By Deacon Bob Glaser
My first memory revolves around my mother’s prayers. If I close my eyes, I am back to that time. I am in Mom and Dad’s bedroom, a cramped little room on the first floor of our house on the edge of a farmer’s cornfield in rural Illinois. It is summer time and it is storming.
The clouds are dark green and black; the rain pounds the windows. Wind pushes the corn stalks back and forth. My dad is at work and my brother and sisters, all considerably older than me, are elsewhere; I am home alone with Mom. The house has no cellar, so we are in her bedroom.
I can be no more than 4 or 5. I have wedged myself between the bed and the old cast iron radiator. I am just tall enough to look over the radiator and peak out the window. I remember looking at the sky over the field and seeing shiny metal twirling above the corn.
“Mom, there is tinfoil in the sky,” I can hear myself saying, but all I hear back from my mother are the following words, “Hail Mary full of grace. …” Mom is on the opposite side of the bed kneeling in front of her dresser. On the dresser is a worn statue of the Blessed Mother. “The Lord is with thee. …” I turn my attention back to the window, and I see much more debris blowing this way and that in the sky outside the window.
“Blessed art though among women…” my mother continues. I can feel the coldness of the cast iron against the heat of the day. I can see the window vibrate as the rain is driven against it by the wind. “And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. …” Those words would be repeated over and over again that day as the storm raged.
That night when my father came home on the train from the city, he walked out into the field. He found a wide path where the corn had been uprooted. “Holy Mary, Mother of God. …” That path was headed directly for the window where I had stood and looked out at what I thought was tinfoil floating in the air, and where my mother knelt in front of the statue of Mary.
“Pray for us sinners. …” About a hundred feet from that window, the path took a sharp turn and went another direction. My mother and I were saved from the fury of that tornado. “Now, and at the hour of our death. …”
While I can play this scene in my head over and over by closing my eyes and bringing it to mind, the significance of my mother’s devotion to prayer has taken a lifetime to comprehend and understand. Throughout my life I have memories of my mother in that bedroom, with her rosary in her hands praying before that statue.
The family legend is that the statue came with my mother’s family when they immigrated to the United States from Austria-Hungary. She was about a year old when they came across the ocean. Whenever there was a need in our family, mom would take it to prayer, most often in front of that statue, seeking Mary’s intercession. As someone who was a teenager in the ‘60s, as someone who enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam War, as someone who worked in law enforcement for three decades, I know that my mother’s prayers for my protection and safety have been a shield. I know, too, that my strong marriage of nearly 45 years, and a wonderful family of my own, is also an answer to my mother’s prayers.
Mom has been gone from this world for more than a quarter century, but I believe she looks down on us and still sees our needs. So, Mom, please continue to lift up your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in prayer. “Amen…”
(Deacon Bob Glaser serves at Divine Mercy Parish in Burlington-West Burlington and St. Mary Parish in Dodgeville.)