by Sr. Hope Therese, O.Carm
My mom became a mother for the first time on January 25th, 1985 when my sister Melissa was born. She became a mom for the second time on January 13th, 1987 when I was born. When we were born my mom consecrated us both to God and accepted that no matter where we went we would be doing his will. After my sister was born, my mom left her job as a social worker to spend more time with us. When I was four we all moved from New Jersey to New York. This was when my mom felt called to return to the Catholic church of her youth. She brought my sister and me with her and raised us very well in the Catholic faith. In fact one year she taught my CCD class at church. Mom was always there when we needed her, but she always kept busy. She did work for the church, started her own quilt business and founded the upstate New York chapter of the Quilts of Valor foundation that distributes quilts to wounded soldiers, and numerous volunteer projects. Not to mention she was also part time farm hand, cook, housekeeper, handywoman, chauffer, and nurse to her children. I still don’t know how she did and still does it all. It must be God’s grace! Once when I was about four or five I remember my mom sleeping in my room with her knees on the floor and her head on my bed. When I asked her about it when I was much older she said she was surprised I remembered that and that was when I had a chest infection. Mom got my sister and I involved in 4H. She was the leader of our 4H craft group that met at our house every week. She also helped my sister and I raise rabbits and chickens for 4H. Mom was always tough but fair and kind but just. I can remember many time outs on the stairs for my bad behavior. If we threw a tantrum because we couldn’t get something in the grocery store we would leave the store immediately. The cart full of groceries would be left in the isle. If we behaved we got a box of animal crackers. My mom volunteered to go on many field trips when we were in school. My classmates were always asking, “Why is your mom so nice?” I’d say “That’s just the way she is.” My mom was my health care advocate and provider when was I growing up. When I had to receive growth hormone shots every day for seven years I think she was more upset than I was. It didn’t help that she was the one who had to give them to me. One day, several years ago, when my mom had a dentist appointment she had a lapse of memory and somehow ended up at our local middle school. My sister poked her head out of her classroom and said, “Mom, what are you doing here?” My mom looked up and said “Just checking!” We still laugh about that, but my sister and I rarely got into any trouble growing up knowing that Mom could always be just checking! A few years ago when I was in college and my sister had moved out my mom found a little plastic Barbie shoe when she was cleaning where my sister and I used to play. It made her a little emotional remembering when her babies were little. When my sister called her that day, all my mom could get out at first was, “Barbie shoe!” Thankfully when I called later that day she was much calmer and related the whole story to me. The women in our family now call any emotional moment a “Barbie shoe moment!” A couple years after I graduated college Mom was diagnosed with stage 3, aggressive and resistive breast cancer. Mom made the cancer as little about her as possible and made it her mission to support other patients at support groups and with her beautiful handmade quilts and quilted angels. She still makes and delivers quilts to the cancer treatment center where she used to go for the patients there. Is it any wonder all of her friends and family were relieved that she made it through? On January 18th, 2012 my mom became grandma for the first time to my sister’s son Jacob. She now looks after Jacob twice a week and I have every confidence she is as good of a grandmother as she is a mother. No parent is perfect, but I truly believe she comes as close to it as possible. I know she does her best and gives it her all. My Mom’s faith, hope, and love have been an inspiration to me my entire life and still are. It was a heavy cross to leave her, but her courage and guidance gave me the strength to stand on own and build up my faith life. She is truly an example of the Blessed Virgin Mary incarnate and having someone like her as a mother is one of the biggest blessings anyone could receive. If you have met her I don’t have to tell you how great she is! She now calls herself “Mamma Jo” and is well known and loved among her adopted daughters, the Carmelites Sisters! I know she will read this, so, Mom I love you so very much! I cannot thank you or repay you enough for everything you have done and still do! Happy Mother’s Day! I’m sorry for giving you another Barbie shoe moment!