Momís Generation

Parish Diary

Fr. Peter Daly

January 25, 2005

 

††††††††††† Christmas Eve my mother, Edith Daly, had a stroke.

So far she is recovering well. Thanks to the good care of my sisters. However, at age 84, any recovery is hard. We know realistically that our time with her is limited.

††††††††††† I got the call informing me of that she had been taken to the hospital just a few minutes before Christmas midnight mass. Needless to say I was distracted and worried all through the liturgy,

I wondered if I would get a chance to see her again. Would I have a chance to tell her that I love her, admire her and thank her? God answered my prayer. I did tell her all those things.

But I also want to tell the world what a remarkable person my mother is.

††††††††††† Mom was born in 1920, the year that U. S. women got the vote.

††††††††††† Mom has always been smart. In elementary school she skipped a grade. She and her older sister Dorothy were the first ones in their family to go to college. Mom graduated from college at the age of 20.

††††††††††† For a while she taught art in the schools in southern Delaware. At the time the schools were segregated. In the white schools, she was given art supplies by the school board. In the black schools, she had to buy the art supplies out of her own meager salary of $15 per week. She didnít hesitate. She thought it was her duty. Her experience in those segregated times gave her a keen sense of justice and a hatred of racial prejudice and injustice.

††††††††††† Mom always has valued education. In a time when many women didnít even finish high school, she not only went to college, but went on to get two Masterís Degrees. The first one she got on an academic scholarship. The second one she earned on the G.I. Bill, after World War II.

Early in the war her boyfriend was killed. She did not consider that sadness exempted her from service. Even though there was no draft for women, she volunteered for the Womenís Army Corps. She rose to the rank of Master Sergeant.

After the war she wanted to study both drama and religion. There was a great religious awakening going on in the world. So she went off to the newly formed drama department at Catholic University in Washington. There she could persue both her interests.

The drama department was alive with excitement under the leadership of a young Dominican priest, Fr. Gilbert Hartke. My mother was one of his early protťgťs in that famous department.

Mom was not only an actress, she was a scene designer. She designed sets and built them. Even years later Mom was always better with a hammer and nails than my Dad.

At Catholic U., she met my father, Bob. He was also an ex-army sergeant, fresh from combat in the Pacific, going to college at the age of 30 on the G.I. Bill.

They started their family in a basement apartment in Washington, D.C. It had no hot water and no kitchen sink. It was the ďbaby boom.Ē

Inspired by their friends and the Christian Family Movement they had eight children in 15 years. They never thought it extraordinary or a sacrifice.

I never heard my Mom complain about pregnancy or children. She told us she always wanted exactly eight children, which made us all know that we were wanted and loved.

Mom always does more than the minimum. My memory of her as a young mother was someone who was always working. When she finished her own work she took on othersí work. She always volunteered at church, school, and in the community. That is what people like her did.

She never took her blessings for granted. In whole adult life she has never missed mass except when she was in the hospital. She never goes to bed or gets up without praying. She never eats a meat without giving thanks to God for the gift.

Above all she never stops studying. By her bed, even today is a stack of books. She subscribes to piles of serious magazines.

She has always sought the face of God. For her she has seen God in children, family, art, study, wisdom and community. Above all she has sought God in love. Love made real in deeds.

Her eight children know that she is a remarkable woman and our greatest blessing from God.