May 12, 2019

Friends,

There are certain expressions that stay with you for a lifetime once you hear them. I’ve mentioned to you before that a good friend of mine from New Orleans concludes every one of her letters to me with the words “In my conversations with God your name always comes up.” I feel the same way about the words on the front of this weeks bulletin “If God had a wallet, I’m sure your picture would be in it.” This is especially true as we direct those words to our mothers on this Mother’s Day.

I often think that one of my greatest discoveries was the day I realized how human my parents were. That is not something that entered our minds as children-they were just my mother and father. I believe this was true for all those who grew up years ago. In my home that meant they were to be respected and feared. They were the parents, you were the child. You asked the questions, they had the answers. There wasn’t a lot of dialogue or conversation regarding your behavior. You knew what was expected of you and you responded appropriately. My parents worked hard to give their three children the opportunities to be educated and to provide for us. They were also faithful Catholics so there was no question about whether we went to Church. Our Roslindale/West Roxbury neighborhood played a major role in my upbringing. It was a very homogenous community so there were many families attempting to raise their children the same way. My parents were very aware of the friends we made and how those relationships affected our behavior. I would say there was no question about the love my parents had for us. At the same time, it was not necessarily expressed physically or verbally. I just knew it.

I mention coming to the realization of the humanity of your parents. That can be traumatic for some because we (especially years ago) just never thought of our parents as having a history or a background. They were just there. Once you know something of their family life and upbringing it can have a profound impact on your understanding of them as human beings like yourself. They’ve had good days and bad days, successes and defeats, triumphs and tragedies. I now remind myself that we were all young once. I try to imagine my mother’s excitement when graduating from high school, my father enlisting in the U.S. Army, Eleanor and Dan Coyne falling in love. They brought their life experiences (positive and negative) with them into their marriage. As I reflect on this now, I know how blessed I was to have the family I was born into and how hard my parents worked to make it a happy home.

Sometimes I walk by a house on Averton Street in Roslindale and picture my mother and her siblings playing in the yard and on the street as children. I wish I knew her then.

Happy Mother’s Day!
Father Coyne

 

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