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'
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.