by Sister Ave Clark, O.P.
Recently, I received a phone call that two lovely friends I knew had passed away. I called them Madeline Sr. (the mother) and Madeline Jr. (the daughter). I met these two fine women of faith more than 25 years ago. They lived in a small house amidst the stores on Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village.
Madeline Jr. was mentally and physically challenged (not able to get out of the house or speak). Madeline Sr., a widow, had cared for her daughter all her life. She asked me if I could help her daughter receive Confirmation. After discussing this with the parish priests, I was told that I could teach Madeline Jr. classes to prepare her for the sacrament. A date was set for Confirmation, and my good friend Auxiliary Bishop Rene Valero said he would come to their home.
When I told the “Two” Madelines this Good News, they both clapped with their hands in prayer. Madeline Jr. could not talk in words. She communicated with small sounds and gestures. She had a beautiful holy heart, inspired by her mother’s patience, great care and everyday kindness for her daughter.
Confirmation day arrived, and more than 30 people crowded into the prayerful ceremony in a three-and-a-half room home of love. Everyone was quiet, prayerful and smiling as Bishop Valero confirmed Madeline Jr. and gave Madeline Sr. a blessing also.
A party followed (all home-made food by Madeline Sr.), with a special cake inscribed: “For Madeline Jr., my daughter who is Love.” Bishop Valero stayed for the party and so enjoyed himself. Madeline Jr. gave the bishop a piece of her special cake. As always, Bishop Valero smiled with his gentle compassionate manner.
Over the years, the “Two” Madelines kept the picture of Bishop Valero confirming Madeline Jr. on their kitchen table and always prayed for him. He also prayed for them
Madeline Sr. told me she always prayed her daughter would return home to God before her. Then she would know her work on Earth was done. Madeline Sr. would slowly lose her hearing and her eyesight at age 92, and Madeline Jr. would develop serious health issues at age 68.
The Lord called these “Two” Madelines home within two months of each other. The daughter first, followed by her mom. I can only imagine Heaven with the “Two” Madelines, extraordinary women of faith, humble, prayerful and accepting of life’s journey.
When I told Bishop Valero of the “Two” Madelines going to Heaven, he smiled and told me he never forgot that day on Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village and the special Confirmation ceremony. He said he thinks Heaven is three-and-a-half rooms of love. I smiled, as my good friend Bishop Valero remembered the days of goodness and kindness he had shared with them. We both agreed to pray to the “Two” Madelines. I am so blessed to have such faithful people in my life – an extra teaspoon of love for sure.[hr]
Sister Ave is coordinator of Heart-to-Heart Ministry.