Monday, May 2, 2022
Dolores Hanley McDiarmid
I was seven years old and preparing for my first Communion when I first learned that the month of May is Mary’s month; the month when we are encouraged to pray the rosary and meditate on the life of Jesus.
Throughout my mother’s life, she had a strong devotion to our Blessed Mother. I remember seeing a pair of silver rosary beads in different places in the house, an indication that she most likely prayed the rosary when I was in school.
All of us who have a devotion to our heavenly Mother have a story about the beginning of our own special relationship with Mary. For my brother, George, and me, our relationship with her became more personal when we were young adults and our mother became seriously ill.
In the fall of 1994, my brother and I began a journey that would teach us about the power of praying the rosary, how Mary intercedes for us by bringing our prayers to her son, Jesus, and how God continues to work miracles in our lives. We know because our mother received many. Both my brother and I believe that recipients of a miracle or of God’s healing have a responsibility to share that for God’s glory, which is the reason for this long overdue article.
In October 1994 our mother, Helen, 79 at the time, went into the hospital and was in ICU for three months. She asked us to pray the rosary every day for her. She was on a ventilator and unable to speak. All her internal organs were shutting down. We were told we should not expect her to go home. We were living the sorrowful mysteries. We felt like we were in the Garden of Gethsemane asking our Heavenly Father to let this pain pass from us.
At the same time, our mother insisted that she would be returning home and have a big party. She continued to communicate with us by writing on a pad of paper and we continued praying the rosary.
God did provide one consolation to us during this time of suffering. On Jan. 13, 1995, as Helen continued fighting for her life in ICU in Broward General, I was at an unofficial Marian apparition site asking our Blessed Mother to please come to my mother, bring her comfort and healing at this time when she was suffering greatly.
When I arrived at the ICU to see my mother, she told me that the Blessed Mother had appeared to her that morning. She saw Mary looking down on her in bright white. My mother said to Mary, “Mary, this is your day. Please do not fail me.” On her pad she wrote, “She looked down on me and gave me a real good smile.” Mary had answered my prayer before I even asked.
We expected my mother’s health to improve, but it became even more serious. My mother told us to keep praying. To the surprise of the doctors and nurses, her health eventually did improve, and they had no explanation for how that happened. During this time, we were living the joyful mysteries, comparing the birth of our Lord to the improvement of health for our mother.
Helen was sent to another hospital to wean her off the ventilator, but what my brother and I did not know at the time was that most people do not leave that hospital alive.
Every day I would sit at the foot of my mother’s bed praying the rosary. It was an unforgettable journey filled with opportunities for my mother, my brother and me to evangelize. It was a time of horrendous suffering for the three of us. A better description would be it was a living hell. For more than three months we lived the sorrowful mysteries once again, and compared it to our Lord’s crucifixion. By the grace of God, we were able to see him working in our lives.
Finally, in May 1995, our mother was released from the hospital, returned home, and had a big party just as she had told us she would. After six months, we were living the glorious mysteries and celebrated our mother’s return to good health and a new life.
All three of us could not help but be changed after living through such trials and suffering. For us, our faith grew as did our love for Jesus and his mother, Mary. They traveled the entire journey with us.
Helen lived five more years, going home to our Lord on the feast of Corpus Christi. On the day of her funeral at Nativity Church in Hollywood, we appropriately placed a rose in the hand of the statue of Mary of the Smile to say thank you for five more wonderful years with our mother.
It has been 26 years now, and my brother and I continue praying the rosary each day with confidence that our Blessed Mother hears us, and our prayers will be answered according to God’s will.
My brother and I invite you to turn to our Blessed Mother, pray the rosary and ask Mary and our Lord to help you in your time of trial. Remember: God’s miracles continue but we need to ask and have faith.