My grandmother has been gone almost 30 years, and my mother died 5 years ago, so Mother’s Day is a moot point for me for the most part. Sure, I’m grateful for my mother, my grandmother, and all the “mothers” who’ve nurtured and supported and loved me through my life. It’s a weird feeling to be orphaned, regardless of one’s age…not having parents means the mantle has passed to me, as the eldest of my generation, to pick up where they left off. I’m not ready. I’m not old enough. I’m not competent to be an elder in anyone’s family….and yet, here I am.
I’ve been through some crazy, sick, abusive, violent and terrifying things in my life, starting very young and continuing through the death of my son, an alcoholic spouse, my own drug addiction, and the sexual assault and battery I suffered at the hands of law enforcement in their failed sting operation. Fortunately for me, I was already clean and sober, so they got nothing for all their surveillance, compromised informants, tailing and eavesdropping.
In the aftermath of my father’s death last December, I came into possession of my baby book, which contains several letters written to me by my mother. The one that struck me and made me cry was dated the day of my baptism at St. Mary’s Church in Appleton, Wisconsin. My mother writes that immediately after the baptism, she took me over to Mary’s altar and dedicated me to her maternal care, believing in her heart that even if she (my mother) couldn’t protect me from the pain of life, certainly the Blessed Virgin could and would.
I’ve always had an attachment to the Virgin Mary, and during the worst of my childhood abuse, it was to her altar I fled after school and on Saturday mornings at another St. Mary’s Church, this one in Oshkosh. She got me through the abuse and the terror. She was there to hold me in her mantle during the difficult marriage that alcohol ruined. She pressed me to her heart when my son, Chris, was killed–she knows a little something about losing a Son. She was there for me in rehab, and through the tumultuous recovery of 2016. Last, but not least, she continued to shield me from injustice and lying lips when the DEA sting operation failed and, despite the slanderous lies the Fort Wayne Police Department told my family, she kept me from hopelessness and despair. It seems clear: my own mother’s earnest prayer of dedication on that cold March day in 1957 has continuously been heard by my other Mother.
So, long story short, this mother’s day I am grateful to my mother, Ruth Ann, not only for her courage during a difficult marriage and her best attempts to raise me to be a good son, but most of all for giving me to the Blessed Virgin Mary, my Mother, who has unfailingly protected me from evil, sometimes even from myself.