My mother was a dues-paying member of our parish's Altar Rosary Society, but she could never attend their meetings because they were scheduled during her work hours at the local hospital. But I can recall seeing her take up her rosary very early in the morning, praying in the kitchen, after she had gotten our family's breakfast.
And when she took me to church to stop over for a visit to the Blessed Sacrament after attending parochial school that day, she took out her beads again and prayed before the statue of the Blessed Virgin after lighting a candle.
We didn't pray the rosary as a family together, but my parents always told us to say our prayers before bed and, of course, we attended Sunday Mass together. Mom was a daily communicant which inspired me to become one, too.
Later, when she and Dad retired, they prayed the rosary before a Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
It was due to their example that I began praying this devotion when I was sixteen years old, after a conversion experience in which I enountered Christ as my Savior in a special way.
I credit both my parents with my love for Jesus, the Blessed Mother, and the rosary, but especially Mom whose face looked so serene and gentle as she invoked Jesus' assistance through Our Lady's intercession.
Mom was a loving and generous soul.
The local five and dime store was a wonder to me when, as a child, my mother would take my brother, Greg, and me there after school. The toy department held charms that would dazzle kids. Sparkling gems in multicolored hues were displayed on the counters, so appealing to girls who would buy their first birthstone rings there. That's where I purchased my first makeup foundation, which was a rite of passage at finally becoming a teenager when I was allowed to wear it.
Mom would buy us soft, chewy pretzels or pizza and the lunch counter featured strawberry ice cream sodas. You popped open a balloon to get the price of the desserts and once I won a sundae for a penny. How I loved the simple ambience of that place! I would be clad in my navy blue Catholic elementary school uniform and white Peter Pan collar. My knee socks would be dangling because they never stayed up.
When I was much younger, Mom purchased a Paper Doll Wedding Set which made me so happy. Greg bought a goldfish there and a basketball which he loved to play with his classmates. There was a contraption where you sat and took photos of yourself in black and white which would be developed instantly. We didn't need smartphones for selfies back then!
Those times were so special and are the quiet kind of happiness that bring the sweetest joys. We find them every day. Thrilling, exhilarating, super high times are rare. Humans cannot sustain them long. God brings his sweetness to us in quiet hours spent with those we love.
I think Mom enjoyed those outings as much as we did. Now that she is gone, I often remember those times when Mom showed her love for us. Time has erased the physical places of my childhood, but the memories linger. I can close my eyes and remember my mother's gentle kindness: treating my brother and me to strawberry ice cream sodas.