All month long, I will be highlighting a RWISA author and one of his/her new works. RWISA is an international society of excellent writers, and I encourage you to get to know more about them. Today, I will be sharing "The Rosary" by Gwen Plano. I've read one of her novels and really liked it! Enjoy!
THE ROSARY by Gwen M. Plano
Young or old, we are all children at heart. This truth
became apparent to me last December when I had neurosurgery.
Prior to the operation, a clerk handed me a stack of
documents to sign—billing forms for the hospital and the doctors and several medical
release forms that included a list of potential risks. My apprehension grew as
I fingered through the papers and provided my signature. It was then that I wished
that my mom could be with me. Like any child, I thought she could make it all
better. But sadly, she had passed away nine months prior.
My mom was a person of prayer, and when I was young, she’d gather
her seven children, tell us to get on our knees, and then proceed to pray. We’d
follow her lead—usually protesting—and pray for family members, friends, and
the unknown masses. Often, she led us in saying the rosary. Prayer was my mom’s
response to any challenge or difficulty, and we had plenty of both on our farm.
Mom’s most common expression was, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!”
While some of us might curse or yell in frustration, Mom would say this phrase
instead. So, when one of my brothers
sent a golf ball through the picture window, Mom called out “Jesus, Mary, and
Joseph!” before scolding him. When we siblings squabbled with one another, Mom
would mutter, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” before sending us to our bedrooms.
Without exception, we grew up knowing that when Mom said “Jesus, Mary, and
Joseph,” we were in trouble.
I can’t remember a time when Mom wasn’t praying. Whether
washing the dishes, hanging the wash on the clothesline, working in the garden,
or driving us to a sporting event or a 4-H meeting, Mom quietly prayed. I asked
her about this once, and her response left an indelible impression.
“Life is short,” she began, “and we must use every moment to
the fullest. People need our prayers, and some don’t have a family to pray for
them like we do.”
I didn’t understand
her comment about using every moment to the fullest until I grew older. But her
explanation helped me grasp why she rarely watched television and why she
rushed from one room to another throughout the day.
When Mom passed at ninety-two years of age, she left a
legacy of beliefs and practices that had found a place in the heart of each of her
children. We may have complained about kneeling on the hard floor, but even as little
tykes, prayer became part of our lives because of our mother.
At her passing, we were bereft. Mom was our strength, our
compass. She was the one we called about concerns, both large and small; she
was the one we talked with about our hopes and dreams. Her passing left a huge
emptiness that still echoes in our memories. When we sorted through her
belongings, not so surprisingly, we discovered she had a dozen or so rosaries.
I received two of them.
When I checked into Cedars Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, I
took my mom’s wooden rosary with me. I felt her near when I held it, and this sensation
gave me comfort. I held the beads
tightly and imagined Mom with me.
After the surgery, I was rolled into a room on the Pain
Floor where all neurosurgery patients were housed. Next to me was an adjustable
overbed table, and when I awakened, I realized that my mom’s rosary rested on
My nurse, Lucy, regularly came in to check on me, and each
time she walked through the door, she sang a refrain which included the words, our lady of the rosary. I was surprised
by this, because Cedars Sinai is a Jewish hospital. After Lucy left, an aide
visited, and she explained that her sister was a nun, and my rosary reminded
her of this sister. Later, the night nurse came in and told me about
immigrating to the US and how she loved the rosary.
During my hospital stay, one staff person after another visited
me and shared family stories and photos—all evoked by the rosary that rested on
the overbed table. As I was preparing to leave, Lucy came in to say her
goodbyes. She pulled a photo from her pocket.
“This is my mom,” she proudly stated. “I thought you’d like
to see her.”
The image was of a petite woman, hunched over by time,
smiling broadly at the camera. She stood next to her much-larger daughter,
Lucy. I was stunned; she looked like my mom.
As the hospital staff came to say goodbye and wish me well,
I suddenly realized that Mom had been with me the whole while. I had been loved
and cared for by many at the hospital, but it was Mom who drew them near with her
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