been more evident as of late. And while I wouldn't dare to assume equality with the divinity of Christ, I think if I ever got a chance to sit with Jesus and compare our respective mothers, we'd have a good laugh.
Two weeks ago my mom underwent surgery for her shoulder. She fell on ice last winter and injured her shoulder when she landed. She's had surgery planned since that time, but (as some mother are prone to do) she was stubborn and put off the operation until it really started to cause her pain.
My aunt called me when the surgery was done. While it was a success, the doctor said there was a lot of arthritis in her shoulder that may cause future problems. If the shoulder failed to heal properly, she would require an entire shoulder replacement.
The news was a gut-check to me. Here I am 500 miles away living towards a vocation where I hoped to work with the poor, when back home my mom was recovering. On top of that, there exists a real possibility that her shoulder might prevent her from working. Hunting for jobs in Michigan is not easy these days; the reality of having a mom who is just as poor as the people I work with is something I had to deal with.
Out of some "maternal 6th sense" my mom called the next day to let me know that she is doing well and not to worry about her. She didn't talk about the possible implications of long-term problems...rather she just focused on the physical therapy and hope for the future. She asked how I was doing, let me know people were thinking about me, and talked about how the rest of the family was doing. And without missing a beat, she began to worry about my operation to remove wisdom teeth on Tuesday. Even in a recent email, she said she was doing well (except that it was hard to type with one finger), but then wanted to make sure I had a ride to the appointment so I wouldn't have to drive back by myself - still under the influence of the anesthesia.
That's my mom!
In our lives, there is this odd conflict where we try to worry about each other...yet give each other the freedom to live their own life. My mom has always supported me, even when I've made the stupidest of mistakes. And even though I didn't get to go as many places or have as nice of things as the other kids, I respected the lessons my mother gave me, be they lessons about respect, remembering our culture, or helping others who cannot help themselves.
Out of this comes an almost tragic story between the two: one where the mother suffers all for the needs of her son, and a son who wishes his mother would stop having to sacrifice for his benefit. I can think of no words to further describe this bond: however I remember my mom singing Helen Reddy's You and Me Against the World. If Mary were a fan of 70's music, that would be the song she would sing.
So as I listened to the day's antiphon for the Canticle of Mary, I thought of this relationship:
When Jesus saw his morther standing beside the cross with the disciple whom he loved, he said to her: Woman, behold your son. Then he said to the disciple: Behold your mother.
It reminded me of the last line I wrote in my latest email to my mom:
Would you stop worrying about me for a minute so I could worry about you?
Photo of Statue from Marseilles from Pictoral Musings