When my mom told me that the date Susan and I picked for our wedding was also my grandma’s birthday, I knew we finally had the right day. We like things to not be totally about ourselves, which is why we also love having birthdays a day apart. Instead of one day of ME ME ME, we get a far superior two day (or sometimes three day) celebration of US!
By almost-90 my grandma had become lactose-intolerant, so my lactose-free cake would serve dual purposes. At half time (our wedding reception was a K-State football watch party), I stepped onto the stage of the theater we’d rented and we all sang “Happy Birthday,” welcoming Mary Ellen Moses into her 90s with a piece of cake and a candle.
When I came down from the stage to congratulate her, she pulled me in for a hug and told me this story:
“Carl and I spent our first married years in the mission fields. We went all over Central America, from town to town, village to village. It was always hard going to a new place, being the outsider. So whenever we were ready for a new church, the Lord would bless us with a new baby.”
My grandma had white wavy hair, cut short, and thick glasses, but what was most distinctive about her was her voice. She sounded like Meryl Streep impersonating Julia Child, or rather Meryl Streep sounded like she was impersonating my grandma. At least that’s what I told Susan when we saw Julie & Julia in the theater.
“The townspeople would see us coming and then they’d see the baby and just light up. They’d want to hold it and play with it and it would be like we were old friends in no time.”
This was back before Susan and I decided to come back to the Church—the Catholic Church for her and Christianity in general for me—before the long study of the Catechism, priest podcasts, RCIA, and NFP blog after NFP blog. It was also several years before we decided to start trying for our own little ice-breaker, our own little blessing.
When I did learn about the Church’s teachings on the family, this story came to mind. And now as we say good-bye to Grandma Moses and Susan and I gear up to make our own move, I only hope our baby can help make the transition a positive one—just like my mom and her six siblings did for my grandparents.
I have no doubt that Mary Ellen, the matriarch of over a dozen families, is on her way to Heaven right now. Please pray for her as she makes this one final journey.