As long as I can remember, those beads were never far from her hands.
My mom, the youngest of 8 children raised by a single mom, was given my Nana's rosary when she passed away early in the 70's. Since then, that rosary has never been far from my momma's hands.
A simple rosary. Made of glass beads and chain and a crucifix and a medal. Things. A simple rosary. Yet part of her. And part of her mother.
As long as I can remember, that is the rosary my mom would use to pray the beautiful prayer where the Mother of God, our Mother Mary, points us to her son and inspires us to reflect on Jesus' life. Everything in the rosary and everything about Mary always leads us to her son. That is her role, and she still does that for us earthly children today.
As long as I can remember, my mom has received other rosaries. Some beautiful and exquisite and some plain and ordinary. Yet the one that she always went back to and the one that she treasured was her mom's rosary.
As long as I can remember, there have been times when the beads were missing. What happened? Where were they? When were they last seen? After searching ourselves, we would pray to St. Anthony and ask for his intercession and he always pulled through for us.
I've walked into my mom's room as a child and now as an adult and found her sleeping with the beads either loose in her hand or resting next to her. She often would fall asleep while touching these beads and praying - bringing joys, thoughts, concerns, worries, blessings, thanksgivings, sadness to her God. As long as I can remember, the beads would be in her pocket or next to her on the sofa or on the table right by her bed.
When my mom had her stroke, from the moment we went to the hospital not even knowing yet what was wrong, she held those beads. She would awake from a rest and her hands would move and she would search for those beads. They would be in her hands until she needed to have a test when she would pass them to myself or my sister or my dad, knowing that as soon as she was done that she would have them back. She would stir in her sleep and her hands would start to skim the sheets. "Here is your rosary, Mom." Her fingers would close around the beads and a bit of peace would be restored.
As long as I can remember, those beads have spoken. They've spoken of comfort and strength. They've spoken of perseverance in prayer. They've spoken of pain and sorrow. They've spoken of trust. They've spoken of a mother's connection to her children. They've spoken of a child's connection to her momma. They've spoken of where you turn in happiness and where you turn in sadness.
Since her stroke, she has misplaced the beads a little more often. There were a couple of times that we thought they might be gone for good. Yet, by God's grace, they have always been found.
So last night when I went to my parent's home I was surprised when my mom handed me a note and a small pouch. The note began in my mom's writing, continued in my dad's, and ended with my mom's signature:
To my youngest child,
I did want to give this to my youngest child. Aunt D gave this to me when Nana died and since I was the youngest, I wanted my youngest to receive it...So here's to my beautiful daughter who I love very much. Enjoy using this rosary as much as I have.
As long as I can remember, those beads have been an extension of my mom and now she has entrusted them to me. A mom guides her children, she points the way, she shines a light, and prays that her children will not go astray. A mom sets an example and fills a home with love.
Today I look down at my own hands, so very much like my momma's. I look at my hands and see the beads of my Nana, the beads of my mom, gently resting in my palm. I feel the love of these woman and pray that these unworthy hands, holding these precious beads, can set even a bit of the example of motherhood and love of God that my momma has taught and continues to instill in me today.
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.