Columnists Mark my words

The first 100 are the hardest

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

Here’s the conversation that my mom and I had this past Palm Sunday, as we were driving to get something to eat:

Me: Hey, Mom, next Sunday is Easter and it’s April 1.

Mom: It’s April?!? My birthday’s in April!

Me: That’s right. What day?

Mom: April 12.

Me: You got it. Now, how old will you be?

Mom: 90? (I shake my head.) 100?!.

Me: Yup, you’ll be 100!

Mom: Don’t tell anybody!

Well, as much as I like to be obedient, that last request came a bit too late. I didn’t say anything at the time, but I was thinking: “Oops!”

This past Sunday, my parish marked Mom’s birthday in song at the end of Mass and then hosted a cake and punch reception. She was overcome with tears — happy ones — and gratitude for the good folks at Sacred Heart.

A lot happened in 1918, the year Mom was born:

  • The first recorded case of the Spanish flu was reported at Funston Army Camp in Kansas; it went on to kill 50-100 million worldwide.
  • The Bolshevik Party became the Communist Party.
  • “The Red Baron” was shot down and killed.
  • World War I officially came to a close.
  • Benedict XV was the pope and John Ward was the bishop of the Diocese of Leavenworth.

The changes that my mom has seen in her lifetime are staggering. I’ve given up trying to explain all the new technology to her and just tell her, for example, that all my iPhone does is due to “magic.”

The definite highlight of her week is coming to Sunday Mass. It does her heart good to see a full church and she loves to give the kids a low-five. If the kids are too gentle, she says, “Oh, c’mon, you can do better than that!”

And they do, smacking Mom’s hand, much to the dismay of their parents. Mom soothes the parents’ fears by saying, “I told them to do that!” She wears her reddened palm as a badge of honor.

Although she never eats much afterwards at the restaurant, she loves to take in the atmosphere. She marvels at how full it is and wonders if anybody eats at home anymore.

And she never fails to say, “Who would think I’d see all this? If you asked me what a restaurant was when I was growing up, I couldn’t tell you!”

How true. With six brothers and a sister, there was no extra money to go out to eat.

That’s probably why Mom says she’s so “partickly” (“particular”) when it comes to food. Mom’s diet consists of nothing green, no cheese, no gravy, no condiments, no pizza — and definitely no food touching any other food on the plate.

Her menu mainly consists of eggs, bread, meat, chocolate, chicken fingers and fries, and pop. Lots of pop . . . and lots of chocolate.

My mom’s secrets to longevity are really not that hard to guess.

First, she’s grateful, especially for all of the wonderful people who have been a part of her life. She’s had a close family, wonderful neighbors and caring friends too numerous to count.

Secondly, she’s kept a great sense of humor, which helps her to adapt to changing situations, especially as she’s gotten older.

Thirdly, she’s known to break out in song, ending with a hearty “Woohoohoo!”

Fourth, she’s terribly proud of her Croatian heritage and home parish of St. John the Baptist in Kansas City, Kansas. She still feels the prayerful support and love of parishioners on the Hill.

Most importantly, she proclaims, “There is a God!” to explain all of the blessings she’s experienced. In her room, she’s surrounded by a cross, an icon and a host of angel figurines.

Her faith remains her anchor and most prized possession.

I feel very blessed to have had this “Energizer Bunny” for a mom these many years!

And in case you’re wondering how old I am, I’ll give you a hint: Mom had me when she was 75. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)

About the author

Fr. Mark Goldasich

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