The Unanswered Call

The sound of a telephone echoed and re-echoed insistently, but no one answered.
by Reuben Nuxoll, LC | Source:
Never was heart in such devotion bound, and with complacency so absolute disposed to render up itself to God. (Dante, The Divine Comedy, Heaven, X, 51-53)

It was the morning of January 5, 2007, a First Friday, the day before Philomena’s wedding anniversary, and somewhere in an empty house, the sound of a telephone echoed and re-echoed insistently, but no one answered.

On the other end of the line, Sherry was perplexed that her mother was not answering. “That’s strange, but maybe she’s dressing,” she thought.

Sherry was Philomena Hoene’s oldest daughter, and lived less than a five-minute stroll down the hill from her mom’s house. As her dad had died of cancer years before, Sherry took care of her mom’s needs. Phil suffered from Parkinson’s, and it always took a while to get ready for daily Mass, sometimes up to half an hour doing one button of her blouse. Even if she was late, though, she was there. She always wanted to please her Lord each day by showing up at church.

Sherry left a message that she would come by at about four o’clock, and hung up. She smiled as she remembered their conversation the night before, when she had joked with her mom about her condition, and Phil, normally quite stubborn, had finally admitted, “I think I might have to start using a wheelchair.”

As Sherry pulled into her mom’s driveway that afternoon, she noticed nothing unusual. But when she knocked on the door, no one answered. Her unanswered call had become an unanswered door. She went in, and there was not a sound. She called out for her mom. Nothing. What was going on?

She looked around her mom’s house, and everything inside was in place.

She headed to the bedroom, her heart throbbing nervously.

As she opened the door, she let out a sigh of relief. Her mom was kneeling at her bed with her head resting on it peacefully, fallen asleep in prayer. Sherry stepped up to the bed and …something wasn’t right. Her mom didn’t move at all.

Phil was not kneeling down, she was no longer resting her head in prayer – she was already in eternal life.

Sherry’s fears had been true, but she had not believed them. How could her mom leave her without telling her? She had always hoped to comfort her mom in her last moments. She couldn’t understand, “What could I have done? How was I supposed to know? Why didn’t God tell me? What if Mom was scared when she died?”

In prayer she felt God tell her, “Sherry, you would have been a comfort, but what better company is there than me and my mother?”

Phil died on a First Friday, a day dedicated to Christ’s love and his mercy, culminating on the Cross. He has risen from the dead, conquered death, thus rewarding Philomena’s trust with mercy, and opening the gates of heaven to all of us. Our faith is in the resurrection.

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