Sep 25, 2019 539 0 Margaret Ann Stimatz

Two Moms on a Mission

No matter the weighing age or magnitude of responsibilities, a mother’s love always has a way to undo every knot in life.

A Desolate Hour

I never understood Mary. She was far-away, a flat Christmas card-figure, having nothing to do with my world, or the miseries that I faced. And ditto for that group with the weird military-sounding name: “Legion of Mary.” To me, all things Mary were passé—including the rosary. “Why repeat those boring prayers? Only old ladies hung on to these things.” These thoughts kept streaming into my mind that night while at the hospital.

Stuffed with tubes, our mom, Peggy Jo, lay unconscious on a ventilator. As we were not permitted to be in her cubicle, we overflowed the ICU waiting room: milling and whispering, like the sheep without a shepherd. What precisely was her condition? Which doctor was in charge? Clueless, we were in a mess. The one we all loved was slipping away.

Finally, we got an update. The emergency surgery done on the previous day, had corrected the bowel obstruction, but it left mom at enormous risk for infection. Would her chemo-debilitated body, with its depleted white blood cell count, find the capacity to fight back? The next few hours would tell. Collectively, we ate without tasting, babbled without sense, stared off into space, and silently cried out wordless prayers. We floundered for a reason to hope.

Familiar Invocation

Around midnight a curious visitor appeared. It turned out to be a nun. I had not realized that there were any nuns left in this hospital, and who knows—why she materialized right then. Kindly, she offered to pray with us.

As many of my family were not much into the Catholic thing, I was surprised when a sizeable number of us trailed behind her to the chapel. She began reciting a rosary—of all things. Too weak to protest, we collapsed into those quiet, familiar rhythms: “Hail, Mary, full of grace …” Words seemed to soften into wings, soothing and lifting us. A hope began to flicker.

Mom hung on that night. By the next day she was making small and steady improvements. In the end, we were given the gift we sought: her remarkable come-back, and the joys of having her with us on this earth for another sixteen months.

Since that night, several “re-sets” have put my life on a better track. This may have a lot to do with mom, so, I want to say some more about her. Peggy Jo was a quiet soul. With Larry our Dad, she raised the eleven of us, but her remarkable works at home often passed unnoticed. She was a faithful life-long Catholic and a member of Saint John’s Legion of Mary, and who knows how her countless rosaries and other prayers have impacted each of us over the years? I definitely needed more than my share. Growing up I clashed repeatedly with mom. I was mean to her and kept her at a distance. But she never gave up on me.


As she was not very expressive, the “inside story” of mom’s faith remains untold. But I have an inkling that somehow, sometime—Peggy Jo connected with Mary. I mean really connected—“Mom-to-mom.” Why not?

Here was another quiet one who gave all she had faithful and devoted. Mary, who tended to skinned knees and scrubbed the soles of dirty little feet. Mary, who cared fiercely for her Son, and endured with Him to His bitter, bleeding passion on the Cross, in her, Peggy Jo, met a mom who understood without a word. They connected heart-to-heart.

And death will never extinguish their bond. Recently, as I was asking Mary to undo the knots in my life through my newfound devotion to “Mary, Undoer of Knots” (A novena to Mary, imploring her to undo those knots in lives which imprison us in sin, anxiety, and hopelessness), Peggy Jo popped into my head. Bingo!

Why had I never before caught such an obvious connection? Peggy Jo herself was a world-class “undoer of knots!” I should have known: I who bungled one sewing project after another. Wailing and whining, I would dump my latest mess into her lap. And with serenity, she would finagle her “seam-ripper,” untangling my project, and while she was at it, I kept at my crabby attitude.

Super Mom

This brings me back to that hospital chapel scene. There we were, a huddle of misery, crying out to heaven. And did heaven’s heart come forward to meet us? Did not Mary herself join in prayer for her beloved Peggy Jo, and comfort us in that bleak hour? Yes! And, multi-tasking mom that she is, I believe Mary was up to one additional task.

Remember how back then, I did not “get” Mary at all—did not even care to really understand her? Well, she cared. And she never gave up on me. With subtlety and grace, she went into action behind the scenes. I suspect that on that night long-ago, Mary was indeed hard at it. Yes, undoing knots—tackling in the depths of my clueless soul: one stubborn obstacle or another. Softening my hardness, drawing me close, which only a mother could do.

And now from eternity they are double-teaming it, Our Lady Undoer of Knots, and Peggy Jo. Two moms, on a mission! Untangling any snarls of impossibility thrown their way: dismantling those botches, mending hearts, and restoring, the puckered fabrics of life. Together they are creating for us, from a mess that is mammoth or trivial, opportunities for new beginnings.
Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, Pray for us!

Margaret Ann Stimatz

© was brought back to her Catholic faith in the flood of heavenly graces released at the death of Pope John Paul II. She has published articles in “Family Digest,” “The Word Among Us” and two Guidepost collections. Most recently, she co-authored “Mercy for Little Souls,” a booklet of inspirational reflections on the suffering and self gift of a young priest, Father Stuart Long. Stimatz is a licensed therapist working with children who are emotionally distressed, as well as their families.


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