Extended Family – Extra Grandmas

We are a military family and are stationed far from any family. With the type of work my husband does in the Air Force, it will be difficult for us to ever be stationed by either set of our parents. This is a hard fact of our life. It is something that we chose, each in our own way. Ben was committed to the Air Force before we got married and I knew (as best as I was able at the time) what type of life I was committing myself to.

So far we have been stationed at two bases in the U.S. and are starting to mentally prepare for another move, probably in the next year. Where to, you might ask? Not a clue. But we’ll leave that for another post (think TRUST and PATIENCE – not exactly easy or particularly pleasant most of the time but so necessary for every life, military or not).

As I said, we don’t have any family close by us. Since we don’t have any blood family in reasonable distance, we have had to make a family, an extended family so to speak. A key part of our extended family are our relationships at church. There is one special relationship I’d like to share with you.

There is a woman at our church that loves our family. She is a lector (reader) at Mass and her husband plays guitar for the choir. They are an older couple and have been at the parish as long as we have and probably longer. When Ben is away on a trip or deployed, going to Mass can sometimes feel like I’m climbing a mountain that has no peak. The kids are everywhere, no one is listening, goldfish are being crushed with each step into the carpet and no one in at least a 10 foot circle around us is praying in peace, though they might be praying for some peace and quiet!

We were having one of those Sundays when Miss Judy sat down with us. It was during the homily and I was already exhausted. She joined us in the pew and took John in her lap. John is a super friendly kid and as soon as he saw that he was staying in the pew with us he had no issue hanging out with Judy. John has some great hair – it’s thick and curly and goes everywhere. Judy sat with him and played with his hair, listened to his stories, helped him keep relatively quiet, gave him his snack, everything. For that half hour she could have been his grandma.

Judy has helped me a number of times since this first instance. She knows all the kids and they love to see her. When we get to Mass they ask me, “Mommy, is Miss Judy reading today?” or “Mommy, where is Miss Judy sitting? Can we talk to her?” It is so sweet. She gets right down to their level and gives them all the love and attention that they want.

I feel so blessed that she is a part of our life. And Judy isn’t the only person like this in our lives. I have had a number of parishioners help me chase kids, do bathroom runs, walk to communion, and hold hands in the parking lot. Our family has been enveloped my our community in such a loving embrace. Each time someone holds open the door or helps one of my little ones put on their coat I feel God’s presence with us.

Sundays when Ben is gone are difficult. In some ways I dread the day, knowing what a challenge Mass will potentially be. But at the time time, every Sunday is an opportunity for me to humble myself and accept the help and support my community wants to offer me. This community is family. They have seen us at our worst and our best and still they come to check up on us, help us and love us.