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.


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.


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 …





14 thoughts on “MY REPORT FROM THE FRONT

  1. Beth, this is a great Boomer Highway, and I must say, I chuckled over Mom’s use of the stipend checks I used to send her while living in New York. I could have used the tax write off, but then, I guess when it comes to judgement day, I will get a little extra grace. I can think of a few other people that might benefit from something along those lines…..

  2. This one brought tears to my eyes. I know my own mother would not only be demanding our minister pray for those kids, but she’d probably be down at the border protesting. Injustice of any kind brought out the Valkyrie in her Germanic blood. I can’t imagine ANY Christian who condones the horrors going on at the border. I pray our country comes to its senses soon. We have become the Evil Empire.

    • So feel more and more our sisterhood. My mother also had Valkyrie Germanic blood. The right kind. Thanks for supporting me with this post and so much else. I have cried a lot over this. And now the tRump administration is against breast feeding. It’s unbelievable. More children will die in 3rd world countries and more fat cats will get rich pushing formula.

  3. Thanks for this impassioned essay. You are right on all counts.

  4. Your message is so powerful. Knowing how your Mother passed her passion for helping on to you takes your shout out personal and not just lip service. Amen to you Beth!

    • Thanks, Haralee. I love that connection we have. It makes me smile. Have a good day, Beth

  5. Your mom sounds like an amazing person and example to you and all who she influenced. No one has publicly prayed for these children and their families at my church either, but I’m going to try and change that. Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. This whole thing keeps me up at night. I’m surprised that it took prodding to pray for the kids at the border but so glad you mentioned it. I’m sure there are others in the congregation who feel just as upset. At least, I hope so.

    • Me too. Not sure about my congregation. If my husband didn’t usher and like being part of it, I’d be out of there. My bad.

  7. Hi Beth! Good for you for confronting your priest about his silence. I don’t attend a church or I’m afraid I’d have to speak up too. It’s a CHURCH like you said and everything they teach is supposed to be about love and compassion. But it’s clear to me that you learned your strong moral compass from your mom. She sounds like a wonderful woman and while you’re obviously and rightly proud of her, I’ll be she is proud of you too. ~Kathy

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