Today, April 30th is my Mom's birthday. I want to share the story of her rosary and a little wink from the heavens.
This is my handmade rosary that carries the story I want to share today.
My Mom was very devoted to praying the rosary. When I was a young child, my Mom cared for the church and altars and I took over for her as sacristan when I was in the 7th grade. We lived across the alley from the church/school complex and were very close to our pastor Fr. Walter Wernoski. One day, I remember Father Walter giving my Mom a truly beautiful crystal rosary that had been on the hand of the Blessed Mother statue at the church. My Mom used that rosary from that day on until she moved into my home at the age of 88. Somehow, in the hectic move, the rosary was misplaced. Someone recalled seeing it in the glass dish that sat next to her chair in her home but after that no one seems to know what happened to it. My brother, son and I were handling the remodel and her move to my home here at the house and my sister and other brother took care of cleaning out the old house.
When Mom moved in, she asked for her rosary. We searched but to no avail, somehow it disappeared. I have a similar rosary that belonged to my boys Great Grandmother, Margaret Wimmer. When Grandma Wimmer passed in the 1970's the rosary was gifted to me as the only Catholic in the family. I cherished it as a memento of her so I gave it to Mom to use.
This is Grandma Wimmer's simple little rosary - Mom's was larger and quite elegant but both were clear crystal.
Each night Mom made sure she had a rosary as she prayed while she fell asleep. I wanted to be sure to keep that particular rosary in the family on the Bartley side so I later gave her my handmade rosary that I had been using for many years. I made it with large heavy beads so she found it easy to locate as she was always losing the smaller one among the bed linens. She really liked it and was eventually buried with that rosary. When I gave her mine, I made myself another one. But couldn't find a suitable cross.
My large rosary next to a regular one - it is very large. I love the hefty weight of an over sized rosary:
I used sizable heavy black glass beads for the Ave beads and handmade amber glass beads with a touch of sparkling gold for the Pater beads with smaller amber, copper and black beading for spacers rather than the traditional chains. I like the tactile weight and heft of those beads in my hands which were similar to the one I gave to Mom. The problem was, I couldn't find a cross that was in the correct proportion for the size of the rosary.
I used a temporary cross while I kept the search for the perfect sized embellishment for my rosary. For 3 full years I checked just about every store, on line venues, Etsy, Ebay, ArtFire, religious goods shops etc. Everything was either too small or very expensive (like hundreds of dollars!) Well, low and behold, today - my Mom's birthday, I was gifted a vintage cross from one of my former RCIA candidates that is just perfect. How did he know??? And how is it just right for my rosary??? For no reason, out of the blue, the cross arrived in the morning mail with a sweet note ... A wink from above - thanks, Mom!
When I wrote the eulogy for my Mom's funeral I spoke a lot about her hands.
Some excepts of my eulogy:
"When I gathered my thoughts for this remembrance, my mind kept returning to my Mom’s hands. Our hands are magical, think of your hands and the hands of those who are close to you. Hands are as unique as faces; we carry our hearts in our hands. We don’t need photographs to remember them. How do I recall my Mom’s- patient enough to teach, gentle enough to hold, strong enough to discipline and wise enough to trust.
My earliest memories are of strong, steady hands that pulled the wisps of my hair into long braids and pin curls. She guided the hands of her children to be folded in prayer, taught us the sign of the cross along with our nursery rhymes, scrubbed our faces, tending to scraped knees and loose teeth, wiped away our tears and held us in support while we struggled to walk. She taught us to whistle with a blade of grass between our thumbs and put buttercups to our chins, to pick wild flowers and tend the garden.
She guided our hands in the tying of shoes, I remember sitting at the kitchen table writing my name for the first time – no easy task with a name like Klisiewicz! I can still see her hands folded in prayer while she and Dad knelt next to their bed each night praying silently alone but together.
Her hands taught my hands well. I watched them roll out nut rolls, glide around the edges of pie crust, rolled the golubki and pierogi, canned the tomatoes, fruits, jellies and jams. The greatest compliments my Mom ever gave me was when she asked ME how I made my apple pie because it was so much better than hers and when she told me my homemade chicken soup was the best she ever had and asked for the recipe. My Mom knew full well she was the best home style cook around, she rarely gave out statements like that, I am honored that she said that to me twice!
Never adorned with anything but her wedding band, not beautifully manicured and polished nails, her hands carried the no nonsense elegance of hard work. They hung the sheets to dry because it made them crisp and fresh, shoveled coal and snow, worked the soil, ironed countless baskets of laundry, scrubbed and waxed floors until they shined, tended the altars of SS Peter and Paul Church, sewed and moved in the mystical rhythms of crochet.
As she aged, those capable hands grew thinner and more fragile but they never slowed. Each day her hands faithfully embraced her rosary as she moved along the beads. She repeatedly told me that she prayed the rosary every single day for my Dad. Each night when I prepared her for bed, I would hand her the rosary that I made for her. She would kiss it and every night she always said “Bonnie, who is going to pray the rosary for me when I die?” I assured her that I would indeed pray the rosary for her and I have already fulfilled that obligation several times since her death on Tuesday. I would like to ask each of you here today to do just that one thing for my Mom. Not every day, just once, pray the rosary for my Mom, she will be ecstatic."
Thanks for visiting,