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Mary, my mother

13 January, 2011

Lisa Gurney is a writer in Worcester, Massachusetts, USA.  She wants to share as widely as possible, how Mary helped the lost little girl and the suffering adult. I am not sure at what age I realized I didn’t have a healthy and nurturing mother.  Even before I was old enough to compare our relationship to […]

Lisa Gurney is a writer in Worcester, Massachusetts, USA.  She wants to share as widely as possible, how Mary helped the lost little girl and the suffering adult.

I am not sure at what age I realized I didn’t have a healthy and nurturing mother.  Even before I was old enough to compare our relationship to that of other mothers and daughters, I knew only that I felt a loneliness and fear that had no tangible source.  As I grew and witnessed mothers interacting with their children, saw the sparkle of joy in parents’ eyes when they beheld them, or the devotion they had to them, what was missing in my life became evident – a mother who felt the same way about me.

It wasn’t until after my father died when I was eight years old that the affects became more profound.  And I certainly felt it greatly in my teens when I needed so much to have at least one parent present to guide me.  I remember feeling utterly desolate and a great sense of fear and despair settled upon me.

It was during this time that I had an epiphany.  Some might say it was simply the human instinct to survive showing me a way to safety.  Others, divine intervention.  I believe it was the latter.

Raised in a Catholic family and having attended Catholic school since the age of five, I was keenly aware and in awe of the Mother of Christ.  I often recited the Rosary and held my beads entwined through my fingers at night.  She was the epitome of mothers, completely devoted to Her Son, by His side every moment of His life and through His death…and after.  And so I thought, “Couldn’t Mary be my mother too?” 

I had been taught in school and church that She was “Mother to us all,” but I needed Her in a more personal and distinct way.   If I asked Her, would she calm the place in me that was swimming in fear, and fill the space that was lost in abandonment?  I did ask and found that Our Most Holy of Mothers had been waiting for me through all of my sadness and despair. 

From that moment forward, I began to talk to Our Mother Mary as if she were my very own mother.  If I felt alone or unprotected, I would imagine Her sitting or walking beside me, holding my hand, fingering stray wisps of hair out of my eyes.  When I had questions or problems Her actual voice could not answer, I knew I would survive whatever the outcome because She was protecting me as soundly and ferociously as a grizzly bear protects her cub. 

The Virgin Mother became the blanket that wrapped me in love and safety at night, and the Woman who greeted me with pride in her eyes every morning.  For the first time in my entire life, I felt as a child should – cherished.  I believe with certainly it was Mother Mary who kept me from falling into what could have been a much more difficult and dangerous life.  I remember thanking Jesus often for sharing his beautiful Mother with me.

Most recently, my mother has been diagnosed with dementia and has come to live with my husband and me.  And though I understand now that she was shaped by her own insecurities and deeply troubled childhood, painful feelings sometimes creep up and threaten me.  There have been moments during her care when I internally beg for a “thank you” or an “I love you” from her, or times when she speaks to me so terribly that it seems more than just part of her illness.  And I find myself again reaching to the Virgin Mother, asking Her for comfort and protection, needing Her embrace more than ever before, and finding Her arms as wide open as they were when I was a child.


In 2007, Lisa Gurney quit her Fortune 500 job to pursue her dream of writing full time. Since then, her fiction and essays have been published both in print and online in the United States and Canada. She is the recipient of the 2007 National PRNDI Award for Commentary for her essay “A Witness to Violence.”  Lisa resides in Worcester, MA and welcomes comments at [email protected].

 

 

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