I hit the mother lode

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. He has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

“Oh, she’s so cute! I just love her!”

It’s a rare Sunday when I don’t hear something like this. And they’re not talking about a cuddly little newborn or fluffy kitten. No, they say this about my mom!

Just about every Sunday, some parishioners stop by Vintage Park in Tonganoxie to give my mom a ride to our 10:30 Mass. Afterwards, Mom holds court. What she most likes to do is ask for high fives from the kids, who rarely refuse. Next up on her post-Mass agenda is to sing a Croatian song or two and then instruct everyone within earshot “to keep an eye on Father Mark for me, so that he behaves.” Cute, right?

When I’m finally able to pry Mom away from her adoring fans, we head out for lunch where I endure another “Mom love fest,” courtesy of the waiter or waitress who serves us. Since Mom was a waitress and worked for many years for a catering company, she knows how tough it can be at times to deal with “the public.”

She goes out of her way to thank the workers from when we’re seated to when we leave. She “complains” with a wide smile about how huge the portions are when our orders arrive. And she’ll encourage the servers to “keep smiling and being as nice as you are.” Heck, by the end of the meal, they’re practically ready to carry her out to the car on their shoulders.

This type of behavior is not something new. Mom turned 99 — yes, 99 — on April 12, and she’s always been this way. She was deeply influenced by her own mom. I couldn’t help but think of Grandma Modrcin when I read this story by Mrs. Floyd Crook:

One day, a young girl came home from school crying because she had been given only a small part in the school play, while her playmate got the leading role. After drying the girl’s eyes, her mother took off her watch and put it in her daughter’s hand. “What do you see?” asked the mother.

“A gold band, a watch face and two hands,” said the girl.

Opening the back of the watch, the mother again asked, “Now, what do you see?” The daughter looked closely at the internal watch mechanism and saw many tiny little wheels, springs and other tiny pieces.

“This watch would be useless,” explained the mom, “without every part — even the tiny ones you can hardly see.”

The young girl remembered her mother’s lesson, which helped her throughout life to see the importance of even small duties we’re asked to perform. (Found in Brian Cavanaugh’s “Sower’s Seeds of Encouragement: Fifth Planting.”)

For my grandma, there were no small — unimportant — people in the world. She was always leery of those who presented themselves as “high tone,” or better than others. Because she was so simple herself — she couldn’t read or write — she had a special place in her heart for people who were often overlooked or taken for granted. Grandma believed it took everyone to make the world run smoothly.

It’s a lesson she passed on to my mom, who is never shy about chatting with the checkout clerk or bagger, smiling at fellow diners at restaurants or complimenting the parish choir members.

In Mom’s mind, everyone counts. She believes that this attitude — along with being a “junk food junkie” — has gotten her through life.

But the main reason for her longevity and demeanor, she insists, is found in her room, where a large crucifix hangs on the wall.

“It’s God,” she says. “He’s so good and gives me strength.”

I attribute my propensity for laughter, my talkative nature, my comfort with the “un-high-tone” — and my faith — to this special woman I’m privileged to call Mom. With Mother’s Day this weekend, let’s all reflect a bit on the influence of our real moms, as well as all of those who are our moms by adoption.

One of the best ways we can honor them is by prayer. Here’s one of my favorites:

“God, our creator, we pray:

“For new mothers, coming to terms with new responsibilities; for expectant mothers, wondering and waiting; for those who are tired, stressed or depressed; for those who struggle to balance the tasks of work and family; for those who are unable to feed their children due to poverty; for those whose children have physical, mental or emotional disabilities; for those who have children they do not want; for those who raise children on their own; for those who have lost a child; for those who care for the children of others; for those whose children have left home; and for those whose desire to be a mother has not been fulfilled.

“Bless all moms, that their love may be deep and tender, and that they may lead their children to know and do what is good, living not for themselves alone, but for God and for others. Amen.”

Now, go and give your mom a high five!

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