A Tribute to “Little Mom”
(September 20, 1939 – May 2, 2015)
By: Madeleine Jomolca
I have an amazing God. I know this. I know this because His inimitable craftsmanship and technique are great evidences of His omniscience and love over my life. It is evidenced in the way He carefully and selectively knitted our family together, into existence, unifying beauty and personas into a rich assortment of qualities and roles… Because of this – our family is a circle of strength and love. God makes no mistakes – I know this – and I know you knew this, too, Mom.
I have an astute and perceptive father. I know this. I know this because in spite of his deficiencies, he chose and pursued a woman who not only depicted the very essence of elegance, humility, beauty and grace, but also the woman who would later teach him the value and significance of offering and receiving “forgiveness”.
I have amazing brothers and sisters, daughters, nieces and nephews, and grandchildren. I know this. I know this because despite our diversities, and contrasts, we are bound by the love of a divinely-selected woman, and are made one- undivided, in this love. You are that love, Mom; so-much-so, that we cannot help but embrace the very essence of you – every quirky saying, every laughter, every song – every recollection.
Why, just yesterday, you joined Maria in the kitchen for your morning “café con leche” a donut (or two!) and some morning inspiration, before making your way to me, when we shared a “pastelito de guayaba”, and a “croquetica de jamon”. We sang your favorite Lionel Richie tune- ‘Three Times a Lady”, and prayed an “Our Father’ together, as we often did by phone. Just a short while later, you sat on the front porch with Ana and breathed-in the exquisite spring air, as she pleaded with you to share your stories of years past. You then took a little drive to South Beach with Juanty and together you devoured a huge boat of your favorite assorted sushi and more laughter. Back home, Alex greeted you with a kiss on the forehead and a foot massage, after reassuring you that he had “finished the dishes”. Later that evening, after having enjoyed a long afternoon with your grandchildren – Nathalie, Angelo, Nina, Alexis, Xavier and Nastazia, and great-grandchildren – Julian, Lucas, Gabriel, Landon and Calina, you joined dad for a duel of ‘canasta’ – you won (again) hands down, by the way. Dad, who noted your slight fatigue from a full and eventful day, then tucked you in bed, softly kissed your brow, and bid you – goodnight.
You fostered a unique relationship with each of us, because you truly took the time to relate to every one of us, personally and intimately. You are cherished.
This Mother’s Day, just a short week after your departure, I am reminded again, as in prior years, how you, despite your own struggles and afflictions, selflessly made time to contribute and remain engaged in our lives. You were there, at every game, every track-meet, every talent show, every heartbreak and every celebration. I remember how I would unceasingly seek your face in the crowd before every game, tournament and event, and only after spotting your radiant smile together with a ‘thumbs-up” would I feel at-ease. Every cheer and applaud from you, compelled me to do better, to try and play harder, and in retrospect, over time, I have now come to realize that… I played and performed for you, Mom.
As can be expected, there were a few short years, when you and I disagreed on a few things. Although you never truly passed judgment on my decisions, you scolded me from time-to-time for my hasty displays of impatience, while I, in turn, mistook your tolerance and patience for weakness. I want you to know that I heard every word, every plea. You were right, and I was wrong. Tolerance and patience? – Got it… I’m still working on it, Mom. You see, as foolish as I was then, your faith, my faith, our faith in God has helped me to realize that freedom, true freedom isn’t found in ‘control” – controlling people, and/or circumstances. True, actual freedom is, instead found in total surrender, for it is in that moment of surrender that we relinquish the “me”, embracing the “He” [Christ], and allow peace to reign in our hearts. I now know this, and I know you knew this all along.
On that last night, wanting so much to be near you, we all stayed with you throughout the night. I held your hand for hours and from time-to-time prayed in your ear and asked you to forgive me for any pain I may have caused you. I know you heard me. In know this because just as I spoke my last word, you squeezed my hand as if to say; “Oh, Madeleine – don’t worry, be happy!”
This morning, as I sipped on a warm cup of java, my head filled with all of things I wanted to say to you, the things and words and I hoped to include in this commemorative tribute, I was warmed by the way you were always up for anything, from games, to song-filled long drives, to theatrical dress-ups, to fifteen-plus kids slumber parties, you taught us that laughter is truly the best remedy! You assigned us each a nickname, mine was “chimi” (short for chimichurri), and as your heart began to weaken and speaking by phone became less and bearable, you began to text us warm and funny messages to lift our spirits and let us know that we were in your thoughts; messages we increasingly grew to rely upon, on a steady basis.
I thought, too, about how on last Mother’s Day, I showed you a photo of us that I posted on Facebook to honor you, and how you teared up and said: ‘we can only do our best, even if our best isn’t always good enough”. My eyes still well-up when I recall the pain in your eyes because you felt that you might have failed us as a mother, somehow. Silly, silly little mom – don’t you know that it is precisely because of your imperfections, that I, perfectly, imperfect me, with all of my flaws and defects can now live and respire profound hope? Hope, not because of who I am today, but for who and what I can and will become tomorrow.
Today, on Mother’s Day, the first of several to come in your physical absence, we will, as tradition bids, go visit your “final resting place” to pray for and with you, roses in-hand, no sunflowers, I think; but I know, that you will not be there. I know this because I know that while your physical remains might be buried beneath the earth, you have passed from this life to live eternally in the all the splendor of your Creator and King – and though my selfish nature will miss and grieve you, often secretly hoping that you were still here with us – I rest knowing that you now repose in the arms of a Savior.
And so it is with a tender heart and serene soul, that I/we bid you farewell for now, until we meet again. Thank you for so many years of enduring guidance. Without hesitation, you gave up the very things that you once held so dear in your life so that we could take on those things that mattered most in ours. You taught us that love knows no bounds – but bears and forgives all transgressions, and then you showered us with such love. Because of this, I am able to extend that same love to my children.
By the way, one last thing: As a small show of unity in your honor, the ladies all wore red-on-red at your funeral, and while everyone exuded loveliness – We can all agree that NO ONE- I mean NOBODY, ROCKS those classic red lips like you did!– But then again… you already knew that!
I love you from the pit of my soul, my amazing “little mom”… You will forever live in our hearts!
Your loving daughter, your “Chimi”,