May 7, 2021

Reflection / John Shaughnessy

A suprising call, a mother’s gift

John ShaughnessyOne of my favorite moments of the past year—and maybe all time—has my mom at the heart of it.

The moment happened on a late Saturday night last fall—right around midnight. Minutes before, the football team of the University of Notre Dame had just upset the number-one-ranked team in the country with a dramatic, come-from-behind win in double overtime. My wife and I were still hugging, high-fiving and dancing in our living room when the phone rang. I figured it was one of our children or one of my Notre Dame friends calling to share in the joy and the excitement.

Instead, it was the last person I expected to be calling—my mom, who is 92. The reason I say she was the last person I expected to be calling has little to do with her age. It’s because she has long been a charter member of that group of mothers who live their lives like the old U.S. Army slogan: “They do more by nine in the morning than most people do in an entire day.” She usually gets up at five in the morning and heads to bed at eight at night. And as long as I’ve known her, her routine has never included staying up to watch any kind of game.

Yet, here she was near midnight, phoning her older son who lives 600 miles from her, and she was talking excitedly about how she had watched the game, what a great game it was, and how much we all needed something so joyful like that to happen in the midst of a pandemic.

Then her voice lowered as she mentioned my father, her husband, a forever-loyal Notre Dame fan who had died the year before. “I hope your dad saw that game,” she said. When I assured her that he had, her joy returned. She ended the call by saying she just wanted to share that joy with me.

It wasn’t until later that I thought about the true extent of that gift from her. In all the years of my relationship with my dad, even through some tough times between us, the tradition of calling each other after a Notre Dame game never wavered. And my mom was doing her part to continue that ritual that I dearly miss.

On this Mother’s Day, may you make the moments—and savor the memories—that bind a parent and child forever in love.

(John Shaughnessy is assistant editor of The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.)

Local site Links: