Thursday, February 11, 2010

Parting Blessings




*While I know that this story is not a barrel of laughs, there is a rather amusing story about me in college. I am going to include this in my friend Wendy's "Life is Funny" blog carnival, because this is probably as amusing as I will be for a while. *




Goodbye.
This phrase comes from God be with you. It has been shortened over the years since 16th century. Shakespeare used "God be wy you." The substitution for good for God seems to have been mainly due to the influence of such phrases as " good day" and " good night."
Dictionary of Word Origins


I found out that "goodbye" was the way they said "God be with you" in the old days when I was in third grade. I thought that by "old days" they meant when my Momma was in school, because that is how she always said goodbye to me. I thought it was like her spelling potato with an e: that's how they did it when she was a kid.
I took her little turn of phrase for granted throughout my childhood. This was just her way. It was like polish sausage and pierogi on Easter: that's just how we do it. I didn't give it a second thought until I was in college.
One day, when I was in college (a commuter school), my friends Don and Whitney come to pick me up so we can go out for pizza. I think we may have been going to see a movie also, but that isn't important. What is important is the conversation that followed.

Whitney: Your mom does know we are going to bring you back, doesn't she?
Me: (confused) Huh? I DO always have cab fare in case a car breaks down or something.
Whitney: No, what I mean is, she sent you off as if you might not be returning. I only see that kind of goodbye in war movies.
Me: (groan) Sorry. I don't pay much attention to it anymore. I think because Catherine died, Momma needs to make sure she blesses me and tells me she loves me, kind of to protect me from dying on her, too...
Whitney: Don't apologize. I think it's sweet. Your mom obviously loves you a lot.

That was the beginning of me noticing her blessing again. I wish I could say I appreciated it, but many times, even a few months ago, I'd say "I'll be fine. I'm only going next door to give them the mail we got by mistake." And she'd say "That's okay, I can still bless you."
When daddy died though, I did get better about appreciating her blessing when I'd actually leave the neighborhood. I understood that she cherished me, because after losing Daddy, I found myself cherishing her more as well. I felt the need to bless her right back. Not that I didn't say "and also with you" when she said "God be with you" before. But after Daddy's passing, it went from rote to heartfelt.
I taught in a Catholic School for thirteen years, and at each dismissal, my last words to them were "God be with you." It was heart felt. I wanted them to be blessed and safe. I wanted them to return to me the next day. Though they were not my own children, I understood Mom a little better.
The last few months at home, Momma became even more concerned with blessing me. Each night before I went to bed, she'd say "I love you. God be with you." I laughed and said "Momma, I am going to bed with a sweet loving husband, not into the jaws of the enemy." She'd say "I know that. I just want to bless you." I would then respond. "And I love you. God be with you, too, Momma."

Yesterday I shared with you my pain that I was not there when my Momma died. The thought had occurred to me a few days ago that she might have wanted to say something to me before she died, and I was not there to hear it. I woke up in the middle of the night the day of her wake to realize, she said her last words to me EVERY time we parted since i began school. Before then I don't believe we actually ever parted.
She said to me and Bob before we left her the night before. "I love you both. God be with both of you." And we truly responded "We love you, too, Mom. God be with you, too."
We parted from each other with a blessing on our lips. What more could there have ever been to say?

11 comments:

Steph @Red Clay Diaries said...

This is beautiful Helen.

Annie K said...

And now Momma's with God, and that truly is a blessing.

Beautifully said Helen.

Candace Jean July 16 said...

Heartfelt. What a joy that her words never became rote to you.

God be with you.

Stacey said...

Helen, this is an incredibly beautiful post. Thanks for sharing it.

jasonS said...

You're messing me up with these posts. They are so beautiful. Thanks.

By the way, polish sausage and pirogies for Easter!? That's what my grandma always made (I miss her so much- & not just because of that). You instantly made me hungry.

Water Shack Lady said...

I am certain that the second thing your Mother did when she reached her destination was to thank God and tell Him to bless Himself for giving her you and your love.

The first thing she did of course was to greet all of her loved ones as they gathered around her.
Perhaps then she had a most heavenly cup of rose hip tea.

katdish said...

Wonderful. Beautifully written. You're so good at this, Helen.

Wendy said...

Have I ever told you how happy it made me that I got to talk to Mom on the phone? Made me feel pretty special. Love Mom. Love you. God be with you both.

Bernadette Pabon ,Teacher, Director of CCD, Author said...

Helen, thats a wonderful way to remember your mom. I loved the story. You are also a blessing to many people.

♥ Kathy said...

That was so beautifully written Helen. Much love ♥

pip said...

I never knew that about "God be with you" morphing into 'goodbye'

Its great that you and your mom shared so many blessings, and you had that exchange of love on so many partings. It surely happened at the end too, although you were in different places :)