Years ago, I watched the show every week with the faith of a child because I was a child.
Now I turn to it to remind me that the messages Monica and Tess delivered countless times didn’t change just because I grew up and life got more complicated.
Really, all it takes to make me feel better is hearing the theme song.
While the lyrics of “Walk With You” are certainly inspirational, Della Reese could probably lift my spirits almost as much with a rendition of “Row, row, row your boat.”
With her Irish lilt, Roma Downey as Monica always conveyed the love and peace of God, but His believability could be heard best through the words of Della Reese.
As Tess, Della was a no-nonsense angel who had been around the universe a time or two. She told you what you needed to hear, whether you wanted it or not.
This week, I was drawn to an episode featuring Della playing opposite Maya Angelou.
Angelou’s character is a famous poet (of course) who is grieving the death of her best friend. After the funeral, she receives a letter from beyond the grave asking her to care for her friend’s daughter, Natalie Cole.
Unbeknownst to everyone else, Cole’s husband died of AIDS, and Cole contracted the HIV virus from him.
Angelou, who has been like a second mother to Cole since the day of her birth, is committed to being by her side until her inevitable death as well.
Then she realizes that her son and Cole have rekindled their high school romance.
Everyone seems happy for the two except Angelou. She has just lost her dearest friend and has learned that her beloved goddaughter’s days will be cut short as well.
Angelou is determined to keep her son out of any situation that would similarly threaten his future.
“I want to save them,” she cries during her heart to heart with the angel Tess.
“Precious,” Della whispers in a tone both firm and gentle,” there’s nothing you can do but love them.”
The scene reminded me very much of my mother, who happens to be celebrating an important birthday today.
I had tried all week to decide what to say about my mother for today’s column. There are many facets to my mother, many of which I have only come to understand after becoming a mother myself.
Like Angelou, my mother has always wanted the best for her children. Unfortunately, one of them happens to be a strong-willed daughter with a listening problem.
My mother did a very good job of protecting me from destructive influences in the world. I never got mixed up with drugs, alcohol, boys or any of the other things that derailed the lives of other girls.
But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t made some boneheaded choices or regret some things I did during that sticky in-between period of wanting to be an adult and actually becoming one.
I know there have been moments when my mother wanted desperately to save me from myself. I also know there will come a day when I will want to do the same with Wyatt.
Sooner than I would like to think, I will be the parent trying with every fiber of my being to assure the littlest love of my life that I know more than he does, and he won’t want to hear it.
He will go his own way, just as I did before him, my mother did before me and so on and so forth back to Adam and Eve.
When my heart is breaking within my chest, I will ask myself, “What did Mama do?”
The answer, as Tess suggested, will be that she did the only thing she could do — she loved me.
Other mothers pass on their knowledge of cooking or fashion to their daughters. I’m sure my mother wanted to too, but I wasn’t interested in any of that.
I’ve come to realize that the greatest lesson my mother taught me is how to love.
Which is not to say that I live up to it, but at least I have a good place to start.
I recently came across a quote that seems to be an appropriate way to end this birthday column for the awesome woman I call Mama: “So Christ will say to the women who worry and wonder and weep over their responsibility as mothers, ‘Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole.’ And it will make your children whole as well.”