Monday, July 27, 2009

The Story of the Virgin Mary Statue

The following story is from an e-mail I sent a long time friend in California back in February of this year. It's regarding the story of the Blessed Virgin Mary statue I brought home from New Jersey after my dad passed away a year ago. Originally I never intended to share it publicly, but, on this the first anniversary of my father's passing away it seems suitable I should share it. After all, the majority of visitors here are long time friends and thus my extended family.

She rests now atop my entertainment center, looking down on us.

From an email sent to a friend on February 26th 2009:
On my last visit to my dad in 2007, he was still fairly mobile but I could see he was in much worse shape than the previous year's visit. There was a period where he and I were alone in his bedroom. He said he needed to talk to me and he shut the door. At this point he started crying and asked me if I would do him a favor (I am getting bleary eyed just typing this). I said of course he could ask me anything and between racking sobs he asked if I would look after the statue of the Virgin Mary he had on his dresser.

This statue is in some of my earliest childhood memories. In fact the dresser my Dad kept it on was the same dresser that was in my parents room when I was growing up. My mother, who was a devout Catholic all her life, except near the end of her long illness, had Mary on their dresser in their bedroom as far back as I can remember. Daily, every Sunday for the all the years I lived there, my mom always lit a votive candle and placed it in front of her. Even during the first 10 years of her protracted illness, before she was hospitalized the last time before she passed, though she could barely rise from her chair and walk she lit the candle to the Virgin Mary and, with pain in her voice from her illness said her Rosary. I remember before growing up as a child doing the Stations of the Cross at Scared Heart Church in Bloomfield with her during lent with my own Rosary beads.

Anyway, crying and very distressed my dad told me that this statue was one of his fondest remembrances of my mother, and it was one of her most beloved ties to her Catholic heritage and family. He further went on to state he would be unable to rest, as he knew he would not be around much longer, if he did not know it would be looked after.

He realized that my brother and I were not actively practicing our religious heritage and so was worried about asking one of us to keep a religious article on display. He then mentioned that I was the more emotional or sensitive one, and I was "your mother's baby" as he put it, so he was asking me. I hugged my dad and calmed him down and promised I would look after her. He seemed quite relieved by this. We hugged each other tightly for awhile, both of us stopped crying, and we soon returned to his girlfriend and my kids.

So, my friend, I brought her back 720 miles carefully wrapped in blankets back to Michigan, where she sits today on my dresser, with one of my mom's sets of Rosary beads around her. (Note: I had to move her some time after writing this e-mail. Tails was so intrigued by the statue, in fact she would often use the hands of Mary's outstretched arms to scratch her chin, I feared she would fall, so I moved her high atop the cabinet of my entertainment system.)

Mary is but one remembrance I have displayed. On the hall outside the bedrooms in my house I have three framed pictures of my mom and dad when they were in their 20's. There is one of each separate, and one wedding photo. It is my memorial area so to speak. I enjoy seeing them thus; happy and in the prime of life, just starting out together as man and wife! (Another Note: I recently began keeping my Dad's World War II uniform cap on the wall of kitchen by the front door. Originally when I tried to do this last summer it upset Danielle too much and I put it away. I brought it out last Father's day and she seemed fine with it so I did not pack it back away.)

Every time I see the Virgin Mary statue, I get a tug on the heart strings reminding me of my love of my parents, and that tear filled day my Dad asked me to give her a home. As he did with me, when the time comes, I will pick a suitable child to entrust her care to. In this way I hope Mary will always have a home in my family, and the lineage of the Falco Family and a story, will be passed on from generation to generation.

Perhaps it was that he knew I had kids, and my brother did not, may have also factored into him asking me. Like so many things around my parents, I will never know, because, as I have come to regret, and will undoubtedly do many times down the road, there are so many things I should have asked my Dad but never did.

Damn! I must dry my eyes now before any of my co-workers stumble upon me in this emotional state! This will teach me to type up things like this on my lunch break!

4 comments:

David Louis Harter said...

Chris,

That is an absolutely wonderful story! Reading it made me wet-eyed, and I thank you SO MUCH for sharing it!

- David

Bev from PA said...

I'd love to respond but there are tears in my eyes.

Chris said...

Bev, ever re-working the email had m close to sobbing, and heavy on the missing my parents!

Chris said...

David - I am happy to share with good friends like yourself!