My Mom — On Life and Death

“I believe” she told me one day, “that when you are born the ‘spark’ comes into you”.  I attempted to have her tell me what she thought that ‘spark’ was.  The Italian translation was ‘light’.  She went on, “then when you die, it leaves—goes out—gone”.  “All that remains is trash.”

She was Roman Catholic Italian and if you have interacted with many from that genre, they are different.  Roman Catholics compress dogma, culture, ethnicity and beliefs to suit their purposes.  Italians actually shaped the religion to accommodate their convenience, understanding, politics or the curse or blessing they were looking to apply to any specific imminent situation.

Now many years later, I ponder, “What is the ‘light?”  Obviously, breath fits; but then so does the ‘soul’, knowledge, or even God.  The statement is open to interpretation–kind of like a parable.

This conversation was not unlike many of Mom’s pronouncements—again viewed from way afar.  I believe now that this and others I will share will indeed prove Mom to have spoken in parables.  She did not give the answer, even though at seven you were certain she had. At 57, you were still contemplating the question and in the intervening years you had supplied many different answers.  In keeping with your Italian brand of Roman Catholicism, you shaped the answer to accommodate your current circumstances.

Mom, however, revered life.  She had a daily mantra upon waking of thanking God for another day.  She repeated the mantra at bedtime.

Death, on the other hand, she dealt with differently.  Once at her brother’s viewing I watched her go up to the casket and pull some coins out of her purse and place them in her brother’s pockets.  “Why Mom?” was the question.  The answer was a problem for me for years, at least until I was older and began to understand that not everything has logic.

She said, “The dead must have money not to get themselves into purgatory or heaven, but to be able to give some to others who cannot get there by their good works in life.”   Doesn’t it just ‘blow your mind’—charity continues on your trip on to heaven.