I just know that when the saints go marching in, my mother, Gladys Vaz Morais will be among them. She knew how to go places, and Heaven was always on her list of places to get to. In the waning days of her long and useful life she struggled with the thought that getting there meant leaving behind the family she loved and nourished in every possible way. She got things done, making sure, through war, and illness, and crises of every kind, that things never fell apart,that the center always held: this beautiful woman with a soft heart, high standards, a strong faith, and busy hands.
Hands that baked and iced exquisite cakes. Hands that cooked feasts for neighbors and friends and family. Hands that sewed dresses for my sister and for me–and whoever else was living with us then. I remember a particular favorite, a dress with dancing ladies in skirts of many colors appliqued at intervals along the hem. It was a dress that made me happy, and want to swish my skirt.
Hands that fed my children and sent them off to school, and received them when school was out, and kept them entertained till I got home from work. I am ever grateful that my mother brought me, a six month old baby back with her to then British Malaya from Trivandrum, Kerala where I was born.
I have no idea what course my life might have taken had she left me behind with my grandmother. But I do know this: anything that is good in me is there because I grew up in her orbit and because we–my brothers and my sister and I–were so very blessed in our parents. We can only try to pass on that blessing.
And Mum, I hope you are listening: on this the first anniversary of your passing, I have only one request: political junkie that you are, send souls to the polls, won’t you? We are in a right royal mess of an election here in the United States. There is a candidate running for President that you would dismiss as a “kiraken,” (i.e. nutjob). We can use all the help we can get to make sure the White House does not fall into his hands.
And here one more time, is the devotional song you taught Zubin and Sheela Jane and that she sang so many times back to you from afar.
O God, as I put my hands together in praise, listen to my prayer.
Pitiful and poor as I am, I implore your protection.
Instill deep within me a fear of God,
And grant that I may see you always.
Guide me on the straight path,
Turning my sorrows into ashes.
Keep those who are cruel and evil away from me,
Let my friends be good and kind.
Instill in me the desire to do good deeds,
The ability to give good advice.
And grant me the discernment I need to do my duty,
The strength I need to disclose the truth.
Peace, gentle heart.