Why I Walk – Faith of My Mother
I have always loved the song “Faith of our Fathers.” I have fond memories of my father singing this in his rich baritone voice and my mother playing it on the piano. “Faith of our fathers, holy faith, We will be true to Thee till death.” Children often learn about faith from their mothers. My mother taught her eight children many prayers, she read stories from the Bible and taught us how to behave in church. People often commented on how well behaved my siblings were in church, being so young. There were never any threats, we knew we should be reverent in the house of God. We had many books of saints and our grandmother gave us a subscription to a religious magazine for children.
Through her example and her daily prayers for her children, we were blessed as a family. Her children never questioned, “Do I have to go to church?” My father’s role was breadwinner; often he was tired or in pain. My mom had never learned to drive and was not shy about seeking transportation for us for Sunday services.
My sister, Betty drowned at the age of 19 trying to rescue two teenage boys in the lake where my parents lived. Mom proudly told people she had eight children and “one is in heaven.”
When my father passed away at the age of 61 from COPD, I became her designated driver to church on Sundays. Since my husband was a choir director at a different church (same religion), she willingly went to my church. For several years, she had friends who needed a ride to church. This was never a problem because mom asked and I knew how much it meant to her and her friends to be able to go.
One day I saw my mother mailing money to the church she had gone to when my father was alive. She had not been there in fifteen years. When asked about this she replied: “That’s my church, which is where my funeral has to be.” She had no concept that she could become a member of the church she had attended for fifteen years. She loved the clergy at our church. The pastor had changed several times at the other church and many of those friends had died or moved away. This was the first indicator for me that she was making poor judgment. She had been sending money to a church weekly that she had not attended in fifteen years.
Gradually, there were more indicators. Mom never offered money for gas during the many years I drove her to church. One day she stated she was going to give a little something extra for picking up her medication. The medicine was $40.00; she wrote the check for $400.00. I could not get her to understand this was wrong. A week later, she realized that she had written the check for too much.
Not long after that Mom said she was bored, nothing she wanted to see on TV. I thought about how much mom loved to go to Mass every opportunity she could. We added a religious channel, now she could watch mass twice daily and hear various prayers throughout the day. Her children soon learned not to call when these shows were on.
Mom no longer remembers she has a daughter in heaven; nor does she want to go to the cemetery. Fifty percent of the time she will get her children’s names right. She cannot remember her grandchildren’s names, or who their parents are.
The one thing that has not left her is her spirituality. She loves being in church, she smiles at people she recognizes, somewhat. Little children come to hug her and shake her hand during the service. Most importantly, she loves to receive communion. She has such an awesome loving, reverent look.
For many years, Mom would be outside waiting for me to pick her up for church. It has become increasingly difficult to get her cleaned, dressed, get her into the SUV and to church on time on Sundays. Several siblings tell me just let her watch the Mass on TV. This is the highlight of her week, as it has been her entire life. The faith of my mother, my aunts and relatives that have died of Alzheimer’s still lived on even when they could no longer speak. This will be the hardest thing for me when she can no longer go to church with me. I will forever miss my mother’s amazing faith and love.