|St. Christopher medal from my mother when I turned 16|
As one of the most recognized symbols of sainthood, St. Christopher medals are worn by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Most of us know St. Christopher is the Patron of Travelers, safe journeys and of transportation workers. The story goes that he was a big strong guy looking for a way to be of meaningful service after he converted to Christianity. Having a strong back and a wooden staff, he decided to serve God by carrying people across a treacherous river where many had perished in the past. Sort of a personalized ferry service. It is thought that much of the story is simply a legend and not based of historical facts which is why his sainthood has been in question. I'm not really bothered by that because I love the message regardless of the factual details.
|St. Christopher Shadow Box from Chris Hart Studio|
As I cared for my aging mother, I worried for her safe journey into the next world just as she worried about me as a teenager when she gave me that St. Christopher medal. When you care for someone who can't care for themselves, you become an extension of that person, living two lives in one. The weight of her world rested firmly on my shoulders. Not a moment went by that I didn't feel the burden of carrying someone who was unable to carry themselves, protecting her every step of the way. I was honored to do it but I felt more and more overwhelmed as the months turned into years. I felt the heaviness of the burden grow. I felt the river rise and the current become a torrent until I thought my back and mind would break. It felt that if I made one misstep, I would drown and so would my mother.
Caring for my elderly mother was like traveling in the dark, on an unfamiliar dirt road, in a car I'd never driven before, with an empty gas tank, no cell phone signal, the bridge out, having forgotten my glasses and not really knowing if I would recognize my destination when I got there anyway. Even a saint would have a hard time finding their way. I was brought to my knees daily. I was unsure of the journey and unsure of the destination. That was when I took that St. Christopher medal out of my jewelry box and held it tightly in my fist and prayed that he still enough strength left to help me.