The Nicklebys: A Story for Catholic Children
by: Sue Felton

CHAPTER SIX: Mother's Day

It is Mother's Day. The Nickleby family have just arrived back from Mass. Mum is feeling very special. At the end of Mass, Father Brown gave all the mothers a Mother's Day blessing. And then each mother received a Miraculous Medal tied carefully to a beautiful white flower with a piece of ribbon. Dad says the flower is a chrysanthemum. Chrysanthemums are special Mother's Day flowers.

Lizzie carried the flower all the way home, taking care not to crush it. Now she is looking for a little glass. She arranges the flower in the glass and then places it on the family altar in the lounge where Mum can see and enjoy it. She decides to put the Mother's Day flower next to the statue of Mary because she is a mother too.

Now it is morning tea time. Kate has made Mum a chocolate cake. It has so much icing that it is running off the cake and onto the plate. All the hundreds and thousands are sliding off too but everyone knows the cake will taste scrumptious. Edward is making Mum and Dad a cup of tea and Celeste is pouring milk into tall glasses. It is time to eat and time to give Mum her presents.

There are lots of odd shaped bundles all wrapped in home-made wrapping paper. The wrapping paper is secured with lots and lots of sticky tape and it takes Mum quite a long time to remove it to discover the surprises underneath. There is a picture of Mum drawn by Lizzie; a picture frame made out of cardboard and decorated with shells, collected on a trip to the beach; a bar of Mum's favourite soap; a small heart-shaped cushion knitted by Kate, with the word 'Mum' embroidered on it; a wooden box painted by Edward and a huge box of chocolates that everyone will share.

"Now we must tidy up," says Mum. "And wash our faces," she adds noticing the smears of chocolate on Annie and Lizzie's faces. "Auntie Caroline and Uncle Rick are coming to lunch." Auntie Caroline and Uncle Rick are Lizzie's Godparents. Lizzie smiles because she is going to see her Godmother on Mother's Day. A few days ago, she made Auntie Caroline a beautiful Happy Mother's Day card. It has lots of red hearts on the front and a generous sprinkling of glitter. She hopes Auntie Caroline will like it.

Auntie Caroline does like her Mother's Day card. Lizzie gives it to her as soon as she arrives with Uncle Rick. She takes Lizzie on her knee and gives her a big hug and asks her if she'd like to hear the story of the day she became Lizzie's Godmother.

Lizzie has heard the story many times before and so has everyone else. But that doesn't matter. They love hearing about things that have really happened to them. They all settle down to listen to Auntie Caroline.

"When Dad asked us to be your Godparents we were so excited. To be a Godparent is a very special honour. We knew we would love you very much," Auntie Caroline begins. "The first time we saw you, you were only a few days old. Dad put you into my arms and I held you very carefully. You were so tiny, just like a doll. You had a little button nose and a wisp of fair hair and rosebud lips. I fell in love with you at once.

"Mum and Dad let me hold you while you were being baptised. I felt so special. There were lots of people at the church. They had all come for your baptism and for the celebration after it, but it was me who got to hold you and become your Godmother.

"You slept all through the ceremony, Lizzie. Even when the priest poured the water over your forehead and said, ‘I baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit', you didn't stir."

"How could Lizzie have slept through such an important moment?" ponders Edward. "The Holy Spirit came down from Heaven and she didn't even know about it!"

Lizzie is thinking about the Holy Spirit. "You didn't see a dove fly down to me, did you?" she asks.

"No," smiles Uncle Rick. "But maybe God did. Imagine: one moment your soul was all dark and the next moment it was shining so bright and beautiful. It must have looked a bit like sunshine shining through a crystal glass."

Now it is time for Lizzie's favourite part of the story. "Tell me about the bond," she begs. "Tell me about the invisible string."

Auntie Caroline laughs. "All Godparents are joined to their Godchildren by a special bond. It's not really like invisible string."

Joe interrupts. "If it was like string," he says, "you'd keep getting tangled up and you'd never be able to go anywhere without each other."

Lizzie giggles thinking of all the knots that would soon appear if there were a bit of string joining her to Auntie Caroline and Uncle Rick.

Auntie Caroline continues. "It's a bond that only God can see. It's the sort of bond that can never get tangled up and can never get broken. We are joined together forever in a very special way."

Lizzie likes this thought. She is glad she has Godparents. She is glad she has two mothers to look after and love her.

"After the baptism we had a big party," says Auntie Caroline. "You'd just become a child of God and we wanted to celebrate. Uncle Rick made an enormous cake. It was a mud cake with lots of sticky icing on it. On top of the icing was your name. Elizabeth Antoinette is a very long name. It took Uncle Rick a long, long time to cut out the letters for your name from white fondant icing. He wanted to know if he could just put ‘Liz-An' for short but I said we had to have your whole name. It is such a beautiful name."

All the children start thinking about their Godmothers. They get out the photo album to look at photographs of all their baptisms. They soon discover that they all wore the same gown on the day of their baptism.

"Granny made that gown when Edward was born," says Mum. "And you have all worn it."

It is now evening. Auntie Caroline and Uncle Rick have gone home. Mum says it was a wonderful day. She says she has had a very happy Mother's Day.

Lizzie is still thinking about mothers and Godmothers. She strokes the white Mother's Day flower and then says, "I haven't just got two mothers. I've got three." She looks at the statue of Mary and she feels very happy.

Later, when all the children have gone to bed, Mum thinks again about the invisible string. She thinks about her own Godmother. It is a long time since she saw her Godmother, Auntie Maria. Perhaps she should ring Auntie Maria and wish her a Happy Mother's Day. She smiles as she picks up the phone. She is glad she has three mothers too.

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