Catherine Hayes

img_2532From Ireland to Pennsylvania to Michigan. I am privileged to have known her, to be called her great-granddaughter.

Catherine Hayes was the kindest, most loving person I have ever met.

Her heart was in her eyes, as they smiled at me. The kind of smile that love spilled out of, all over everyone who knew her. It was the contagious kind. Infected our souls.

She carried a rosary, prayed often, and told me that Jesus loved me. I wasn’t sure what any of that meant, but I knew it was special. She was special.

If I could go back to revisit one day in my past, I would start the day in my mom’s car, on the way to Hazel Park. I would want to feel that childlike excitement, escalated anticipation, knowing that this visit would be just as great as the last time we shared with her.

I would cherish each step, opening the door, seeing her smile, being embraced in the most fragile yet enormously beautiful hug, the joy, the love that made my heart grow.

We would jump in the car, take her to McDonalds to get a hash brown (her favorite), then to the grocery store to buy orange drink and all the other treats she thought she needed to provide so we’d visit. How could she not realize that we visited just to be in her presence? To feel her love that seemed bigger than the world?

On our way back to her house, she’d speak of flowers. I’d pay attention this time. So I could fill my yard with all of her favorites. So we could still visit, among them, while we sipped our orange drink.

We’d say our goodbyes, our “can’t wait to see you next time!,” and wave until the car was too far down the street to see her anymore.

In these moments, Catherine Hayes taught me something powerful. She taught me unconditional love, compassion, and kindness. My mom taught me the same.

Happy Mother’s Day, Grandma Hayes.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

You are both cherished gifts.

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