I have always wanted to thank you in a more sincere and complete way, as it seems that my little postcards and poems have only touched the surface of my gratitude for all that you have done for me.
1. Thank you for the gift of my life. You gave birth to me after two difficult miscarriages when you were almost 40 years old. You could have stopped being open to life, but because you said yes, I am here today. Thank you as well for praying the rosary every day for me while I was still in the womb…not a coincidence that I was born on the feast day of the Blessed Mother’s parents (July 26) and baptized on the Feast of the Assumption (August 15). Thank you as well for placing the beautiful grotto of the Blessed Mother in our back yard, directly outside my bedroom window and for the painting of the Sacred Heart in our main hallway…powerful visuals that helped shape my early Faith.
2. Thank you, mom, for the incredible witness of your own Faith. You attended the 6:15 AM daily Mass at St. Hugo’s for most of your adult life, you went to Confession regularly, prayed the daily rosary, asked us to pray for the hurting soul when an ambulance went by, and before leaving on road trips for a safe journey…and as a result of this daily torrent of grace coming into your soul, you found the strength to joyfully accept God’s plan in your life, both in good times and bad. Losing a son and shortly afterwards losing a husband broke your heart, but you continued to trust in Christ. As your son, I was carefully watching and learning from your magnanimity and trust during these dark and dreary days for you and our family. Your constant and loving devotion to Debbie, your daughter and my “big sister” who has been in a wheelchair for almost 60 years, has also been very moving and edifying. Your faith has truly been tested and you have come out shining so brightly!
3. Thank you for persevering in your marriage for 45 years until dad passed away. Even more important than being a great mom, you were truly a great wife and this was huge! I reflected on this fact as I was preparing for my priestly ordination…a firm commitment made in the presence of God. I know it was not always easy, mom, and I know Dad had a strong temperament…but you softened his heart with your kindness and you often bent over backwards to make it work. Thank you for creating this stable and peaceful environment in our home…it meant a lot to me as a kid and it means even more to me now as a priest.
4. Thank you for the countless acts of kindness and love. Your happy face (in spite of not sleeping well or feeling sick), your wonderful “home-cooked” meals, your funny jokes to lighten everyone up during times of tension, your playing the banjo and singing “Oh Susannah” with a huge and funny smile, and making us all happy with your joy, taking me out for a Baskin Robbins ice cream when I needed a picker upper, dressing up the “outdoor paper mâché ducks” with new outfits for my annual home visits, so many little acts of creative love and so often…thank you for sweetening my childhood with your random acts of goodness! And not just for me and the family. You cooked so many meals, put together so many flower arrangements, and painted so many works of art for your friends and neighbors who were sick or who needed a little boost. Thank you for including me in this process!
5. Thank you for supporting my priestly vocation through your prayers, phone calls and letters of encouragement. You told me that you pray for me everyday during that special time with Our Lord in Holy Communion and I know these prayers have not gone unanswered! Although you have often been physically far away, you are spiritually so close to me since I left home over 29 years ago, and I am so grateful!
6. Thank you for showing me how to use my own time well through your example of always serving, reading, praying, exercising…never wasting a minute but at the same time, I never felt that you were in a hurry when you looked me in the eyes or were patiently listening to my concerns or problems.
7. Thank you for your strong optimism. You always saw the bright side, always encouraging and lifting me up during my own personal struggles as a kid. You never allowed me to feel sorry for myself and your warm smile and inspiring words helped me through many dark valleys and tunnels. Home was not only a safe place, it was a place where I received a lot of heart felt love!
*I could go on and on, but this covers the key points. I love you, mom and I thank you for everything!!
With my priestly blessing,
Fr. Michael Sliney, LC