My maternal grandmother, Betty Morris, worked as an administrative staff member for the Church of St. Mary. I do not remember much from her funeral except that the funeral was in the main church and it was completely full. It looked like Sunday Mass, but the church community was there to say goodbye to her. I also remember the priest holding up the opened ledger and talking about the entries for babies baptized - church members that received sacrament, all in her handwriting. Three of her five children attended the School of St. Mary, my mom and her two brothers. The other two did not attend only because the school had not yet been built when they were in school. When it was time for me to start first grade, I went to St. Mary. My brother is a year younger than I am, and he was a student in my mother's first Kindergarten class as a teacher at St. Mary. She has been there since. When I was going to school there, teachers that taught my mother were substitutes for my class. I have not been a student at St. Mary for over fifteen years, but when I go to visit, many of my teachers still work there. Those same teachers came to my wedding, most have met my daughter, and they keep up with my life through my mom.
How many places do you know where many of the staff members have not changed in fifteen, twenty, or more years? To me it says a lot about the community there, the support among coworkers, and the care given to the teachers by the school and church community. The amount of support my mother has received from the school and church community is amazing. My mom has been so well taken care of by her coworkers, parents of the school, and the church community. The types of support are extensive and have included things such as prayers, cards, visits at the hospital, forming a Race for the Cure team celebrating her, dressing in pink on the day of her surgery, meals being prepared for her, and several other tangible and non tangible means of support and love. I think about all of this as my mother prepares to return to work tomorrow. She is so excited to be back, as most people would if they were so blessed to work in the type of community she does. I know that she is also nervous. This will be the most physical work she has done since being diagnosed almost six months ago, and she has been really tired with radiation. She is worried about how the students will react to her. She does not have any hair and it may not be realistic that she can keep her head covered through the entire day. She is still recovering from her surgery and is very sensitive due to the radiation, she does not want the kids to be fearful of her, but at the same time, she knows she will have to set limits with them as she can not have the kids hug her too hard. But, the School of St. Mary is where we come from, it will feel like home for her to be back. She will be so well taken care of.
As I type this, I think that all the students there, with the exception of first grade and Kindergarten have been her students in the past. Most of the kids that have not yet been in her class have been with her during Sunday nursery or have siblings that have been her students. She is in some way connected to almost every student there. For those few that have not been her student yet - they will be soon - and she will love them. Who would have thought that the place my grandmother worked around fifty years ago would be the place my mother now works. Through the day tomorrow, I will think about how blessed my mother and our family have been to be part of St. Mary and I will know that since she is there, she will be well cared for on her first day back.