The delicious smells emanating from her kitchen made your hungry stomach rumble in anticipation of a scrumptious meal. Appetizers of every variety would be lovingly displayed on the center island accompanied by matching napkins and serving plates. She would have anticipated every person’s drink preference – the beautiful bottles of wine and spirits would be displayed on the side counter with sparkly, crystal glasses ready for your choice of vino. It could be a holiday meal or just a large family dinner – either way, she made every gathering wonderfully memorable.
As the 3 year anniversary of my beautiful mom’s passing approached (September 9, 2019) I found myself reflecting on a special memory which captured the real Joanie. This vivid and beautiful picture kept coming into my mind and I wondered why it was so powerful. Then one recent morning at Mass, I heard a reading from Luke and the memory suddenly made sense to me. Despite my knowledge or understanding, mom continues to teach me from her heavenly home.
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”Luke 14:11
Our family gathered around the big dining room table in my parent’s East Sandwich, Cape Cod home where we had relished many incredible meals, conversations and milestones. We were enjoying a festive supper together with the whole family in attendance. The guys and children had been seated first and the women were in the kitchen with mom, encouraging her to sit down before the grace began. As the women took the remaining seats – all tightly packed in – I looked down toward the end of the table which was closest to the kitchen. There in the corner, literally, was mom who had placed her chair in the smallest spot available. She was smiling brightly as she took the hand of her son and son-in-law to pray. I watched her during the prayer – she was quiet and at peace, complete joy radiated from her soul. The memory ends with my eyes gazing at the face of my beloved mom.
English essayist, poet and writer G.K. Chesterton said “It is always the secure who are humble.” My confident, loving and devout mom was reminding me to remain humble in light of recent struggles with back pain. This powerful memory of her sitting in the tiny spot at the end of the table flooded my mind and filled my heart with an indescribable joy. It reminded me that mom was happiest when she was taking the last seat thereby lifting others up in love. She naturally achieved this through a deep faith in God which was the thread that stitched our great family together. Her heroic example taught us how to live and put others above self – choosing to do so with joy.
It’s curious how our memories can sometimes help us understand reality. Being humble is not just about putting others before self and taking the last seat. Humility involves a willingness to admit that you don’t have all the answers and are ready to listen to new perspectives. Humble people are wise, thoughtful and able to admit mistakes. My attitude toward new back treatments has been poor lately and thus I have failed to experience any relief from the pain. I suppose my mom saw this and decided to intervene – thus the memory! But I think we can all find more joy each day by walking in her footsteps of love and humility.
Happy 3 years in heaven Momma! We love you deeply and miss you more each day.