I wasn’t expecting to hear from my sister-in-law until some time next week. So I was surprised to learn that she was waiting for me to pick up one of our office lines.
Judy is in Wisconsin. She flew there on Wednesday, on the most difficult of journeys, after learning that her beloved mother, Evelyn (Lynn) Milas, had died last Saturday at the age of 85. Her husband (my brother Bob) and their children, 14-year-old Ben and 11-year-old Mandy, followed a day later.
When I picked up the phone, I was trying to anticipate the reason for Judy’s call. “Are you okay?” I blurted. She must have heard the concern in my voice, because she immediately laughed.
“We’re fine,” she said. And then she explained her dilemma.
One of the charities that Judy, her sister and two brothers have designated on their mother’s behalf is Phoenix-based Maggie’s Place, a nonprofit organization that creates homelike communities for young women who are pregnant, alone or homeless and in need of support. Following Catholic social teaching, the organization welcomes women who intend to keep and parent their children as well as those who decide to place their babies with adoptive families. Judy wrote a story about Maggie’s Place for our November 2009 magazine.
“Maggie’s Place: Building Communities of Hope,” became much more than a writing assignment to Judy. She was profoundly moved by the time she spent in the Maggie’s Place communities, listening to the women’s stories, absorbing the atmosphere of love and caring, seeing for herself the deep commitment and spiritual strength of the staff.
Judy was calling from an Office Max in Grafton, Wis. She was picking up the programs for her mother’s Memorial Mass on Saturday and decided to make some copies of her article so that friends and relatives of her mother who were unfamiliar with Maggie’s Place would know more about it.
But the staff at Office Max wouldn’t make copies of copyrighted material (as they certainly shouldn’t) without the written permission of the publisher. That would be me.
“I told them it’s a good thing my sister-in-law is the publisher!” Judy said jokingly, her voice sounding cheerful and strong. I could tell she was okay.
I quickly scribbled a note to Carrie Chronis at the Office Max, attached my business card (a requirement for authenticity) and faxed it off with a hand-drawn heart and smiley face for Judy.
When Judy first told me that she and her siblings had designated Maggie’s Place for donations on their mother’s behalf, it felt like exactly the right thing to do. Judy’s mother was loving, compassionate and devoutly Catholic. It seems only fitting that the grief of losing the best kind of mom should be channeled toward a positive new start for one who’s just getting started.