It was fall of 1973. I still remember doing homework one late afternoon at our kitchen table in northern Virginia. Abortion updates filled the news reels much like coronavirus does today. It prompted me to repeat some feministic slogan like “Women have a right to Choose” which I had picked up at public middle school. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I’ll never forget mom’s response. She wasn’t angry at me, but her passion was unlike anything I had seen before.
“STOP!” she said emphatically, as if I were reaching for a fiery stove. “You don’t know what you are saying!” she continued. “I carried you--inside my body! I loved you for nine months before you were born, not just after you were born. Life is a gift! It is always sacred!”
It was probably one of the best life lessons a mother could give a daughter.
My mom was born into a working class family, earned her high school education, and studied Voice Performance at the Peabody Preparatory of Music in Baltimore, Maryland. She relinquished a future in opera to marry her childhood sweetheart at the age of 19. Her only sibling arrived almost a decade after her, so Mom always dreamed of having a large family with children close together in age. Six years and seven months later there were five of us depending on her heroic love. Mom lacked the modern conveniences of disposable diapers and powdered formula, and, until she was 27-years old, a driver’s license. But, children placed first in her priorities; family ranked highest in her heart. “I have 60 people in my family,” she proudly shares today. Creating a circle of love defines my mom; it always has.
We lived just outside Washington, DC, the epicenter of the historic legal earthquake resulting from the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. It wasn’t long before Roe’s ticking time-bomb hit close to home. One summer afternoon in 1974, a 16-year-old neighbor friend of my eldest sister came running into our house. The screen door slammed behind her and in a rather shrill, hysterical voice she cried, “I killed my baby. I really do love babies.” Instantaneously, my aunt set about gently ushering all of the children out of the kitchen, and I stood outside the closed door wondering the meaning of my mom and aunt’s inaudible words and hushed tones interrupted by soulful sobs. Years later, I assembled the mosaic pieces of this memory and realized abortion had touched my life at an early age.
Mom volunteered for the prolife effort after our move to coastal Texas. For almost a decade, she worked alongside the Director of Respect Life for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and counseled women with crisis pregnancies. In addition, she and my dad sheltered expectant mothers who lacked support, resources or safe housing. She was also the grandmotherly voice that stood before middle and high school religion classes delivering information on human sexuality rooted in Christian anthropology and respect for self, others, and God’s sacred gift of life. She welcomed any question, understood a child’s natural curiosity, and provided calm, unvarnished answers. She possessed a matter-of-factness combined with homespun wisdom rooted in God’s Truth and a passion for the mystery of life.
In 2004, Mom combined her passion for life with another interest in children’s literature, and authored a prolife novel, Who Would Know? [target audience early to late teens] about a 16-year-old who navigates the challenges of unwed pregnancy. In the closing chapter, the young heroine writes a heartfelt letter to her unborn baby expressing that adoption is the gift of her deepest maternal love. My mother keeps a scrapbook of letters she has received from fans who read her book, including a touching one from the inmates at the women’s correctional facility in Harris County, TX, where it’s reported the book never stays on the shelf. [If interested, the book is available on Amazon or post a message at the end of this article].
Sometimes, we have to grow-up to fully process past experiences. This Mother’s Day, as you reconnect with the amazing woman who carried you until you entered the world, relive her stories, record her memories, give thanks for what is good, let go of what is not. And if my personal experience captured in this blog is any indicator, talk to your children and grandchildren about the consequences of abortion. Advertisements routinely warn parents of the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, but are silent when it comes to warning them about abusing God’s law of life. If you find it hard to initiate the subject, imagine your son or daughter reaching for a fiery stove. Spare them the pain and suffering which often tortures post-abortive men and women until they find healing.
My mom wrapped up our recent visit with this statement, “I value children – and pregnancy! No one comes fully grow. Everyone starts in microscopic form, but there is as much a human life then as when it is born. It changes, but it is always a HUMAN LIFE!”
Thanks, Mom, for giving me life, but also for the wise and beautiful life lessons. I’m sharing them with the digital world!
and serves as Director of Events and Outreach for the Hosea Initiative.
She writes from her home in southeastern Minnesota.