Spirit Matters: Mothers’ love and guidance timeless and enduring

Note: This column in honor of all those who mother - whether it be children (their own or others’), animals, gardens, or any other part of creation - was first published in 2020, just a few months after the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic. It is as fitting now as it was then. May all those who “mother” any living being be blessed this Sunday, and every day.

This Sunday, as the nation celebrates Mother’s Day, many of us honor our own mothers and grandmothers, not to mention aunts, influential teachers, friends and the countless other women who have “mothered” us in some way.

I like to think that although my maternal grandmother has been gone since 2014 and my dad’s sister - my Aunt Mary, more than a decade – that they are still spiritually near as I look to them for their wisdom and prayers, things which we take with us into eternity.

As a matter of fact, this Mother’s Day is a good opportunity to reflect on my maternal grandmother, Loretta, who lived until the ripe old age of 98.

Everyone in our family considers Grandma a saint, even though she will likely never be canonized. She devoted her life to her family, working hard to raise seven children through the 40s, 50s and 60s – and then to being a source of equanimity and gentleness, oh, and MUCH patient tolerance – when her 17 grandchildren came along, followed by numerous great grandchildren.

Her faith and her solid upbringing were the rocks upon which Grandma built her life. And, she often consulted with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, in times of prosperity and times of trouble, as she faithfully prayed the rosary. Her quiet devotion to that prayer modeled for me a desire to know and love the Mother of Jesus as well, and to turn to her for guidance, protection, intercession and prayers during all the ups and downs of my life.

And Mary has never disappointed me. She has been *the* primary person to lead me into the heart of Christ.

Motherhood seemed to come naturally to Grandma. She knew what her children needed when it came to nutrition, healthcare, schooling, chores and discipline. And she provided a legacy that will last long into the future as her grandchildren and great grandchildren pass the values they learned from her onto their descendants.

I suppose this is a good place to say that Grandma was raised by her father and her Aunt Nellie.

You see, Grandma’s mother, Rose, and her baby brother were victims of the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic that ravaged the country.

Grandma was only two years old.

As I said, she had a solid upbringing, and yet, for her entire life, she longed to know her mother’s touch, her mother’s love, her mother’s embrace.

Now, in the early 21st Century, we again are witnessing families being torn apart for the rest of this lifetime as some young mothers and fathers lose their battle with the Coronavirus.

Fortunately for the rest of us, Grandma enjoyed researching genealogy, and she had a large collection of photos of family members from when she was a child and even before then.

One of those black-and-white photos, which sets on my nightstand, is an image of my grandma’s parents, Charles and Rose, sitting in a summery yard, before they were married.

This photo has long been one of my favorites, and from the time I first saw it, I could see the deep purity of heart and gentleness with which they loved each other.

Even though the photo has been on my nightstand for years, and it is easy to fade into the background, I still remember from time to time to look at it and spend a moment or two speaking from my heart to the heart of Great-Grandma Rose, and asking her to continue to mother each of our family members from her place in heaven.

I have no doubt that she has done that, because if I know Grandma Loretta, she spent her lifetime asking her biological mother to guide her, influence her, love her and pray for her from her place in heaven.

And the magical thing about motherhood is it is a lineage that goes back to the beginning of human history, and continues through all those who give birth to their own children, or adopt and raise children, or foster children, or act as an aunt and so on down through the ages.

A mother might not be physically present, but her influence never ends, and for those of us lucky to have mothers in our lives like my Grandma Loretta, and Great-Grandma Rose, that is truly a gift to celebrate this Mother’s Day Weekend.

SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines spirituality. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at jzblue33@yahoo.com to share how you engage your spirit in your life and in your community.