A reflection by Mary Lou Edgar for May 21, 2023.
Mother’s Day is a day when I am incredibly grateful but also aware of all the mothers who have suffered extreme losses.
The day after Mother’s Day, I woke up to realize that a dear friend, the former President of Neumann University, a person for whom I am most grateful, had died.
Rosalie Miranda was my first professor when I returned to academia at the age of thirty-five. At that time, Neumann was a school known for working with women who had dropped out of college (most of us to get married) and didn’t return. Rosalie made it her mission to assure us that we could make a difference in the world because we had a great deal of experience and were more knowledgeable than we ever thought possible. What a gift she was to so many!
I am so grateful for everything I learned from this wonderful woman.
Not only academically, but also watching her live her life devoted to her family and devoted to the mission of Neumann College. She knew her students well. She never focused on the past, rather she was persistent in making us look at how we were moving forward. She taught me how to truly value people. When the college was smaller, she knew all our names. She would always greet me with a smile. When I graduated, she was there to give me my diploma and say, “I knew you would do it.” She knew I was going to graduate school and she was happy for me, and all the lives she believed I would touch. She never took credit for herself.
For so long I thought of her a great deal. But as time passed, I began working, and she retired. We emailed before the pandemic saying we would get together because she wanted to see the agency I started. That never happened. So here I am thinking about how much I valued her, and if that was so, why didn’t I do more to spend time with her.
We just never know.
We just never know how much time we have. We think fleetingly about people who give us so much. We remember the joy; we plan to do something.
It is also this way for us with God. When we are struggling, we are quick to ask for help and support. But do we always share our gratitude when things change? Do we come back to say, “thank you.” Or do we let time pass without acknowledging what has happened. We just never know how much time we have to express our gratitude.
A friend sent me a beautiful quote by Suzanne Farnham, Founder of the Listening Ministries in Baltimore:
“Gratitude is thankfulness that we feel deep within. It is reverential. It is a wordless prayer.”
Rosalie’s life was a gift, and I was able to ponder not only what she did for me but for so many. It felt very reverential. As I consider the apostles during this time after Easter, I think of how it must have been for them, watching Jesus lovingly prepare to leave them and return to His Father. He left them with much to do; he had taught them well, but they were frightened and confused. It is no different for us. We are often called to do things that are frightening, but with God’s grace and love together with the power of the Spirit, we tentatively move forward.
I believe that Rosalie lived just that way. She knew love and she continuously shared it. I live in gratitude for what she gave me, knowing that it truly came from a holy place. I believe she knew she impacted others but that is not what she was about. She was about doing what God asked her to do. She knew how to pay it forward. I am grateful to God for Rosalie’s influence in my life and I’m going to try to emulate the way she helped others. That was her gift to me, and I think that is what she – and God – would want from each of us.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Lou Edgar, MSS, is a clinical social worker who founded A Better Chance for Our Children, an adoption and foster care agency that works to find permanent homes for children in the foster care system. Mary Lou was the Executive Director of ABCFOC, but she is now retired. She graduated from Neumann University and Bryn Mawr School of Social Work and Social Research. She and her husband joined SsAM in 2021.