By Fr. Paul Jarvis
I think I know how moms – and dads – feel after they tuck in a kid at night:
Lately, I’ve been trying to take as many opportunities to visit my mom in this the final leg of her journey.
I especially like the ritual of tucking my mom into bed at night. A ritual I know she enjoyed when I was kid in Hartford City – a good-night ritual I drew out as long as humanly possible.
As lights were turned off. As sheets and blanket were drawn up under my chin. As my footy-pajama’ed feet and legs shook in pure joy:
Mom: “Good night”
Kid: “Sleep tight.”
Mom: “Don’t let the bedbugs bite.”
Kid: “Don’t accept any wooden nickels.”
Then after a kiss, she leaves … only to sneak back later to watch me sleep. I know this because I watched her watch me through my barely opened eyelids.
Heavenly! This must be what Heaven is like.
Although my mom has Alzheimers, she still knows who her husband and kids are. And so when we Jarvis kids visit our mom, we don’t really expect there to be much of a dialogue. We mostly just sit, perhaps watch some TV, patiently answering the same question again and again, and let our mom softly scratch our arms – as she did when we were kids, nestled into her hug in our living room.
Then it’s bed time. As I now lean over and tuck her in, she says “Ohhhhhh, how I love you, Popo. I really, really do!” I love you too, mom, I say.
Me: “Good night.”
Mom: “Sleep tight.”
Me: “Don’t let the bedbugs bite.”
Mom: “Don’t accept any wooden nickels.”
Then – and this is the best part, something every parent has experienced and treasures – this childless bachelor sits nearby in the dark, beside his sleeping loved one. Just watching over her. Watching her breathe. Watching her listen to the drone of the nearby WCCO radio. Watching her enter dreamland.
I have no doubt that many of us during the recent May Crowning of Mary imagined the St. Joseph School eighth grade girls crowning not just Mother Mary. Not just giving our celestial mother flowers. But imagining our own moms being crowned and gifted with flowers.
This Mother’s Day, I urge you to be a mom (or dad) to your mom. Of course, remember the flowers. But make sure you re-enact the ritual you treasure from your childhood. Perhaps reversing the roles, as I do now. That ritual, that crowning will be worth more than a gazillion flowers.
Fr. Paul Jarvis, Pastor of St. Joseph Church in Rosemount