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What to Do When Your Mother Does Not Recognize You

By Fr. Kurt Zion Pala

Who is she? We asked our grandmother pointing to my mother. “My sister. You are the teacher.” My grandmother mumbled and whispered in her already weak voice.

Lola passed away at the young age of 96 years.

I could not imagine my own mother not recognizing me anymore. It would be the saddest thing to see our own mothers lost in their own world, unable to do what they used to do, to care for us and call out our names.

Lola passed away a few days ago – at a very young age of 96 years. Age had taken toll of her body but not her spirit. She remained feisty and strong. I had fun talking to her the last time I saw her. At my ordination, she came dressed in her white dress – like a little girl. 

St. Therese once wrote:

You know, Mother, that I have always wanted to be become a saint. Unfortunately when I have compared myself with the saints, I have always found that there is the same difference between the saints and me as there is between a mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds and a humble grain of sand trodden underfoot by passersby. Instead of being discouraged, I told myself: God would not make me wish for something impossible and so, in spite of my littleness, I can aim at being a saint. It is impossible for me to grow bigger, so I put up with myself as I am, with all my countless faults. But I will look for some means of going to heaven by a little way which is very short and very straight, a little way that is quite new[…] It is your arms, Jesus, which are the lift to carry me to heaven, And so there is no need for me to grow up. In fact, just the opposite: I must stay little and become less and less.

Lola dressed in white at my ordination
At my ordination, Lola came dressed in white.

Lola, to me, you are a saint. You reminded me not to depend on myself too much but grow little and less just like St. Therese. Aging is scary and so is death when I used to believe I can do everything on my own. Lola, thank you!

Thank you to everyone who took care of Lola until her last breath.

You looked at me probably wondering who I was. But I know you know and love each one of us by heart –  I love you Lola. We used to run around her house when we were younger. She would cooked suman, and everyone would run to get our share.

She once visited us with her grandchildren on a motorbike. Hip Lola!

We will miss your smile.

Goodbye, Lola!

Columban Fr. Kurt Zion Pala lives and works in Myanmar (formerly Burma).

About us

Columban logoThe Columbans are a society of missionaries, including priests and lay people, who minister to people of various cultures as a way of witnessing to the universal love of God.

We go in the name of the Church to announce, by deed and word, the Good News of Jesus Christ.

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