by Lesle Knop
My mother died and was buried in late March. The periods of sadness come over me suddenly. I am fine. And then, a word, a sound, an image, will remind me of how much I miss her.
My two brothers and three sisters, our spouses and many of our children kept a vigil for several days around her hospital bed before she stopped breathing. Those days were the saddest — and the most beautiful — that we have ever shared as a family.
I understand deeply now the poignant loneliness of an orphan. Our mothers know us, understand us, forgive us and are the first persons we call with happy news.
The sobbing, inconsolable heartache we felt when Mom died must have been how Mary Magdalene felt when she wept at the tomb after Jesus died on the cross. But then, according to the Gospel of John, Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus called her by her name and she recognized immediately who he was.
Hearing her name spoken by her beloved Jesus! I can only imagine what that must have been like. The Easter story reminds me that although our mothers love us in their wombs, there is another who loves us first: Our Lord, Jesus Christ, who calls each of us by name.
My grandparents gave my mother a combination of their names — after Grandpa, Leo Patrick, and Grandma, Ruth Ann — and presented her for baptism at Sacred Heart in Arkansas City almost a century ago. At her baptism, they were asked, “What name have you given this child?”
The priest baptized her with her name, Patricia Ruth, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “God calls each one by name. Everyone’s name is sacred. The name is an icon of the person. It demands respect as a sign of the dignity of the one who bears it.” The name my mother gave me is mine throughout eternity. We are stewards of our good names.
My brothers and sisters and I received all that we have from God. We received life thanks to our mother, along with our talents and quirks and each other.
She also gave us our names. We are each called by name, beloved and claimed by God. How glorious it must have been for my mother to hear Jesus call her name. How glorious it will be when we are with him in paradise.