Hillary Ibarra rejoices in her mother’s restored health at her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration.
Miraculously, my husband, kids and I have visited my parents, who live far from us, twice this year.
But those two visits are not the greatest miracle I witnessed or experienced in these past several months.
When my family visited my parents and my brother’s family in March, my mother was deathly ill. To spend time with her I sat at her bedside. She remained in bed for most of the day. When she left her bed, she reclined in a chair. She had no energy to get dressed or walk around or join in board games. She'd been diagnosed with lupus two years previously, and the illness took a terrible toll on my mother, scarring her body. A doctor instructed her to prepare for end-of-life care.
Complicated lab tests last autumn identified multiple causes of concern: her lupus, other aggravating conditions, and another mysterious and dangerous autoimmune disease that doctors warned might take years to pinpoint for treatment.
Last Advent I fell into deep discouragement over my mother’s suffering and my father’s sadness. I felt like God was saying No to all our prayers. But I kept praying, remembering the widow from the Gospels and resting in the knowledge that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways, but He listens to and loves us with a Love that surpasses our understanding. I implored the Divine Healer to heal as he healed in the Gospels. My Mass intentions were for my mother. I prayed every day. And I asked for the intercession of Mother Mary, St Joseph, and my patron saint, St. Therese. I asked for petitions from the Catholic Mom family on my mother’s behalf, too.
My mother was sick of being pricked and prodded and examined and given doom’s-day predictions. She embraced hope in the prayers offered up all over the country on her behalf.
And her loved ones kept praying.
In August my family returned to visit my mother and father for their 50th wedding anniversary celebration. The party was my siblings’ and my gift to our parents. My sister Vinca supplied the elegant antique china for the meal and created a gorgeous wedding cake. My sister Annie arranged the lovely flowers she chose for my parents and decorated the tables beautifully. My brother cooked a delicious five-star menu for my parents and their guests. And my husband and I supplied the champagne and other liquor and helped with cleaning and decorating.
I cried when my mother arrived at the party venue. She looked beautiful.
My parents honored each other with poems they had composed for each other about their love, making their children and relatives weep, and my older siblings and l took turns toasting our parents, looking around at gathered friends and family who had all been inspired in their own way by our parents’ love and fortitude. My Uncle Jim, my mother’s oldest brother who had known and worked with my father before my father and mother met, gave the last tearful toast.
The party hall was gorgeous. Everyone dressed in their finest. But nothing could rival my mother’s beautiful, glowing appearance that night or the gratitude in my father’s eyes.
For God had already given the best gift to my mother and father for their 50th. Shortly before we all arrived to celebrate them, my parents received the results of my mother’s most recent blood test. Her lupus was definitely in remission, and the marker in her blood for the mystery autoimmune disease threatening her health had vanished. Her doctor, the one who had warned her to prepare for hospice care, pronounced that it was nothing short of miraculous and exhorted my mother to keep doing whatever she had been doing.
My mother credits the prayers of her loved ones.
To see my mother dancing with my father and her grandsons in her beautiful black and burgundy dress that night, to see her laughing and talking and going around the room greeting her guests with her gracious smile, standing on her feet for hours when previously she could barely venture from her bed, was a revelation of God’s mercy and goodness. And His faithfulness.
My siblings and I did our best to honor the union that gave us life with our gifts, actions, and words at my parents’ 50th celebration, but our Heavenly Father honored it best by restoring my mother’s health and relieving my father’s extreme anxiety over losing her.
Because of many fervent and persistent prayers, my parents toasted each other and danced at their 50th anniversary party. They embraced and laughed with their siblings, children, grandchildren, relatives, and friends. They celebrated each other and the great gifts of God, including their strong marriage that gave them four children, 16 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
It was a beautiful and miraculous night, a testament to a fruitful and lasting marriage and to the greatness of God’s goodness.
Copyright 2023 Hillary Ibarra
Images: copyright 2023 Hillary Ibarra, all rights reserved.