Columnists Mark my words

Dial M for Mother

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

I’m relieved to be writing this column from the safety of my home office, away from those watchful eyes in the kitchen. The “watchful eyes” belong to a photo of my mom looking at me from a bookcase shelf.

Although it will be five years next month since she died, I can still hear her warning voice, “Don’t you dare write about me in the paper!” Sorry, Mom, it’s Mother’s Day on Sunday and all bets are off.

The older I get, the more I find myself quoting things my mom said. I use one phrase so frequently that my parish staff and friends have begun using it, too. The words are “high tone” and meant “something fancy” to my mom. For example, she’d order an elaborate dessert and when it was placed before her, she’d coo, “Oh, isn’t that high tone”?

In fact, when Mom died, I picked out a simple wooden casket crafted by the Trappist monks in New Melleray Abbey in Peosta, Iowa. It suited her and, while beautiful, was definitely not “high tone.”

Every Mother’s Day, I reread this little story with a smile:

It was the start of a new religious ed year at the parish and a little girl was going to recite a Scripture passage that she’d memorized for the occasion. When she got to the front and saw hundreds of eyes staring at her, every line that she’d rehearsed faded from her mind and she stood there unable to utter even a single word.

Her mother, seated in the front row, hurt for her daughter. The mom gestured and moved her lips, trying to mouth the words to her child — all to no avail.

Finally, in desperation, the mother whispered the opening phrase of the Scripture passage: “I am the light of the world.”

Immediately, the girl’s face lit up, she smiled and said with supreme confidence, “My mother is the light of the world!”

The congregation burst into laughter but afterwards reflected that the little girl’s words were not wrong, for to her children, a good mother really is the light of the world. (Adapted from a story in “Illustrations Unlimited,” edited by James S. Hewett.)

Even though my mom would probably agree with that story, she’d want me to move on, lest this column get too “mushy.”

So, to balance things out, here are a couple more mom stories of a lighter nature from “Illustrations Unlimited”:

• A little boy was talking to the girl next door and said, “I wonder what my mother would want for Mother’s Day.”

The girl replied, “Well, you could promise to keep your room clean and orderly. You could brush your teeth after eating. You could come right away when she calls you. You could stop fighting with your brothers and sisters.”

The boy shook his head and said, “No, no! I mean something practical!”

• After dinner on Mother’s Day, a mom was washing the dishes when her teenage daughter wandered into the kitchen. Horrified to see her mother at the sink, she exclaimed, “Oh, Mama, you shouldn’t have to do dishes on Mother’s Day!”

The mother, touched by her daughter’s thoughtfulness, was about to take off her apron and hand it to her, when the daughter added, “They’ll keep till tomorrow.”

If you are so fortunate as to still have your mother, pamper her on her special day, especially with something “high tone.” If your mom has passed away, remember her in prayer and maybe take some flowers to her grave. Let’s strive to honor these “lights of the world” by keeping alive their example.

And, Mom, I love you! You always practiced what I preach!

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Fr. Mark Goldasich

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