Today would have been my maternal Grandmother’s 107th birthday. We affectionately called her “Maw Maw”, but we spelled it Mama. When I give talks on my personal walk of faith, Mama is always talked about. I attribute the reason why I am a committed Catholic to her personal witness of faith and fervent and constant prayers for me. Her faith has inspired me in many ways and I often think of her when making decisions about my own family and I am sure as time passes and I become a grandparent this will only intensify.
A Faith Filled Life
Mama was born in 1908 as Ruby Duhon and her family lived in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Their home was next door to St. John’s Cathedral (Sound familiar?) and today a Knights of Columbus Hall sits on the property where she grew up. She met her husband Allen Joseph Broussard at USL as she was pursing her MRS degree (her words not mine). She didn’t graduate, but she did get the Mrs. title. My grandfather took at job as Humble oil (now ExxonMobil) and they moved to Houston. They bought a modest home in Garden Oaks and were founding members of the parish of St. Rose of Lima. My grandparents tried and tried to have children, but as Mama was approaching her mid thirties, she began to give up hope, but then according to local legend, her doctor made an adjustment to her womb and she got pregnant with her only child, my mother, Stephanie.
My Grandmother did a lot of praying, my earliest memories of her were of us doing things at church. Her whole life was centered around her faith. She was a member of the Blue Army, whose members pray for the conversion of Russia, she prayed her rosary and attended mass daily, and kept her Pieta prayer book and many prayer cards and scapulars in her purse. But her faith was not just personal, she shared it with our family and with her faith community at St. Rose. Even though Mama had a car and could drive most of her life, she asked my mom to pick her up for Sunday mass, which ensured that we never missed. She was a smart woman.
She would often speak of my Grandfather, Allen Broussard, and tell me how much he loved the Church and how he was such a good husband who died too young albeit peacefully in his sleep. She always told me how much I reminded her of him. I am sure she prayed that I too would have the strong faith that he had. She would take me to daily mass and to the Thursday club to play dominoes during summer when I was out of school. As I got older and became a teenager, she would do whatever it took to keep me around her, even though I wished to be chasing other pursuits, by paying me to pull weeds in her flower beds. While I was working, she would give me advice and tell me how she was praying for me. As I moved away to attend college, I talked to her less, but she kept the relationship up by sending me care packages of snacks and sodas and she always made sure that I carried a scapular in my wallet and continued to remind me that she was praying for me.
I remember the day well when I got the call that she had passed away. I was on an overnight business trip in San Antonio and I was woken up around 2 or 3 AM with the news. I immediately packed up my stuff and started driving home crying the whole way. I still can’t really think about her or visit her grave without tearing up. I have often wondered why this is the case and I think I know. She gave me the greatest gift of my life, the gift of faith and there is no greater gift that I could receive. She didn’t give up on me through my tumultuous teenage or college years, she love me unconditionally and prayed that I would be the man that God knew I could be.
The Value of Grandparents
Grandparents, do not underestimate your value and your worth and your influence. Parents, do not underestimate the value of your parents in your children’s lives. There is something about grandparents, they link us to the past and provide a valuable source of formation for our children. They have run the race, and while none of us are perfect, in your children’s eyes, they see mainly perseverance and wisdom. Children, you will only have your grandparents for a short time, do not squander it, you will miss them greatly when they are gone, hopefully you will have built up some good memories to lessen the pain. The mission of the family is to guard, reveal and communicate love, grandparents do this extremely well and we can learn much from them.
I love you Mama and thank you for giving me the greatest gift a grandson could ask for. Happy Birthday, tell mom I said hi.