My mom died in 1994. On this Mothers Day in 2017 I am remembering one rather heart stopping event with my mom early – I think it was – Monday morning, 3 October, 1983, when I was going back to Rome for the umpteenth time. I was a mere 23 years old.
This was the one year I had no books with me as I had a rather large library of personal books waiting in my residence in Rome. I only had some fifteen pages of notes in the tiniest handwriting ever so as to study for some exams which I had put off to the Fall in favor of leaving Rome weeks earlier in the Spring (I was actually able to take other exams early and leave by the end of May, making my friends terribly envious, as some would be there taking exams until mid-late June).
That would be the last Summer of my life that I would be in insanely good shape. My mode of transportation was a ten-speed K-Mart bicycle, with which I go to town for a daily Holy Hour at Saint Mary’s Cathedral (a 45 mile round trip). So, now, it was the last moments at home and, having said my goodbyes, I jumped on my bike to ride into town to catch the shuttle van from Saint Cloud to the Wold-Chamberlain International Airport of Minneapolis-Saint Paul. Once there I would box up the bike right at the airport and then, arriving in Italy, ride the bike from Fiumicino into Rome.
But, just as I got about 100 yards away from home, at the top of the hill, just before the road went precipitously down, I heard mom calling out to me. I jumped off the bike and looked back. She had run out in front of the house and was calling out: “Vaya con Dios! Vaya con Dios!” (Go with God! Go with God!). This phrase is only used with religious sincerity while someone is going away for a long time, and that’s exactly how she meant it, especially the religious part. I forget my response. She was worried for me. And I think she was worried for herself. She wasn’t in great health. It hit me strongly that this was what she wanted me to remember her by, a kind of last will and testament: “Go with God!” Heart stopping for me. But this is a great memory and makes me feel close to my mom right now. Happy Mothers Day, mom!