Mary Jane Hurley Messerly (1919 – 2005)
The tenth anniversary of my mom’s death has just passed. Eventually, like every one of us, she will be forgotten. But in another sense those who came before us aren’t gone; they pulsate through our being in ways unknown.
I have written about both her and my dad before, and it is difficult to add to those sentiments. But there is something about remembering, that which motivates the ancestor worship of the Far East, which is valuable. Worship is too strong, but we should remember that, as Santayana put it, “We must welcome the future, remembering that soon it will be the past; and we must respect the past, remembering that it was once all that was humanly possible.” I am a futurist; I find the only hope for our species and their descendants in the future. But the future will be built upon the past as surely as it is built upon the present.
As for my mom there what I can say is that she loved me and my siblings unconditionally, showed us with her affection, and lived for her family. There are many stories to tell about her, but her is a simple one from my childhood that I remember vividly. Our near unbeatable St. Ann’s grade school soccer team had just suffered a devastating loss in the semi-finals of 6th grade division of the CYC. We lost because of bad luck—multiple shots of ours hit crossbars and goal posts—and an incredibly bad play by me as goalkeeper—on the only time the opponents got near our goal. Even a couple of my neighborhood friends came with me and mom to watch our expected victory. I was devastated. I had cost the team the game singlehandedly. What did my mother do? She bought me and my friends ice cream on the way home. And not just any ice cream. That rare treat of 1960s St. Louis—Velvet Freeze!
And what better way to comfort an 11-year-old than ice cream. What she was really comforting me with was love.