The influence and memories of our mothers hold a special significance for most of us. I have heard and read stories from war that reveal that when soldiers are mortally wounded in combat, they cry out for their moms. This is a poignant testament to the strong bonds that mothers form with their children.
My life experience also supports this reality. I had a strong relationship with and an allegiance to my mom and now I’m witness to the powerful bonds that my children are cementing with Ann Marie.
My mom died suddenly when she was sixty-nine years old. I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye to her that day…nobody did. After some Christmas shopping, she took off her coat, set down her bags and snuck off to the next life.
A number of years after her death and after my first child was born, I had a very powerful experience of my mother…in fact, it felt supernatural!
Upon arriving home from work one summer evening, my wife handed me our first born son so that she could run a quick errand. As I sat down to feed Jude his bottle, I felt an unfamiliar urge stir inside of me. At that moment, I remember audibly asking God to let me introduce Jude to my mom. I bowed my head, closed my eyes, and instantly a large video screen appeared in my mind’s eye.
A radiant vision of my mother, who was standing amidst a sea of pink Petunias, came to me. She grinned knowingly and asked whether I could believe that the flowers had been planted just for her. I told her that I was not surprised. With love in her eyes, she gently asked whether the baby that I was holding was mine. I introduced her to Jude and her immediate reaction was out-of-this-world…throwing him up in the air and loving on him. In that moment, her face gave witness to complete and utter bliss.
Some time passed and I told her that I’d better get going. She was saddened and while handing Jude back to me, she asked if I could stay for another minute. She fumbled with something at her feet and then playfully hoisted a flag to the top of a giant flagpole. As her flag unfurled it imparted two simple words…HAVE FUN!
In a rush, I was transported back to the present moment feeling a tremendous sense of peace. To this day, it is hard for me to believe and even harder to describe how real the experience felt.
It is shocking that my mother did not better leverage our supernatural appointment to remind me instead to make her proud, wear clean underwear, work hard, say the rosary, drive safely, be honest, get to church or stay with the good people.
I have reflected on this experience almost every day since her appearance. For me, her message could not have been more crystalized or more on target.
HAVE FUN was not the theme of my mother’s life and it certainly was not the core message she ingrained into her children. With very good intentions, she often assumed burdens that were not her own. She was always out-performing her peers and sadly, her servant heart often distanced her from us and robbed her of her joy. It was hard for her to shut it down; to let herself recharge and to refill her reserves.
At the moment of her passing, she must have realized that she could have focused more on the being than the doing that comes with the human experience. Her simple message to me was exquisitely crafted to grab and to keep my attention. She wanted to shake me loose of the shackles of what she had modeled; I am thankful for her life-lesson.
Now HAVE FUN challenges me to check-in with myself throughout the day and to maximize the joy that exists beneath the surface of doing.
Thomas “TD” Dierker
Live like you’re dying….cause you are!