Thursday, 16 October 2014

It was Martha

Originally posted, October 16, 2006 and edited for today. Please see the N.B. at the end.


+ Martha Joan Stephen Domet +

August 15, 1915 - October 16, 2006

Martha on her 90th birthday
Eight years ago today, in her 92nd year, my mother was called home to the LORD. She was a woman of great faith in God and she taught many lessons to all of those who came into contact with her. This was especially true in her last few years. She suffered the loss of her first grandson and then her first son, both from cancer and she bore much physical suffering with faith, trust and humility.

Today, October 16 according to the calendar for the usus antiquior or the Traditional Latin Mass calendar is the Feast of St. Hedwig a medieval Polish duchess who died on October 14, 1243. She was also maternal aunt of St. Elizabeth of Hungary which incidentally was my maternal grandmother's name. So it was then for me a rather serendipitous moment when at the Mass which I attended earlier that day, the Epistle was read from the First Letter of Blessed Paul the Apostle to Timothy:

"Dearly beloved: Honour widows that are widows indeed. But if any widow have children, or grandchildren, let her learn first to govern her own house, and to make a return of duty to her parents: for this is acceptable before God. But she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, let her trust in God and continue in supplications and prayers night and day. For she that liveth in pleasures is dead while she is living. And this give in charge, that they may be blameless. But if any man have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel. Let a widow be chosen of no less than threescore years of age, who hath been the wife of one husband having testimony for her good works, if she have brought up children, if she have received to harbour, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have ministered to them that suffer tribulation, if she have diligently followed every good work."

The Gospel was the parable about the "pearl of great price." Martha spent her life auctioning all for that pearl. I believe she found it. A few days before she died we had a conversation and she told me that whenever God was ready to call her, she was ready to go.

We often hear or read of those things that are “unexplained” except by coincidence, of course. To those who know and love God, “there are no coincidences.” Not even the fact that the Epistle at Mass chosen was one of two from the "Common of Holy Women" or that she spoke only a few days before about being "ready" nor about what you are about to read below.

That day started like many others. I woke my son for school, I got ready for work and before dashing out the door I took Roxy, our terrier mutt to stay with her, kissed both of them good-bye and while bidding her adieu the first home care girl was arriving to help her get ready for the day and stay with her whilst I was at work.

At around 1:00 PM the second caregiver, Bridget, arrived for the shift-change. As Bridget arrived she came into the family room, the other caregiver had just sat  mum down on the sofa. My mother had only moments earlier complained of difficulty breathing and then she laid back, gasped and closed her eyes. Bridget yelled out her name, “Martha, Martha!” and gently slapped her. She stirred and let out a breath, she collapsed on the sofa.

At that moment, my mother died.

I got the call at work from Bridget and on the way home it was clear from speaking to the paramedics that she was gone. They were working on her with adrenalin and the heart paddles but were not having any success. I told them to stop but they would not, there was no DNR posted.

I spoke to Bridget and told her that a priest from the local parish was on his way (the Sacrament of the Sick, what we used to call Extreme Unction had already been administered by one of her faithful Oratorian Priests a few weeks earlier.) I asked Bridget to go to my mother’s bedroom and retrieve the sick visit Crucifix from the wall above her bed. (This is a Crucifix which slides off and is placed in a stand; on either side are then candle holders and some of the necessary items for the Sacrament).

A few minutes later, I arrived screeching in the driveway the importance of which will reveal itself shortly. When I arrived my mother’s eyes were open and she was semi-conscious; technology, it seemed had triumphed, at least for now. Father arrived a few moments later and anointed her. She was transported to “St. Joe’s” where my father also died, and we removed the medical intervention around 5:00 PM., it was clear that the technology that brought her back was keeping her here and that if we did not remove this invasion she would suffer worse indignities. An Oratorian priest came to bless her again and to counsel us on the rightness of our decision to remove the intervention. Just after 8:00 P.M., I went outside for some air and a smoke with my niece. A few minutes later my sister came running to get me. She had just gone out of the room to the nurses desk to make a phone call. My sister was not out of the room a half-minute and no more than 5 metres away and our mother died. It was like she could not let herself go whilst we were with her.

So, what does this have to do with coincidence?

The next day I called Bridget and asked her to stay on for a few more days to be at the house to tidy and answer the phone and assist with guests. Bridget was quite upset to be sure. She had been with my mother daily for the last year and often spoke of how well she was always treated and “their little talks.”

She came to me with apprehension and said that she really needed to talk to me about something.

The paramedics, with all of their intervention, brought her back. It took 14 minutes from the time they began to get a pulse. Had she every regained full consciousness her life would have been horrible, we all knew that. But what was disturbing Bridget was that there was no reaction to their work; nothing, until my car screeched to a halt in the driveway.

“I have a pulse!” exclaimed the paramedic. It was simultaneous and with my arrival at home -- it was simultaneous with the screeching of my tires. 

David was home and his mom came back to see him.

But there is more, much more.

Bridget began to shake and was in tears.

“David, I had a dream Sunday night," my mother having died on Monday. She went on to say that she had typically forgotten the dream until she went to my mother’s bedroom to get the Crucifix. Upon seeing Jesus on the Cross the dream came back to her for just a moment. Again, it was gone. The house after all was a mass of confusion, police, fire-fighters, the paramedics, and eventually me, and the Priest; Bridget was now a bystander.

After we left for the hospital, Bridget was alone and tidying up and it was what happened then that she was so desperate to tell me. She will never forget it. Nor will I as Bridget recalled for me her dream.

“I was standing on a street-corner in small town with other people. We were laughing at this man dressed in a robe and with long-hair. He said his name was Jesus and we were making fun of him. Just then a young beautiful woman stepped off of the curb and started to cross the street; she turned around and looked at us, she had tears in her eyes, tears of overwhelming joy, she was happy, really happy. It was then that Jesus took her hand and walked across the road with her.”

That was Bridget’s dream.

She went on to say that when she woke up from her dream. She interpreted it that she needed to be more like the woman who walked across the street. That she needed to have “more faith in Jesus.”

I told her that it seemed like a pretty plausible conclusion.

“Wait” Bridget said, “There is more.”

I waited and listened and she started to cry again.

“David, I remembered the dream only for a moment when carrying the Cross. When I was tidying up I put the Cross on the end-table -- over there.”

“Yes, it looks nice there” I replied.

“No, David, you don’t understand, the picture, the picture beside the Cross.”

“Yes, Bridget, what is it?”

“That picture of your mother at graduation.” Bridget started to weep uncontrollably 

“It was her; it was your mother; she was the girl in my dream, it was Martha.”

and this...

Nota Bene: Please say a prayer for Bridget; I've not seen her since then but I know she suffered from the affects of an abortion forced on her by her mother and family doctor when she was 19. That doctor was a former Toronto Coroner, Member of the Legislature in Ontario and broadcaster. He also suffered from Parkinson's and was desperate for a cure, so much so that Bridget exclaimed, "Dr. (Morton) Shulman ate my baby." She was told by the nurse that he would dry out the fetus and grind it into powder and then in capsules in a desperate attempt to find a cure for the disease that ravaged his body.  

Vox, 2014

1 comment:

Barona said...

A most lovely post about an exquisitely beautiful and holy, Catholic mother.