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Mt. Constitution

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Everyone Writes Winner!

I mentioned writing a little piece for Everyone Writes! - a contest sponsored by our local libraries in an earlier blog post on November 11.  I started writing the piece on the anniversary of my mom's death and finished it in time to meet the deadline on November 22nd.  I had no illusions of winning the contest, but felt compelled to write as a way to honor my Mom and the way she lived her life.   The Library Board honored we three writers tonight prior to the Community Pride Awards Program.
Misty Rego and Debra Allen both work for local libraries.  Misty is working on her PhD and Debra, a former teacher, is a freelance writer and poet.  I gelt quite honored to be in such good company.
I received a $50 Amazon gift card for my efforts!  Thinking about ordering John Stockton's autobiography….

These community leaders were honored for their positive spirit and contributions to the communities of Clarkston and Asotin.  Among the winners, Fred Dole, Wes Clizer, Linda Peterson, and Dan Cease.
Fred, for his contribution to the Music Program at CHS, Wes for volunteering for the Rotary Club and Holy Family School, Linda for picking up trash everyday all around Asotin, and Dan Cease for organizing a Community Garden and donating over 3 tons of fresh produce to the Asotin County Food Bank!  Congratulations to all!

I've included my essay, if you'd like to have a read….


I read these words as I began my morning prayer today.  The words pierced my heart as I realized today is the eighth anniversary of my mother’s death. 

My Mom died eight years ago today, instantly of a broken neck.  An impatient driver passed a semi in the fog near Winchester and hit her car head-on.   I never got tell her good-bye.  I still wonder if she suffered and if she had time to pray when she saw the truck coming toward her. Surely she prayed the Rosary because that’s what Mom and Dad always did every time they left Cottonwood.  She may have finished praying,  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give you my heart and my soul;  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me in my last agony; 
 Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, may I die in your blessed arms” as she realized the truck was headed toward her.  

So after praying the Rosary and the aspiration almost 50,000 times in her life, why would not Jesus answer that prayer?    What was her agony?  What was she thinking as she headed into the heavy fog?  My Mom’s life exhibited kindness toward all, especially those in need.  After a bout with rheumatic fever in 1958 she vowed she would do a “lifetime of charity” because so many people helped maintain her home and care for her eight children during her illness and recovery.  Did my Mom die realizing she accomplished the vow made in 1958?

When my brother found the will and I became the Executor of her estate I wondered how I would honor my Mom’s life, learn from her example, and bear witness to her integrity.  The day after Mom died I took a call from the driver’s insurance agent offering condolences, but also suggesting a quick settlement.  I wanted to say, please leave me alone, but instead I silently prayed,  “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me in being kind to people who are just doing their job.” 

I really did not like my new title, Executor!  I had to pay the bills, deposit the memorial money, keep in touch with my eight siblings, and meet with the attorney.  Sometimes the emotion of her death overwhelmed me and I felt paralyzed to make even simple decisions.  I waited a long time before I paid the first bill!  The collection letters started to arrive and I wanted to say, “good grief, you can wait a few weeks…don’t you know my Mom just died??  “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me in the agony of settling this estate. ”

My brother helped me find an attorney to settle the estate, but I had to meet with him alone.  The attorney informed me of my duties as the Executor, told me he would file the necessary paperwork, encouraged me to bring important papers to his office, and suggested that we hire a team to evaluate the personal belongings.  He also informed me that I must represent my brothers and sisters in the lawsuit to sue the driver that killed my mother.  What lawsuit?  “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, give me the spirit of my Mother’s heart and soul.” 

My Mom did not carry grudges, harbor resentments, or judge others.  She raised 10 children, cared for an alcoholic cousin, baked cookies and cinnamon rolls for the homebound, and attacked weeds in the flower beds of elderly relatives.  What good could come from a lawsuit?  It would not bring my mother back.  I imagined a long year of frustration and pain as the attorney gathered information and sought out witnesses of the accident.  A woman, who came upon the accident, called me and told me she held my Mom’s head and prayed for her as the police and paramedics arrived on the scene.  She became the visible arms of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.  I could not fathom, that because of her compassionate gesture, she might be called to testify against the driver.  My sister had already sent a note to the driver stating that our family’s attitude was one of forgiveness, not legal justice.

It took months to convince the attorney and the court-appointed advocate that our family had no intention of pursuing a lawsuit or being represented at the driver’s day in court.   The driver’s public notice in the local newspaper made visible the power of my mother’s charitable heart and the healing act of forgiveness with his words, “Although Bertha’s family forgave me of this tragic mishap, I will forever have nightmares and regrets of this event for the rest of my life.” When I read the notice I could pray, not for myself, but as my mother would have,  “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist the driver with his last agony.” 

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