“We Italians have a saying,” said my cousin last month at Aunt Leah’s funeral. “An Italian mother is una benedizione.”
Una benedizione. A blessing. A benediction.
What does that mean? The dictionary gives me several ideas.
A benediction is an utterance of good wishes.
Her words, her wishes for her children, are good. Even those awash in worry or irritation, even those carry compassion. She means well.
“Have a good day at school.”
“You can do it.”
“Get down from there!”
“Wear your coat to stay warm.”
“Wear your sunscreen so you don’t burn.”
“Wear your seatbelt in case there’s an accident.”
“Mamma loves you. Always.”
A benediction is an invocation of divine blessing.
Silent prayers house the longings of her heart. They stretch over her child as he sleeps. They strain upward and plead with God.
“Lord, bless this child.”
“Lord, save this child.”
“Lord, protect him.”
“Lord, use his abilities as You see fit. As You made him.”
“Lord, help me be a good mom to him.”
A benediction is a service to bless the congregation; a ceremony to set things aside for sacred use, as a church, vestments, or bells.
She prepares imperfect sanctuaries for a noisy congregation and presides over a ceremony of the unseen. The sacred service of things taken for granted.
She wraps children in blankets, birthday presents in paper, boo-boos in bandaids. She feathers the nest with goodnight kisses and turns the pages of bedtime stories. She walks the night feeding a baby, comforting a sick child, or waiting for a teenager to make curfew.
She washes and folds mounds of laundry and lays out vestments for her charges. She cleans up rooms, dishes, and misunderstandings. She completes a task only to see five more erupt into chaos.
She answers endless questions. She faces the fire of a two-year-old and the swagger of a sixteen-year-old. She weeps with those shunned, disappointed, and bereft.
Her orchestra is populated by pots and pans. She directs the sweet, ringing bells of small feet and voices. She conducts personalities like instruments du jour: recorders, pianos, saxophones, violins, trumpets, booming drums. She oversees a heady score—the allegro and adagio of raising another human being.
A benediction is the state of being blessed. A mercy or benefit.
She bestows a state of blessing on her children that remains after she is gone. Though the official benediction may come at the end, it’s been conferred throughout the service.
Mi manchi, Mamma. Sie stata una benedizione per me.
I miss you, Mom. You were a blessing to me.
The Aaronic Benediction
The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make His face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn His face toward you
and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26 NIV
Dreaming with a Broken Heart by John Mayer who sings and pulls heartstrings.
How has your mom been una benedizione to you?