These days I find myself in the Mount Washington Valley, wandering around North Conway, New Hampshire. It is drastically different here than in Gwomòn, Haiti. The leaves on the trees are full of color and have begun covering the ground, the air is fresh and cool, the showers are hot, the refrigerator at my mom’s apartment is full of food from my childhood and the freezer has ice cream inside. Every day. There are many people in town, even many foreigners who come for the fall foliage, but there is something missing. I find for the most part that people don’t greet the stranger walking by. For that matter they often do not reply when I greet them. It is a bit awkward and disheartening. I wonder what to do with that.
I am grateful to have a Catholic Church a mile away so that I can walk to daily Mass which is offered several days a week. The pastor is a young priest who is a thoughtful homilist and a wonderful confessor. This is a huge blessing for me during this new season in my life. I know God is with me each and every step I take but I yearn for the grace of the Eucharist. Truthfully more that yearning for it, I need it.
You see, the Lord is again calling me to something different. I admit, this time I hesitated. I couldn’t quite believe it. I was finally beginning to do what I felt passionate about in Haiti. I was sure this is what He sent me to do. After my arrival in July 2016 I helped out another organization for nine months, in my eyes kind of paid my dues. Now it was my time to be fulfilled in my desire to help others. I was already working with eight different patients, navigating the complicated medical system of their behalf. That sounds like a plan God would have, right? It surely felt like one. Hmmmm, sounds like I was making that about me. Again.
Gradually I became aware of another need, another person who needed help. That person is my dear mom who lives here in North Conway in a small apartment at the age of 90 years and 10 months. I have three wonderful sisters who live nearby who dote on our mom every chance they have. I also have three other siblings around the country who visit frequently. I could sense that mom was becoming confused. I could hear it in her voice when I would call her from Haiti each week. Several times I would hang up the phone and cry. Thoughts of her sitting alone in her apartment, even for just a few hours, unsure of what to do next consumed my mind.
Not all of my siblings felt that our mom needed 24/7 care. And here I was making suggestions from hundreds of miles away. So I offered to come for a month long visit to assess what I felt was in our mom’s best interest. We have come to a consensus. The reality is that our mom now needs someone with her full time. She is often forgetful, unsteady on her feet, doesn’t cook anymore, forgets to heat up leftovers and needs help with her daily activities. More importantly, she needs a companion. Someone to remind her to take a few pills each day, someone to encourage her to get out of bed, to go outside on a glorious fall day, someone to prepare her meals. I am retired, five of my siblings work full time. I am single, my siblings are all married.
I am reminded of 1 Samuel 3:9 ~ So Eli told Samuel,”Go and lie down, and if someone calls you again, say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” Yes, I admit I hesitated, I didn’t want to believe it was time to leave Haiti, not this soon. But I quickly realized that I can’t care for others when my own mom needs care. Nor do I want to. This is an extraordinary time in my mom’s life, a time when my siblings and I get to give back to her the tender loving care she gave to each and every one of us.
I know one day I will return to Haiti to live. In the meantime, I will be content with one or two trips a year. I will stay connected with my dearest friend and pastor of our sister parish. I will stay connected with the RJM Community in Gwomòn. To any of you who have donated money for my work in Haiti, rest assured my work will continue. The connections I have are simple to maintain via social media. I will have plenty of time during my days while mom is getting her beauty sleep!
Yesterday instead of struggling with the ups and downs of this transition, I decided to focus on how very blessed I am to love two countries, to love the people in two different countries and to feel loved by them in return. There are so many people in our world today who are alone, feel disconnected, have no family or friends on whom they can rely. Yet I have all this ~ and my mom! Praise God from whom all blessings flow.