Day 73: A special bondPosted: August 1, 2012
My mother, Rita Ann Schneider (nee Haney) passed away when I was 11 months old. My father remarried when I was 5, and I knew very little of my natural mother’s life until my parents moved from their Euclid home several years ago, when they brought me many artifacts which told her story.
She had polio when she was around 10 years old, and lived at Rose-Mary Center. It was a time of quarantine, and her communication was penciled on postcards that had to be sterilized before being sent. She wrote to her mother, who I believe died while my mother was at Rose-Mary, then to my Aunt Helen (Sr. Madonna, OSU). These postcards told of the loving care she received, physical healing, frustration with transferring back and forth for medical reasons between City Hospital, Rainbow Hospital and Rose-Mary Home, and the loneliness of being separated from her family. These cards made a huge impression on me, giving a voice to so many of those who live here now that are unable to express themselves.
When I first came to Rose-Mary in 1989 to volunteer, my father told me my mother had been here. I didn’t end up volunteering because of my pregnancy, but later applied and got my job as a Training Coordinator. Shortly after I started, I got the privilege of working on the 85th Anniversary Celebration. Going through the old photos, I could see that whoever put together my mother’s albums also put together Rose-Mary Center’s albums – the same white pencil, the same handwriting, and many duplicate photos.
Although my mother was here for a short time, those who cared for her remained a part of her life, right up to the time of her death. The albums go on to show that as a school girl at Villa Maria, and later as a young woman, she visited Rose-Mary often. The boxes also contained inspirational cards, letters, and gifts from the Sisters of the Humility of Mary and clergy of Rose-Mary. These mementos include an inspirational book, “The Catholic Girl’s Guide, 1905” with the inscription “A Merry Christmas to You Rita, from F. Lloyd Begin” (Auxiliary Bishop of Cleveland 1947-1962), and a letter containing a medal blessed by the pope for me when I was born given to our family even after her death. The final page of her high school scrap book is the death notice of Sr. Geraldine, who was the first Mother Superior or Rose-Mary Center.
Working on the 85th Anniversary, I came across a letter from Sr. Geraldine during her Rose-Mary Home tenure. It stated that “in order to succeed, we needed to make sure new employees are skilled and trained.” She also wrote “we must treat their body, mind and spirits.” It is a little fate and a little faith, that in my present job I’m able to be a part of the hiring and training process, and that Rose-Mary Center has embraced “Body, Mind and Spirit” in both our volunteer program and the Annual Appeal. I hope in some small way that I, and all the Center employees, are carrying on the spirit so we continue to impact the lives of the residents, just as my mother’s was so many years ago.
-Story from Rita G., Rose-Mary Center employee