I love the selfless soul of Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Tiny but mighty, wasn't she? Her actions spoke louder than words, though her messages are a powerful melody. In the days before my mom died, I came across her simple but profound phrase, "Be the one." I've read she wrote this underneath an image of Psalm 142, "I looked for one that would comfort me, and I found no one." Here she lived joyfully as the one for others, giving her life to the poor, and experienced interior darkness. Incredible. Also incredible that she subtly left these three little words for us to act upon for the greater good of the world.
When I reflect on the night of my mom's Alzheimer's, I remember the people who showed up in a Mother Teresa way doing and speaking little things that have left a significant impact on me.
When I hosted book club after rescheduling it a few times and was driving back from my mom's late that afternoon, Teresa bought and delivered the food for the evening without me asking.
Last summer, after I said I didn't feel like buying any outdoor flowers, Teresa surprised me first thing the next morning by planting a flower arrangement in my front yard flower pot.
On so many of the days when I was traveling to my mom's, Teresa called me to check-in, offering to take me to breakfast or lunch. Disappointed I couldn't meet her, I feasted on the conversation that made the drives more enjoyable.
When my spirit needed a lift, Teresa showed up in the heart of a male friend who spoke the very words I needed to hear to keep me moving forward and upward.
When my mom would call me several times at work, an atmosphere where phones are to be out of sight, Teresa lived in the manager who was always understanding, telling me to take the calls.
Teresa arrived in the countless friends and strangers, each in their unique way, to encourage me, help me, and love me through the moments when I didn't recognize I needed support.
Ultimately, Teresa lived in the women who took care of my mom, all of them. Even the caregiver who lasted only three days and ran over the mailbox backing out of the driveway. (A story for another time!). But seriously. Can you imagine someone telling you they'll be with you until the end of something, anything, especially when it is a great challenge? When not even related to you by blood?
"Marie, no matter what, and regardless of how difficult it gets, we are going to stay with you and your mom until the very end."
God miraculously sent me Teresas, who became my sisters and helped care for my mom as if she was their mother. They persevered through the complicated dynamics caused by Alzheimer's and selflessly gave of themselves entirely and whole-heartedly without expecting anything in return. With joy. With reverence. With devotion. With comfort. They were The One. Until the very end of my mom's life. The. Very. End. What an incredible gift!
Bless those who genuinely give a piece of their heart through the gentle work of their hands, kind words, and selfless actions to bring love and beauty to the world. Today, help me recognize the Mother Teresas in my life who show up unannounced and offer little things that have a lasting effect. Then, shepherd me to pay it forward and joyfully be the one for someone else and ask for nothing in return.