15 Oct

Imagine a mother with seventeen children, being aware of one missing child alone in her bedroom for too many hours. She then goes on to make all the necessary arrangements to let this child know that there’s a world outside waiting for her, and needs her. This is just one of the things my mother did for my youngest sister, Shirley, who was fourteen-years-old at the time.  I was married, and with a four-year-old daughter when I received a phone call from my mother like this: “Hi Cathy! Can you please do me a favor?  Can you call Shirley on the phone and ask her to come over your house to help you with Natalie, because I want to get her out of her bedroom? I’m concerned, since she is the youngest one in the family, and a girl, alone, who doesn’t have the same interest as the five boys have with one another.” I made the call, and Shirley came. She had a wonderful time with us.


You see; Shirley was born into our family after a run of five boys, just a year apart. Seven other girls in our family were away from home or married by the time she reached her teens. This meant Shirley needed a little more attention then the rest of us. And this is just one incident of how my mom handled each one of us, while there were sixteen more challenges that same day.

Against all the odds, Mom saw to it that all of her seventeen children were healthy and thriving. It was only after she died that everything changed. She wasn’t Alexander Graham Bell, or Thomas Edison, but she truly found the remedy for raising happy children. In the same way, we lose power by turning off the lights or hanging up the phone. It was her presence that brought light and sounds of love to our world. And regretfully, it was her absence that left us in ignorance and darkness.


Sadly, this led to broken families and even strain for some of us mothers of young children who had to work outside the home. This lifestyle was considered normal in the modern-age, especially, since mom wasn’t here anymore to put us back on the right track. Within two years after her passing, there were mental health issues that resulted in drug dependency, even some of the teens dropping out of school. Soon, primary responsibilities in a marriage and parenting were put aside to fulfill passions and careers. There was no mother to face up to for those things we weren’t doing right, until we fell down and faced ourselves, and cried.


Just in the past couple of years, we mournfully buried four young nephews, and two younger brothers. We cried over our sibling’s teens attempted suicide. We didn’t see the warning signs either that my remarkable mother’s wisdom with seventeen children miraculously put her hands on to prevent them at all measures. I know these things could have happened while she was here, but the true fact about the matter is that none of them did. And I also know, at all cost, I have a duty and responsibility to be a parent first. These things she taught me, as she did them with grace.


I wonder if my mother heard God’s whispers from bearing so many children, or did she understand the hearts of her newborn babies. Given she was aware of her children’s cry after the cord is cut that we continuously bear the tear throughout our lives. She obviously had this insight, because by no means did she separate herself from us that a blessed family was reflected back to her. Perhaps, if we use our minds to see the beauty of our primary roles, we move closer to being God-like.



About the Author

Written by Catherine Nagle

Catherine grew up in Philadelphia with 16 brothers and sisters, reared by loving, old-school Italian parents. Catherine's artist father's works graced churches and public buildings; her mother was a full-time homemaker. A professional hairdresser, Catherine worked in various salons while studying the Bible and pursuing spiritual growth through courses, seminars, lectures, works of Marianne Williamson, and conferences, including the National Theology of the Body Congress. She is also an Ambassador of the Society of Emotional Intelligence. The mother of two children and now a grandmother, Catherine lives in Pennsylvania with her husband. She is the Author of Imprinted Wisdom, Absence and Presence, Amelia, and a contributor to Anne Born’s These Winter Months: The Late Orphan Project Anthology.

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