My now deceased mother, Jinni, was an awesome support when I was raising my children. We had a date to talk most nights at five o’clock or later, if she was still working and had to finish her train commute from downtown Chicago to the far southside. But we never missed.
THAT LONG PHONE CORD…
Those were the years of wall phones and though I was eager to talk to her, I sometimes wished I had a longer cord so I could multi-task: one daughter needed dictionary help, another couldn’t find her soccer uniform, the water in the pot on the stove had boiled off the Idaho potatoes.
As Jinni aged, her loving reach extended to the entire world. While I might be preparing dinner, Jinni would be telling me about starving children in Africa. (And this is no metaphor, because whatever Jinni told me, she had first hand knowledge, either from television news or the newspaper. My mother was always informed.)
Now, more than ever, I think of how Jinni would be reacting to the separation of children from their parents. SHE WOULD BE OUT OF HER MIND. She would be watching the news 24-7. She would know more about the world and it crises than anyone.
As a young woman, Jinni made a vow to God to pray the rosary every night if she could be blessed with healthy children. She kept that promise. Up until dementia probably wiped away that pledge, she worked her rosary, and often down on her knees.
When the tragedy at the border started, I thought of my mother immediately, how upset she would be, the conversations we would have, how her rosary would get a real workout. In my days of cooking while Jinni reminded me that children were starving on the other side of the word, I had my own thoughts about the arrogance of bringing children into a world of war and peace, famine and plenty, love and hate. (In the novel I am writing, my main character struggles with similar thoughts.)
But there is always hope. Jinni knew that. My God, I wrote about her HOPE in my post It’s Time for Mom to Hand over the Checkbook, because on entering her assisted living apartment, I always found piles of envelopes indicating that Jinni WOULD save the world and its children (African, Native American, African American) until she took her last breath. My brother Bill provided Jinni with a monthly stipend—you know—just to give her a little spending money for a movie, a new sweater. We laugh to this day—most of that money went to charity. That was the Jinni way.
MY RECENT VICTORY, A VERY SMALL STEP
So since the horrific situation at the border, the separation of children, the misinformation, I have waited for my church to pray for these kids. Nothing. So yesterday before Mass, I approached the pastor, took his hands in mine and told him I had spoken to both our old pastor (in the grocery store) and the deacon about the prayers of the faithful and that as a congregation we were not praying for the children at the border. At first, he had the same explanation the other two did, he’s not in charge of writing the prayers. Okay, I said, you could say something from the altar, it’s your show.
He did mention politics and the community and I argued that angle also–WE ARE CATHOLICS. THIS IS WHAT CHRIST WOULD WANT US TO DO: welcome the children or at least pray for them.
Every year our parish builds a Habitat Home for a Latino family. I don’t see the difference, except for this breaking the law thing. Anyway, he began to melt, mentioned an interview he read about a woman who was raped, escaping from a country of outlaws. The saddest thing he told me was that I WAS THE ONLY PERSON WHO HAD EVER APPROACHED HIM ON THIS ISSUE.
I think that’s shocking. He also said he did not vote for 45, didn’t use his name, but the message was clear. We were still holding hands. He has never been the kind of pastor I would choose, he always starts his homilies with a joke and some of them have been very lame and even anti-feminism. But he seemed to get it and promised me that he would do something from the altar today. (Well don’t do it for me, do if for your God and your conscience.)
After his homily, he actually did ask the congregation to pray for children separated from their parents. Wow, first step, easy. Now give a homily next week about the family of man, about being Christ-like, loving your neighbor!! Well, I guess I can hope. And I pray, every day, every night, whenever I remember to. I tweet, I use Facebook. And I’ve written some checks. It will never be enough…
But I hope you are all doing something too. There is strength in many voices. Wow, I was the ONLY ONE who had asked him to pray for these children.
P.S. Feeling helpless? The attorneys and other folks who work for the ACLU are doing an incredible job at the border, arguing parental rights, human rights, asylum rights. SUPPORT THE ACLU Go here. Call your Congressman or Congresswoman. SPEAK OUT. This is America. These are human beings, children. Do what you can to help.
THANKS TO PINTEREST and the art work of Laura Tortolita. Mexican AmericanMexican ArtMexican FiestaLatino ArtChicano ArtChild ArtMothers …