Family and friends filled St Helena’s church in the Bronx, New York on a cold and snowy morning January first, 1968. I sat in the front pew anxiously waiting for mom and dad to walk down the aisle as they did twenty five years before. Excitement and anticipation filled the air as we waited for the organist to start playing.
My parents said their final vows to one another and the mass ended. They turned around with big smiles on their faces and started walking back down the aisle. Mom suddenly collapsed and fell to the floor with a loud bang.
My heart raced and my hands sweated as I struggled to hold back the tears. I felt terrified not knowing what was going on. I knelt at the altar, looked up at the cross and prayed.
Please God don’t let my mother die. I need her. My mother died in the church before the fire department arrived. That was over 40 years ago.
Yet, she stills keeps in contact with me – mostly through songs. The music played softly in the background as I sat on my living room couch. I jumped up and turned up the volume to hear the words better. “Honey I miss you and I’m being good. An angel came and took her away.” As I sat on the floor and listened, the tears ran down my cheeks and goose bumps spread across my body. My mother’s name was Honey.
The song Honey by Bobby Goldsboro was written shortly after my mother died over 40 years ago on New Year’s Day. To this day, I still hear the song and it touches me as deeply as it did the first day I heard it. I know its mom communicating with me and letting me know she’s with me.
Being twenty years old when my mother died wasn’t easy, especially when I got married and started having children. When I became pregnant with my third child, I prayed for a little girl and often heard the song Honey during my pregnancy. As the nurses wheeled me into the delivery room, after ten hours of labor, I heard Honey playing over the loud speaker.
Fast forward ten years. A job opportunity opened up for my husband and we jumped at it, even though it was in Rhode Island, hundreds of miles away from where we lived. My husband started his new job in Rhode Island and couldn’t be with us the day we moved. I tearfully said goodbye to my friends and family. The only thing left in the house was the radio on the mantel piece. As I sat on the den floor saying goodbye to the house my children were born in, it finally hit me that we were leaving our friends and family. I suddenly felt afraid and anxious, not knowing what the future would bring. I prayed and asked God for strength and courage. As I sat there quietly praying, I heard Honey playing on the radio. Filled with gratitude and peace, I thanked God, knowing that everything would work out.
My dad died of cancer 10 years ago. I felt helpless watching him suffer and lose his ability to walk and feed himself on his own. He could no longer stay at home as his illness progressed. While in the hospital, the doctors tried to keep him alive with more operations and procedures. My step mom Anne couldn’t accept he was dying and expressed her hopes for his recovery. Depressed and despondent, dad no longer possessed the will to live and would no longer talk to me when I called on the phone. While the doctors discussed yet another procedure at his bedside, he looked up at my step mom and the doctors and screamed. “Leave me alone, I want to go home.” At that moment my step mom’s denial broke and she was finally ready to let him go. A few hours later, he passed away peacefully with her at his side.
I waited anxiously by the phone, pacing back and forth waiting for Anne to call me. “Pat, your dad died fifteen minutes ago.” Dead silence that seemed like an eternity. “I’m so sorry……… Are you all right?” I asked. “He suffered so. He’s out of pain now.”
I hung up the phone and cried as I rocked in the rocking chair by myself. Later, I walked around my house in a daze, not wanting to believe that he was dead. God, I’m alone now. With both mom and dad dead, I feel like I’m an orphan. I needed to get some fresh air and clear my head. I took a walk and looked up in the sky and said, God please allow me to feel my dad’s presence.
I dragged myself to the consignment shop to look for a dress to wear for the funeral. I couldn’t concentrate and half heartedly looked through the racks of clothing trying to find a dress. And then…..Honey began playing on the radio. I stood frozen in place for a few minutes, then put my face in my hands and sobbed. The owner of the shop walked over to me. I looked up when she asked,“Are you alright? What’s wrong?” “My father just died,” I blurted out through sobs and tears. I explained to her about the significance of the song Honey that had just played on the radio.
I know my mother is with me even though it has been over 40 years since she died. I feel her presence and love, especially when I need her the most. She shows up in the most unexpected places.
A Chapter from Pat’s book, Simply a Woman of Faith
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