Last weekend, I took a ride over to Mom’s house for a visit with social distancing. Our new normal consists of Hubby and me standing by our Jeep while Mom and the rest of our family scatter throughout the front lawn at a six-foot distance, or we sit in her backyard with chairs spaced far apart. We don masks, we chat about goings-on in our lives and we enjoy each other’s company. Hubby and I aren’t sure when we’ll ever feel comfortable about entering homes or restaurants with Coronavirus lurking in the shadows, but for now, this feels safe. It was a rough winter for everyone, which meant we saw absolutely nobody until Mother’s Day. Every time we get together, it gets a little easier. It’s a gift that is easily taken for granted.
This weekend was a bit different from other trips to Madre’s home. As we sat in the backyard and chatted amicably about the weather and how lovely her yard looked, we heard a siren in the distance. Mom’s eyes lit up and her puppy’s ears perked up at the same time. “He’s coming! I knew he would!” She bolted out of her chair as though shot from a cannon and ran to the front yard. My sister called after her, “Santa doesn’t come around on the truck until November!” Our laughter drowned out Mom’s reply.
Imagine my surprise when I followed her out to the yard, a few moments later. Anton News’ own Father Ralph stood on a platform that appeared to be on the back of a flatbed truck, donned in white robes and a smile that blazed even brighter than his attire. He waved to Mom and offered her a blessing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her eyes shine that brightly.
Father Ralph’s truck was followed by several other vehicles in a processional line. Sirens blared as the blessings were bestowed. Mom murmured, “We all can’t go to church. This was the next best thing.” I swear, I’ve never seen her look as happy as she did on Sunday. It made my heart happy.
Mom told me that last week on St. Bernard’s website mass, Father Ralph announced that he wanted to offer hope and peace to the community and stated that he’d said something about coming around on a fire truck. She’d sat for services online that morning, and hoped she wouldn’t miss her favorite priest as he traveled through the streets of Levittown with a prayer and a smile for the masses, which included members of his congregation as well as others who may have needed a bit of strength in these trying times. It was truly inspiring, especially when I saw the joy that spread across my mama’s face. I didn’t receive a blessing, but my heart felt like it had. Thank you, Father Ralph, for bringing joy to my mom.
The pandemic and subsequent quarantine may have temporarily halted the economy, but it’s brought out the finer parts of humanity, in certain cases. Hairdressers took to YouTube to teach folks how to cut or color their own tresses. Performers offered free concerts online, while hosts of late-night television interviewed celebrities via Google Meet or Zoom. Even the Impractical Jokers began a series of shows, entitled “The Impractical Jokers Dinner Party”, where each of the guys appeared on a quad-split screen with a meal and some hilarious banter. Local news stations offered a glimpse of their homes while filming segments and everyone seemed a lot more down-to-earth. Teachers taught lessons from home via Google Meet, something my daughter had participated in since the beginning. What a joy to hear the joyful exchange of young voices as they eagerly offered their take on the lessons of the day. And then there’s Father Ralph’s approach, which took mass and the art of giving to a whole new level.
When we reflect upon what the quarantine taught us, we have every reason to be grateful. We became creative in our approach to life and work, we became excellent home chefs and bakers, and we learned a lot about ourselves and others in the process. Although Life took a breather, we continued to grow in ways that we couldn’t have imagined. It’s been said that we receive when we give to others. After what I’ve witnessed over the past few months of our nation’s dormancy and especially this past Sunday, I don’t think a truer word was ever spoken. May we keep the lessons and the growth, that we can bring hope and healing to those whose lives we touch.
Patty Servidio is an Anton Media Group columnist.