May 13, 2018
It was a month of Sundays since A Greiving Mother’s Mother’s Day I had received a call from Hannah Augillard Benjamin, but the approach of Mother’s Day 2018 changed that abruptly. Dreary and painfully, she plunged into memories of her son “Rickie” Ricardo whose return to God took place on May 7, 2017, one week before Mother’s Day. Like Lightning, it is again days before Mother’s Day coming up on May 13, 2018. As any good mother, Hannah is still grieving that her older son has preceded her in returning to God.
The night before Rickie’s homegoing celebration, I received a mystery call: “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but my mother has been put into hospice and the doctor says that she may not have much time. She has been praying, ‘ Jesus, have mercy on me! Father, I can’t stand the pain! Help me, heavenly Father!’”
Unsure of the voice, I asked, “Who is this?”
“I’m Byron, father, the son of Dyan French Cole.” (Ward Matriarch Mama D)
Sighing heavily, I drew a long, deep breath. “Byron, I’m hurting a lot; so I can only imagine how much you are hurting. Where is the hospice located?”
“It is the Sanctuary at Passages Hospice, located at 617 Dublin Street, just off the intersection of South Carrollton Avenue and Saint Charles Avenue. I am at her bedside right now. Hold on. I’m going to put you on speaker with her. I am putting the phone to her ear. Mama, it’s Father LeDoux. Go on and talk, father.”
“Byron, let me preface this by revealing to you the only name I have called your mama for many years. In the mid-1960s, a mutual friend, Wilbert White, hung the nickname ‘Peanut’ on your mama. After she told me the delightful story, Peanut is all I ever called her. With this in mind, I will now pray with and for your mama.
“Peanut, I’m sorry to hear that you are suffering so much! I love you, Peanut, and I’m praying with you and for you. Heavenly Father, help your child, my friend Peanut. Jesus, show your little sister that you are her big Brother, so strong, yet so compassionate, merciful and forgiving. Jesus, show Peanut that you are the healer of her soul and her mind. Stay by her side, Jesus. Never leave her.”
“Mama’s eyes have opened,” Byron reported. “She is looking all around the room to find the source of your voice. She knows who you are.”
“Thank God,” I continued with emotion. “I love you, Peanut. I always will and I thank God for you. Jesus, your big, powerful, compassionate and merciful Brother is taking care of you now. He will not leave you alone in your pain to wonder how to reach your heavenly Father. You have helped so many confused, wayward children and others whom nobody wanted to help. Now it is your turn to be helped, and Jesus is here with you, taking personal care of you in your moment of need.”
At the homegoing Mass for 41-year-old Ricardo Wilson, Peanut as well as Rickie were heavy into my thoughts and prayers. One mother, Peanut, had gone home to God at 2:45 that morning, and another mother, Hannah, was heartbroken over her deceased son Rickie. Standing about six feet three inches and weighing 300 pounds, Rickie was a physical specimen who had played football in college. Our own sign of peace during the Mass was a handshake with a series of loud chest bumps that made nearby churchgoers blink. They probably figured that I would be killed.
Born in the Big Easy, Ricardo, “Ricky”, “DJ Big Easy” Wilson made his way through parish elementary schools, Saint Augustine High School, then Nicholls State University in Thibodeaux, Louisiana. Always very active, he was eager to learn, acquiring a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications and a Master’s in Education.
He used his skills in a regular job and served as DJ at many types of functions.
Hannah requested the totally unorthodox: that I do a column eulogizing her while she is still with us. “Other people get to read about a deceased person’s life,” she explained. “But I want to read my own in advance of my being taken away.” I obliged her, of course. However, I will not burden you with even a summary.
Peanut and Hannah typify the anguishing lots of many dear mothers locally and around the globe. They are God’s precious surrogates in our lives who kept us closer than close within themselves for 37 weeks, nourished us personally for a year or more, kept an eye on us almost nonstop throughout our toddling and well through our early childhood. Despite a failing mind in her early 90s, my mother often reminded me with a big smile, “You will always be my child!”
Whether we celebrate Mother’s Day with a white rose or a red rose, we love our Mothers dearly here and in heaven. All blessings and joy to you and yours!
“God is love, and all who abide in love abide in God and God in them.” (1 John 4:16)