Have you ever had one of those people in your life who you just could not live without and who has had such a profound impact on you and on others that you could not help but regard that person as a living saint? Well, I have the privilege of not only knowing and loving such a person, but the honor of calling her “Mama.” Today, June 26 is her birthday. God has blessed the world with her for 65 years, so in honor of my mother and her birthday, I share with you this tribute.
My mother, Priscilla, has affected me and my life in profound ways. There has not been a day that has gone by that she has not told me she loves me, in thought, word, or deed. The day I had my first child, she was with me in the delivery room and I looked at her and said, “Thank you, Mama.” It was at that moment that I truly understood why she loved me so much. All I could think was that I had mighty big shoes to fill; my mother was exactly what a mother should be.
My mom is an incredibly selfless person. She gives of herself and never asks for anything in return. She retired and took care of my youngest child everyday while I worked; she currently takes care of her elderly parents, one of which has Alzheimer’s and is bed ridden. Growing up, my mother (and father) sacrificed and worked hard to make sure my sister and I attended Catholic school from grades 1-12. She went without the big house, nice cars, and vacations so that she could pay tuition. We are her priority and her joy in life. I always feel beautiful in her eyes in every way. She is a wonderful grandmother and her grandchildren admire her and love her incredibly. Every Sunday, she took my grandmother, her mother in law, with us to Mass and spent time with her, treating her as if she were her own mother. Her undying love for my dad has resulted in a 44 year marriage. She has shown him love and patience and faithfulness like no other.
My mother has never been a didactic Catholic. She does not try to impress with dogma, nor does she patronize with her goodness or preaching of Truth. She prays quietly in her own way, but she is one who St. Francis described as “preaches the Gospel always, uses words if necessary.” Her goodness shines through in her day to day interactions with others. Everyone who crosses her path is left with a better sense of themselves and a feeling of peace. Complete strangers, at the grocery store, at the airport, divulge every detail of their personal strife to her and they are left with a hope and feeling of not being alone in the world. It is quite amazing! My sister and I are continually astounded when we witness one of these episodes. In a ten minute conversation at the airport, she consoled a woman, whom she had never met before, over the loss of her adult child to suicide. The woman walked away with a peaceful smile on her face. These miraculous occurrences were commonplace for me growing up.
She has taught me how to forgive. When she is hurt by someone, usually someone who has taken advantage of her generosity and goodness, she immediately forgives. She moves past these hurts in an amazing way. I look to her example on how to forgive those who are hurtful and hateful; I see that she instinctively wishes goodness on such people. She is fiercely loyal and protective of those she loves, but in the gentlest manner. I can say anything to her—anyone can—and never feel judged or berated. I often think this is the type of person the Blessed Mother must have been.
This type of person does exist. I constantly pray to be like her. I even named my daughter after her; I hope that she will be like her Nana in some way, any way. Thank you for allowing me to share this remarkable example of Christ’s love with you all. She is truly a Living Saint.
Charla is a life-long Catholic, married since 1995. She has three children who attend Catholic school and university. Charla has been teaching high school English literature at the same Catholic high school she attended for over 15 years. She has Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, Latin American Studies, and Secondary Education, as well as a Masters degree in Education. Charla has served as a lector and Eucharistic minister at her parish and school. She enjoys reading, cooking, running, and all activities involving her children. Her special devotions are to the Blessed Mother, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and the Holy Rosary.