Monday, December 20, 2010

True Christmas Miracle

Her children had joined a strange church with a strange new Bible.

"Today I will be baptized in the Mormon church," said her daughter, Martha.

"I will baptize you myself!" she said.

Catalina dumped a bucket of ice cold water on the head of her daughter and sent her away. She lit candles and prayed to The Virgin on behalf of her wayward children.

It seemed almost more than she could bare.

Catalina was a single mother.  She worked on the other side of The Border washing and ironing the clothes of wealthy families. 

There was never enough food.  The house was freezing.  Her children had no coats.  She was alone and exhausted.  Yet she continued to work long hours for meager pay and brought home what little she could for her family.

Her sister had died some years earlier leaving Catalina to raise her nieces and nephews as well.

The tiny house in Agua Prieta, Mexico was loud with the roar of empty stomachs and her own frustrated reprimands. 

Her life seemed Hopeless. 

Somtimes when I am in the middle of a sentence my mother will gasp and say, "Oh! You look so much like my mother right now!  She looked just like this when she was your age."

The dress I wear here was fabricated at the time my Abuelita, was my age.  She often wore simple black dresses with boatneck cuts .  The shape and length of the dress is exactly what she would have worn to Mass.

(I purchased this Velvet dress for $16.50 and added the sash for a bit of Christmas flare.  I hoped to resemble a Christmas Gift with an enormous gold bow as I conducted the Christmas music for the little ones yesterday at church .  The bow is a bit off-center in this pic but you get the idea.  :)

Catalina began to see changes in her daughters after they joined The Mormon church.  She saw the darkness go out of them.  Light beamed from their eyes.  They smiled more.  They laughed more. 

The great change she saw was Hope.  Her children had been as Hopeless as she.  They had been hungry.  Hungry for food.  Hungry for Peace.  Hungry for God.

Against her better judgment, Catalina began speaking with the Gringo Mormon missionaries her children so adored. 

They spoke to her of Forever Families.  They spoke to her of Christ coming to the Land of her Ancestors and ministering unto them.  They spoke of Eternal Joy.  They taught her the measure of her creation was to have Joy.

"Men are that they might have Joy."

Slowly Hope crept in.  It filled her chest like the flame of a candle and soon became a raging fire.

Catalina was baptized.

Christmas was upon them.  The Joy of a newfound faith, however, was not enough to fill the emptiness caused by extreme poverty in a single-parent home.  There was a hole that needed desperatly to be filled.

She wrote a note to her estranged husband.  They had been seperated for 7 years.

"Take this note to your father, Martha," she said.

My mother and her brother found their father having a social drink with his buddies in a local pub.  He put out the cigarette in his hand and took the note.

The note informed him that if he did not return to The House by nightfall he would never be welcome there again.

He hid a tight-lipped smile.  He knew this was her way of saying,

"I want us to be a family again.  I love you.  Please don't leave me lonely on Christmas."

My Abuelito returned to his family that night.

My mother and her siblings witnessed A CHRISTmas Miracle. 

Love triumphed over all.  They were filled with Hope and Food.  There were gifts and hugs and warmth. 

My grandfather also joined the strange Mormon church.  He forsook his smoking habit, which he had aquired at the manly age of 14.  He ceased drinking alcohol and even coffee.

He lived and died for his family.

On his deathbed he praised God for his children and his family.  He had them all gather around his bed and sing a popular Mormon Hymn.

Sobs choked their throats as they sang,

When you look at others with their lands and gold
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold
Count your many Blessings
Money Cannnot Buy
Your reward in Heaven, nor your Home on High.

The End