The statue was sitting on a shelf in the St Vincent de Paul shop. It looked so sad with its reduced price tag. Its head had been broken off and then inexpertly fixed, the glue thick and visible. But the statue was still beautiful. It was a statue of Our Lady. I looked at the perfect statues in the display case and then up at the damaged statue. I knew I had to rescue it and take it home. I didn’t need a perfect statue but I did need Our Lady.
For years, this statue has sat on our family altar to the left of a crucifix. To the right is a statue of the Sacred Heart. Once upon a time, the two statues were a matching pair. But that was before the accident of The Lost Head. A new Sacred Heart statue has taken the place of the one inadvertently dropped on the floor.
Mary has a couple of Miraculous Medals around her neck. Each year on Mother’s Day, our parish priest organises a small gift for all the mothers. As we come out of Mass, an altar boy hands a chrysanthemum tied to a Miraculous Medal to every mother. I bring my gift home. Gemma-Rose hunts out a small glass to hold the flower and then places it on the family altar next to Mary. The medal is hung around the statue’s neck. (I have my own Miraculous Medal.)
Whenever our children want something they always choose Gemma-Rose as their representative. “Go on Gemma-Rose. You ask Mum!” The innocence of the young has a certain appeal and who can say no to a little girl? I think about Mary and how perfect and beautiful she is. How could Jesus refuse the entreaties of His own spotless mother? And so whenever I want something I am sure to send Mary in my place.
I think about Mary’s sorrow when her son Jesus was crucified. And I find great comfort in her tears. When I lost my own son and my heart ached and I was bowled over by the pain, I often felt guilty: If I had true Faith wouldn’t I rejoice that my son was now in the arms of God? If I truly accepted God’s will, wouldn’t I be happy? And I look at Mary bowed down by grief at the foot of the cross. She did God’s will and she trusted Jesus. She knew He had to die for our sins, that He was Our Saviour, that He would rise again. But still she cried. She cried with a mother’s heart which aches when a child suffers, when a child dies, when a child is no longer here.
Sophie puts her arms about me and hugs me tightly. “I love you Mum! I love you so much.” She thinks for a moment and then adds, “But you are only my second best mother.”
“Yes, I love Mary best and then you and then my Godmother.” I don’t mind coming in second place. How can I compete with Our Lady?
Sophie does some more thinking. “I’m really lucky I have three mothers to look after me, aren’t I?”
And I have to agree.