The Gift of Hope

By Jenny Dendinger

As we were telling a parish priest hello after Mass, I noticed an older lady standing off to the side. I thought she was waiting for a chance to speak to the priest, but she walked up to me instead.

Her mask was still on, but her eyes were smiling as she spoke. She started off by telling me that we had a beautiful family and how watching my children during Mass had filled her with joy.

She had nine kids, she explained, 10 counting the baby she miscarried. I asked if that baby had a name, and she told me Christopher. We talked about him being a saint and how she longs for the day that she will meet him in heaven.

As our conversation continued, we began to swap stories of big family life and counting kids.

Occasionally, I had to pause and fuss at my youngest for running out into the parking lot, but she wasn’t even phased by the interruption. She understood better than anyone.

Every time it seemed like our conversation was ending, she thought of one more story to tell. It was adorable. Not only were her stories delightful, but throughout our entire conversation, she kept repeating the phrase, “I’ve never regretted having a big family.”

She had so much love in her voice that it nearly brought me to tears.

We have definitely received our fair share of rude remarks about our “large” family, so I’m always thankful for the people that take the time to lift us up with words of encouragement. Their kindness and generosity in sharing their stories always fills me with hope.

What a beautiful gift as we begin this Advent season!

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