Long after Grandma and Grandpa moved off the family farm, my dad and his siblings grew weary of high-tailing it to St. Michael, MN every time there was an emergency medical issue. My Aunts and Uncles convinced them to move into an apartment in our town, Anoka, MN, a half a block from the church. Theirs was the lower unit, closest to the old St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, built in 1888, the same year Grandpa was born. Grandma found comfort in looking out the window at the steeple. Six of the ten sibling families lived in Anoka, so we grand kids could ride our bikes over to Grandma’s place when ever we felt like it. The sub-ground floor picture window allowed us to look in and see if Grandma was in “the chair” or in the kitchen and gave a clear view of the cookies, usually found on the counter. If Grandma was in “the chair”, we patiently sat on the front stoop until she got up. We would watch for movement in her thumbing the beads, just to make sure she wasn’t sleeping.
“The chair” was a funny little parlor chair with no arm rests and an arched, round, spring loaded seat pad that required weight greater than a fourth grader to depress to a comfortable position. Most of us just slid off of it when we tried to make it work. It was perfect for a Grandma. Next to it was a funny little round table with a small drawer, covered with a lace doily. A swinging elf knick-knack and a lamp adorned the surface. Grandma kept Rosaries and school photos of all 47 of her grand kids in the drawer. There wasn’t much room for anything else.
When Grandma was in “the chair”, she was deep in a Rosary trance and we grand kids knew we should wait to knock on her door until she was finished. One day I asked her why she closed her eyes and prayed the Rosary every day, all by herself. I don’t ever recall seeing a bigger smile than the one she flashed at that very moment. She explained that we never pray the Rosary all by our selves. The Blessed Virgin always joins us and so do other Saints and Angels, when we invite them. Grandma shared a secret about her special church. When she closed her eyes, she imagined being in a big Cathedral where all her invited guests in Heaven came to pray with her and the Blessed Virgin. The altar was the most ornate of its kind, with the Holy Trinity and all the Apostles, alive and intertwined in its magnificence. The first few pews were filled with all the Angels and Saints that she asked to attend and the next few rows were filled with all her old friends and neighbors that had passed away. Cradled in her arms and seated on her lap was the infant that was still-born and buried on the farm 70 years earlier in her life. The next few rows were filled with Popes, Cardinals and various religious clergy who dedicated their lives to the Church. The balance of the congregation was her general invite to all souls in Heaven who were looking for something to do at that moment in time. It was a really big Cathedral, packed to the rafters.
Give it a try. You never pray it alone.