My parents’ love is golden because of their faith in our loving God. My mom and dad taught me two important things - 1) to keep Christ in the center of your life and 2) to not take your health for granted.
Life has not always been easy for my mom and dad but the one thing that they have in common is that they love and trust God with all their hearts, with all their souls, with all their minds and with all their strength. They taught this from the moment I was born, having me, their first born, baptized and raised in the Catholic faith. They sacrificed a lot, sheltered me (overly sheltered but I’m grateful nevertheless), and shared their talents especially their love for high quality good food. Through thick and thin God has always directed them. In the last two decades they have made prayer a constant in their lives especially with their nightly Rosary recitation. They taught me the power of the Rosary.
Recently, I recounted a story to a seminarian that happened in 1997. I remember my dad calling me during the day. I was a junior at the College of William and Mary and I was busy pouring through my textbooks preparing for exams. But I’ll never forget the shock that I got on the phone with my dad. He had the most melancholic, exhausted voice I’d ever heard which led me to believe that something terrible had just happened. So I listened and waited. He explained that my mom didn’t have carpal tunnel surgery rather she underwent a very dangerous surgery to remove three large benign tumors on her spinal cord. He finally said, “Your mother is resting…” and in my head I completed the sentence with “in peace.” I couldn’t stop crying and so I said, “Dad, I have to go!” The tears kept falling uncontrollably and the weeping disturbed my hall mates in the dormitory. But I just didn’t have the strength to answer anyone’s questions. How do you begin to talk about the loss of a loved one especially if it’s never happened to you before? After a long while I remembered that my mom had given me a simple wooden Rosary with instructions on how to pray it. I had never prayed the Rosary on my own before. It was so foreign to me. But I felt in my heart that it was necessary to do. So I began the prayer kneeling by the side of my bed still crying incessantly. By the time I got to the third mystery a calmness swept through my whole body and the tears were wiped cleaned. I knew then that everything was going to be okay. I knew that the mother of Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, was with me and took pity on me. The next day I talked to my dad and then I realized that my mom was indeed alive and recovering. That day I ran into a friend at the University Center. I remembered that he was from Hampton Roads. I asked him if he knew where Chesapeake General was and he said, “My parents work there.” He kindly gave me a lift so I could visit my dear mom. I remember feeling gratitude that day for my friend who was able to take me to the hospital, for my mom’s life and most especially for God’s love and help. Years later I became godmother to my friend’s two oldest children. God’s love is truly amazing.
My mom’s surgery made me realize how fragile we really are and it most definitely instigated my quest to learn the truth about food and nutrition. Most importantly the experience brought me closer to Our Lord. My dad once promised me, “I will live as long as possible.” That’s how much he values his own life and life itself. For my mom and dad life is so precious. Every day I teach my son that we must value life from conception to natural death. I remind him often that we must never take anything for granted. We must never take people for granted. And that we must never ever take God for granted.
Today, as they celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, I want to thank my mom and dad for all their love and support! Congratulations mom and dad! We love you!