Letters From a Young Catholic

My reflections as a Catholic young adult passionate about the Faith, seeking to grow in knowledge and understanding of God and discerning the will of the Lord in my life.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What is Important then Oma?

For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you might remember that I spent this past summer in my hometown helping care for my ailing grandparents. At the end of the summer, when I was preparing to leave to return to my studies, I visited my Oma to say goodbye. It was the end of August, and though at that time Oma was already very confused, she knew who I was and could understand what I was saying.

When I explained to her that I had to return to my studies she asked me "Why?" "Because I want to study like you did," I explained. My Oma was very well educated for her era; she had studied for a masters in French Literature in the years following WWII. "Because studying is very important," I answered. "You always told me that studying was important." "That's silly," she said. "Studying is silly?" I asked curiously, for she had always highly valued education. "Yes, you forget everything," she said. "Don't go back to university. Stay rather here with me." "If studying is silly, what is important then Oma?" I asked. Her reply was simple yet profound. "To know that you are loved."

My Oma spent years studying in university at a time when very few women pursued post-secondary education. Later, as a housewife and mother of four she would spend most of her leisure time reading history and literature. She knew European history better than anyone else I've ever met, could quote epic poems at length, and spoke five languages fluently. Yet, as she approached the end of her life, she was accutely aware that the vast knowledge she once had was slipping away. As Alzheimer's began taking over her life she realized that in the end it is not how many books you've read in your lifetime or the knowledge you have accumulated that is most important, for in perspective, these things are all fleeting, but rather, it is the recognition that you are loved that will have the most enduring impact on your life.

I pray that as she lay dying three weeks ago she knew that she is loved. I pray that she knew that she is loved by her family who surrounded her, but most of all that she knew that she is loved by the author of love Himself. When all is said and done, may we too know that we are loved, for after all, "dilexit prior," "He first loved us" (1 John 4:19).