Saturday, November 01, 2008

For Alice

A poet once observed:
“The sweetest sounds to mortals given
Are heard in Mother, Home, and Heaven.”
I was thinking about this recently after attending the funeral of a woman who epitomizes for me what a mother should be: Loving, faithful, serving, ever-praising.
Alice Willig, wife of Ed Willig, was the mother of 11 children, 36 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. I got to know her as the mother of my dear friend, Fr. Jim Willig. When we were brought together to write his book, Lessons from the School of Suffering, chronicling his journey with cancer, much of it had to be written from his parent’s house where he was recuperating from different cancer treatments.
Alice’s love and care for her hurting son was actually palpable. You felt it the minute you walked into their home. As a mother, I understood. It doesn’t matter if our child is four or forty. When they are hurting, we are hurting. And Alice turned her hurt for her son into ways to help. From praying with him and cooking for him, to rubbing his feet after a weary cancer treatment, Alice served her son with a happy heart. Fr. Jim would often comment how doubly blessed he was to have a loving, heavenly mother in the Blessed Mother, and a loving, earthly mother to help him through his suffering. Alice’s role in his life made his devotion to Mary all the more natural. But Alice wasn’t just serving and loving her suffering son; she was able to serve and love all her children and grandchildren with this selfless, Christ-like love. And all the while she was serving, she was daily praying for them and their salvation.
We can learn so much from mothers like this: Moms who truly live their lives to raise their children in this world with the sole purpose of getting them into the next world.
We get so caught up in our ideas of the super-mom of today: the one who brings home the bacon and fries it up in the pan. But, if truth be told, there is no better supermom than one who spends her life showing her children Christ’s love through her love for them.
Today, we can all learn so much from the life of supermom, Alice Willig. We can smile as we think of the poet’s words once again:
“The sweetest sounds to mortals given
Are heard in Mother, Home, and Heaven.”
And those words are even sweeter when they refer to a life well loved and lived, and a dear mother who finally makes it home to heaven.

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