Up Front and Personal

The Rosary Is Her Guiding Light

By Amy Bodden Bowllan

My earliest remembrance of the miracle of the rosary was when I was 5 years old and my great grandmother (on my father’s side), Amy Delapenha held them with reverence as she watched on television: boxing matches, followed by the ritual of “The Price is Right” with Bob Barker, then lunch with “Guiding Light” and “As The World Turns.”

Rosary beads were always mystery to me. I was mesmerized by these jewels that held my grandmother’s interest throughout the day, as well as held her deepest prayers, like an ear holds a secret. My great grandmother and her sister Estelle immigrated to the States through Ellis Island from Kingston, Jamaica, in the early 1900s. Grandma said the rosary all day, every day. Her lips would move as though she had something she wanted to say – but she wasn’t speaking to me or to my sister; we just giggled because my grandma and aunty were praying while watching TV!

My mother Camille also treasured her rosary beads which were different from grandma’s. Mom’s glistened like crystal snowflakes before the blizzard. The clarity of each decade was like the finest diamond. I loved to sit and gaze at the unique sparkle when I held them up to the sun. They were beautiful, but sharp in some ways, as they lived under mom’s pillow. I knew how sharp they were because when I would sneak into her bed when she was at work, to feel the warmth of my mom, I nearly cut myself on the crucifix from scrambling around to get comfortable.

Fast forward to May 30, 2011, as I lay on a hospital gurney, wrapped in warm towels, the fluorescent lights and constant hustle and bustle of able-bodied staffers made it difficult to make out what was the rush. White masks, green surgical garbs, robes, sneakers, banter and lots of machines were assembled. Everything was being prepped at lightning speed – with care and precision. As far as time, under these circumstances each second that passes is as important as each precious decade of the rosary bead.

With their green gowns and plastic gloved hands, the lead nurse in almost an operatic voice calls out my last name “Bowllan!” and unknown numbers to follow. I replied, “Present!” A little chuckle lightened the heavy atmosphere of worry. Meanwhile, my eyes were catching every movement in the operating room, like an eagle eyeing her nest from the tiniest critter. I was the “only one” on that gurney but I was not alone.

I was swiftly wheeled through steely-grey operating room doors that resembled my grandmother’s refrigerator. The difference, grandma’s Frigidaire was filled with aromatic West Indian food, while these steel doors with two circular waxlike windows were opening my eyes to the mystery of the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows. The anesthesiologist looked down at me and said, “Ok. Are you ready?” I responded, “I need my rosary beads,” and at that moment, the Blessed Mother covered me with her warmth like no heat I have felt since. At 43, a wife and mother of two and a teacher, I felt safe because the Blessed Mother was with me while I recited the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows.

Amy Bodden Bowllan is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs parish, Forest Hills.