Beloved Nona

Although she could not attend the Rose of Tralee Festival in Ireland, her heart was with Grace last month – as it has always been.

I still recall the day 20 years ago when she walked into our little apartment in California with outstretched arms willing her first grandchild to come to her.  Bright smile, generous heart, and beautiful soul accompanies Mom wherever she goes.  Grace would be the beneficiary of Mom’s love during her entire childhood – Irish dance competitions, school plays, grandparent days at Montrose School, birthdays, proms and so much more.  Moms unconditional love continues to be showered upon every grandchild with her characteristic joy and love of life.

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It is because mom has taught us to love so deeply, that we find this time of her suffering especially painful. In response to the many emails and calls  from concerned friends and family, I dedicate this blog post to my beloved Mom as we accompany her to heaven in the final days of her earthly journey.

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I wrote the following thoughts while sitting with Mom at her home a few days ago. At the time, she was still speaking and affirming us of her love, her faith in God and in her belief of His perfect plan.  I believe the Holy Spirit inspired me to reflect upon the beauty and goodness of her incredible soul and life lived for others as a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend and nurse.

Joan Mary Franciose Powers is a woman of deep faith, uncharacteristic optimism and unfailing hope. She has taught her children to love without boundaries or judgement – something quite exceptional in the world today. She is the rarest of gems – a person whose soul truly shines brightest in the midst of challenge. A person whose soul is so closely aligned with our Lord and Blessed Mother that only goodness and love pour forth from her very presence.  She has been married to the love of her life, Joseph Hugh Powers, for the past 52 years. Together, they created a family united in faith and God’s love.

They say that metal becomes stronger when stricken by fire and the same holds true for humans when tested by difficulties. I can attest that Mom has grown stronger and more beautiful during her lifetime because she has bore her challenges with faith and courage. Darkness has enveloped her at times throughout 75 years, but never as much as this current battle with cancer. Mom has valiantly fought this cowardly disease with every ounce of her being for the past 3 years but now her body is tired – the cancer has taken over too much of it. Despite the fatigue though, she has carried on as a dedicated disciple of Christ – one who does not give up or even question a difficult plight – rather embraces it, prays and trusts in God’s grace and mercy.  She has picked up this cross and carried it with a quiet faith that comes from complete trust in God and the promise of eternal life.

Over these past 3 years, mom and I have shared many spiritually deep and profound moments where she has taught me how to live in joy and in suffering – never feeling sorry for oneself. From visiting the Adoration Chapel together, to praying the rosary on car rides to Dana Farber. Each time spent together in prayer was a chance to unite our current suffering with that of our Lord who died on the cross for all of us so that we too may enter paradise, where there is no more pain.   Mom’s life reflected this belief – our earthly home is temporary and while here it is our responsibility to act with unconditional love and an open heart.  From setting an extra place at our table to preparing an extra bed at holidays, Mom lived this truth better than anyone I will ever know.  We are called to follow in her footsteps to make this world a better place.

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Mom’s time remaining on this earth is short, but her beautiful soul is just beginning its life in eternity where she will watch over us with constant love. In these last few days at the Hospice Center, she has assured me of that.  She has quietly whispered “I love you” and even in the midst of her pain is still giving. There could be no greater gift.

And now we are called to turn our eyes to Jesus in this time of deepest sorrow and ask Him to hold Mom – and all of us – in the palm of His hand. Only then will peace be realized. Mom would not want us to weep for her, rather to rejoice in where she is going and to trust that from her heavenly home, she “can do all things through Him who strenghthens me.”

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