This Mom Asked Herself: ‘What Is It You Really Need?’

It took a dire situation to put life, love and happiness into sharp perspective for this devoted mother

In a northern New Jersey town in the early 1990s, an event set off sparks involving Mother Superior with The Mission of Franciscan Sisters. Its greatest impact, however, was upon me — a single working mom and a Roman Catholic with a kicker of a lesson as timely today as yesterday.

My then-seven-year-old son and I were frequent visitors of the mission only a short walk from our home. We enjoyed the community of those who shopped at the gift store in the back of the convent’s grounds. The income from its sales (including homemade bread, scones, embroidered napkins, knitted shawls, and donated items of jewelry) helped support the elderly and sick sisters whose lifetimes were spent living among and assisting the poorest of the poor in America and around the world.

[lz_ndn video=32177635]

On one memorable brisk fall day, I got an early-morning phone call from Mother Superior. We had planned to meet for lunch, but Mother was outraged. She explained that one of the elderly sisters had broken her leg in a bad fall the night before. Afterward, Mother and Sister spent eight hours in the hospital’s ER — until a group of uninsured illegal immigrants were attended to first.

At her wit’s end, Mother stood up — rosary beads flying — and demanded help, warning the staff that all would be done within Mother’s power along with our Lord God to take them to task. With Mother’s Irish brogue as furious as a banshee’s wail, a flurry of residents and nurses hurriedly came to Sister’s aid and she was admitted.

Mother was too exhausted for lunch, so we agreed to meet for a short visit at the gift shop. While getting dressed, I flipped open an overflowing jewelry box and fumbled around for a strand of pearls that I couldn’t find. Shaking my head in dismay, I thought, Take a good look at what you have in there. Then ask yourself: What is it you really need?

Do you support individual military members being able to opt out of getting the COVID vaccine?

By completing the poll, you agree to receive emails from LifeZette, occasional offers from our partners and that you've read and agree to our privacy policy and legal statement.

For the first time in my life, I could see my lowly desire to escape disturbing events by activities like shopping for yet another bauble.

Yet in that moment, I was almost giddy because it was clear what needed to be done. This “stuff” was destined to become a donation for the nuns’ needs — whatever those might be.

Throwing on a shawl, I almost danced my way to the gift shop. Mother pointed to my bulging silk drawstring bag and spilling its contents on her desk — that lovely face was transformed from angst into joy.

Related: A Single Mom’s Guide to Burnout Prevention

At the end of our tally, Mother rang for two tiny delicate glasses of liqueur to celebrate. We sipped, and she laid her head back with a sigh. “That’s the second largest donation we’ve ever received … but what about your charitable deduction for taxes next year?”

“Mother, whatever I save in taxes will come here!” And we both laughed.

When I got home, the phone rang. It was Mother who excitedly told me about a woman who came to the shop shortly after I left and purchased some of our haul. “Do you realize that her purchase will ensure that the pregnant women we help in the poorest of places won’t have to crawl to some river to give birth to their babies?!”

Related: ‘It Never Occurred to Us to Be Victims’: One Mom’s Tale

My legs almost went out from under me as I reached blindly for a chair.  But within moments of comprehending the enormity of what Mother said — I could ‘see.’

There is no earthly value one can place on stand-and-deliver justice. Still, it may take a great teacher like Mother to lead those lost ones like me to rise above worldly woes and desires to make it all the way home.

The author, a retired attorney, is a published poet and columnist in Arizona; she is also a regular contributor to LifeZette.

Join the Discussion

Comments are currently closed.