M. Regina Cram
A young woman dear to my heart gave birth to two sons. Unfortunately, she was in no position to care for them, and it didn’t help that the boys came screaming into the world with every strike against them. The mother had abused street drugs for two thirds of each pregnancy; as a consequence, one boy was born with all of his internal organs backwards.
There was no father in the picture. The babies were born addicted to the legal drug substitute, methadone. The mother was pretty sure that the babies were of mixed racial heritage but she wasn’t certain. She was also HIV positive. In the late 1980’s, that meant that each boy had a 40 percent chance of contracting the virus.
Given these facts, the likelihood that the boys would grow up in a stable, happy family was somewhere between negligible and nil.
But there is one more piece of information that you should know: these boys have a grandmother who prays.
And that’s what she did. She began praying many years earlier when her daughter first began to dabble in drugs. Her prayers continued for the duration of her daughter’s life.
And guess what? Both boys were adopted into stable, loving homes. Both are free of HIV. Both are now teenagers, and as an added bonus, both happen to be exceedingly handsome.
Not that I’m unbiased or anything; these boys are my nephews. And if there’s one lesson my family learned a long time ago, it is this: don’t mess with my mother, because she is a woman who prays.
Several years ago I flew to Texas to visit my sister and her family. While there, 9-year-old Matthew took me aside to lament his dilemma. "Auntie Reg," he moaned with his brilliant mind racing ahead, "I have a problem. Grammy wants one of her grandsons to become a priest, and we all know that when Grammy prays, God pays attention. I think I might like to be a priest but I also want to make monster movies. What should I do?"
I tried desperately to keep a straight face as Matthew poured out his heart. How does one answer a question like that?
Fortunately, Matthew solved his own problem. "I know, Auntie Reg!" he burst out a moment later. "I can say a couple of Masses really quick in the morning, then I can go make monster movies!"
He was quite satisfied with himself for finding the perfect solution, and I was not about to correct him. I mean, the kid was 9 years old. I just feel bad for some vocation director in Houston in about 2013.
The key, aside from the child’s obvious desire to serve God, is that even at a young age, Matthew knew that Grammy was not to be fussed with because she is a woman who prays.
If you don’t believe Matthew, you can believe me.
When my husband Peter and I got married, my Catholic mother incorrectly assumed that we would settle into the Catholic Church and live happily ever after. In reality, there was not a chance in the galaxy that we were going to become Catholic; it wasn’t even on the radar screen.
Instead, we settled into a vibrant Protestant church where we spent nearly 20 years.
My mother responded in the only reasonable way possible: she prayed. She prayed a lot, and after a while she began to fast as well. My mother fasted and prayed for us every Friday for 18 years.
If you notice the masthead on this newspaper, you may correctly deduce that I am Catholic. In fact, our entire family of six converted together after a long, difficult journey. We had no idea that my mother was praying but God did, and that’s what counts. So if you like my column, you can thank my mother.
My mother is still praying that one of her five grandsons becomes a priest. You might want to keep an eye on seminary enrollments for the next 10 years. After all, my mother is a woman who prays.
Regina Cram lives in Glastonbury and is a freelance writer.