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Photo: Courtesy of Jerome Kiley

Ruth Kiley holds her daughter, Lisa. Mrs. Kiley spent nearly 28 years caring for Lisa. Her example of selfless love provided son Jerome with an invaluable lesson in Divine Mercy.

'All I Treasured I Left on the Sand'

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By Jerome Kiley (Nov 1, 2010)
When my sister Lisa was born in 1966, her placenta separated early from my mother's uterus. As a consequence, Lisa suffered severe brain damage. It would seem to most of us that she wasn't conscious. It left her in an entirely helpless condition, and Lisa was dependent on others for her care.

For 21 years, my mother personally cared for Lisa, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For the last seven years of my sister's life, my mother had a visiting nurse help her, but even then, Mom did most of the work. She fed her, clothed her, bathed her, and took care of all of her needs. My mother also took Lisa everywhere.

She did everything humanly possible to improve the quality of Lisa's life. The rest she entrusted to Jesus, and it was my mother's strong devotion to The Divine Mercy that gave her the strength to minister to Lisa the way she did.

One of my most vivid memories is how my mother would get up at night, several times each week, to comfort my sister. She used to bring Lisa orange juice, which Lisa loved. My mother did this thousands of times, and hundreds of times she put a gastro-intestinal tube into Lisa's stomach because my sister had trouble swallowing. Despite the difficulty of doing this, my mother patiently fed Lisa every day. I counted them up and approximate that it came to around 30,000 meals,

In 1994, Lisa died. I gave a eulogy at her funeral. I mentioned that when my mother did this for Lisa, she was doing it for Jesus. My mother carried the image of Jesus with her wherever she was, and she carried Lisa through Him.

My Mom's actions with Lisa became a great object lesson for me, as I have tried to discern my own spiritual path in life. Time and again, I have reflected on the need for ministering to each other, in whatever way we can.

My mother used to sing a song to Jesus, a song that we had sung at her funeral. The song means so much to me. Here are a couple of lines from "Lord, When You Came to the Seashore":

Lord, when You came to the seashore,
You weren't seeking the wise or the wealthy,
But only asking that I might follow.
O Lord, in my eyes you were gazing.
Kindly smiling, my name You were saying.
All I treasured I left on the sand there.
Close to you, I will find other seas.


I have shared my mother's story with many people, including on the television show, "Walking with Jesus." That's something my mother did every day of her life — she shared her faith by being a living witness to it.

Jerome Kiley is active in lay ministry. He is one of the Marian Fathers' Friends of Mercy. He lives near Boston, Mass.


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maryS - Nov 1, 2010

Thank you for sharing it is a touching story of a mother and a daughter,I know that Lisa is now in heaven prayer for you and your mother.God bless.

Linda Gaitley - Nov 1, 2010

Talk about the communion of Saints! ...Surely this is an example of Right Faith, Certain Hope and Perfect Charity. God is the God of consolations. Even now, we are blessed by their lives. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy. Thank you for telling their story again.

Arlene - Nov 1, 2010

We celebrated mass in honor of All Saints Day yesterday. And the presider, in his homily, talked about the living saints of our day. After reading your story, I am very touched and believe wholeheartedly that your mom lived a truly saintly life. God bless her and may she rest in peace.

Padraic - Nov 4, 2010

I read recently that when we are merciful to others we receive Mercy at the same time, when we give alms we receive possibly much more than we give, giving to the poor should be a delightful oppurtunity to receive mercy! :-) It's always a 2 way equality street. Your mother was a great woman who received great Mercy through Lisa.

Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC - Nov 13, 2010

Thank you for sharing this beautiful testimony. It touched my heart.

Maria P. (Canada) - Nov 13, 2010

Thank you Jerome for such a touching story. May God bless your mother, father and family. The following is the diary entry which comes to mind #1358---"When there is genuine virtue, there must be sacrifice as well; one's whole life must be a sacrifice. It is only by means of sacrifice that souls can become useful. It is my self-sacrifice which, in my relationship with my neighbour, can give glory to God, but God's love must flow through this sacrifice, because everything is concentrated in this love and takes its value from it." A beautiful lesson for us all. Thanks again and God bless.

JUdy - Nov 19, 2010

I beleive here that both Mother and Daugther are saints. Oh that every mother should honor life with such dignity and love as this mother has done. Let us pray for all pregnant women that they will say "yes" to the child that is within them no matter what health/physical challenges the child may be born with.

Rose Santuci-Sofranko - Jan 7, 2011

Your mother saw what many don't...that your sister Lisa was one of God's most perfect people. She never could sin, or intentionally hurt anyone. I was blest to be able to serve many of these perfect people when I taught severely handicapped children for 9 years at Our Lady of Victory Infant Home in Lackawanna, NY. But then again, are they even the "handicapped" ones? No, I think it is the rest of us who are. God bless you and your mom and your sister!

Irma Verga - Feb 6, 2011

Thank you and God Blessed you for charing that story with us, it gives us hope and understanding and I'm sure that your mother and sister are happy in heaven with Jesus, and overjoyed to see what a beautiful person you are May God Blessed you always.

LISA KILEY - Jun 29, 2011

Jerome, I was reading about your sister in searching hymns at my nephews funeral mass tomorrow. He, too, had brain damage from cerbral palsy and my sister cared for him as your mom did. He was 27 years old and the absolute love of our lives. Tony had a great mind, though, knew all his family and we loved him and he loved us. Prayers go out to your mom and your family as you too still continue to suffer. Tony and Lisa are with our Lord and looking down upon us, until we all meet again.

LISA KILEY - Jun 29, 2011

Jerome, I was reading about your sister in searching hymns at my nephews funeral mass tomorrow. He, too, had brain damage from cerbral palsy and my sister cared for him as your mom did. He was 27 years old and the absolute love of our lives. Tony had a great mind, though, knew all his family and we loved him and he loved us. Prayers go out to your mom and your family as you too still continue to suffer. Tony and Lisa are with our Lord and looking down upon us, until we all meet again.

L.Philip Nongrum - Sep 23, 2011

What i learned from the story is:in some way or other.there is many Mother Therisa like,but they serve the needy silently.anybody can do the same as we belong to the humanity for God.

L.Philip Nongrum - Sep 23, 2011

What i learned from the story is:in some way or other.there is many Mother Therisa like,but they serve the needy silently.anybody can do the same as we belong to the humanity for God.

rick and ninni lemus - Jan 3, 2012

how wonderful to have shared this great story - it helps us count our own blessings as we say: "Oh GOD, You have given me evrything, and i still complaint!" but after reading this story of Mrs Kiley, one would think twice before complaining - thans again Jerome Kiley and may JESUS, The Divine Mercy, be always with you and your loved ones,
in CHRIST JESUS, MARY, JOSEPH