Wednesday, May 8, 2013

* Stabat mater dolorosa: A letter to my Mother, Mother's Day, 2013

Barbara Ward Keane 1911-1985

link to New Haven Register article 5/8/13

My mother, Barbara Ward Keane, around 1934 at age 23.
She was so poor.  during The Depression,  that she did not have a suitable dress for this photo and the photographer draped his black  camera throw around her shoulders as a substitute.

Dear Mother,

You have been dead now almost thirty years.

Over the last few days I have received hate mail which says I am tarnishing your grave and your memory, that I am hiding behind your skirts for my own purposes.

I might have lost my confidence after such  words were it not for our longtime family friend, Joe Jensen, who called me from Connecticut immediately that he heard about your grave to tell me that he was sure you'd be right there supporting me in what I'm doing.

And then there is Dean Adams, the retired Chaplain of Yale, who you knew when he was at the Divinity School, who emailed me "good for you"  after reading in the newspaper about my offer to the Tsarnaev family of the cemetery plot next to yours.

Both of these friends were your friends too: One for thirty years, one briefly.   There are so few left now, still alive, who knew you when . . .

There are those too who have been silent these last few days and some who have sought to distance themselves from you and from the controversy your grave suddenly symbolizes.

That would not surprise you,  I am sure.

Some say your tombstone will be vandalized and the cemetery will become a shrine to a terrorist.

I say----and I think you would too ---- that it could become a shrine not of hatred but of peace---peace between two great world families.

It could become a shrine where one mother, now dead,  accepts with untroubled heart, the lost and publicly despised son of another mother, a mother who is isolated thousands of miles away, broken hearted, and in anguish. 

Stabat mater dolorosa (the grieving mother stood weeping).

This is an image not for one select mother in one select religion, but for all mothers everywhere  in all religions.

Especially at this moment.

I will be thinking of you and all mothers in the days ahead.

Your loving son,


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