Several years ago, I took my newborn to Mass at Our Lady of Victory Church.
It was one of the first times I had been out of the house with him. I had all the typical symptoms of new motherhood: an overwhelming sense of love for my child, sleep deprivation, exhaustion and insecurity about my new role.
I sat near the back of the church discreetly nursing my fussy infant and worried about disturbing those around me. After Mass, an elderly gentleman who had been sitting behind me kindly put his hand on my shoulder and said, “You are a wonderful mother.”
A wave of relief suddenly washed over me. I never crossed paths with that gentleman again, but a few months ago I immediately recognized his picture on the obituary page.
His name was Col. Gerald Russell. I’ve been reading about how he started the Centre County’s United Way Day of Caring and his many other impressive accomplishments, but it was his simple act of offering reassurance to a complete stranger that will always stay with me.
I wish I had had an opportunity to tell him how much his encouragement meant to me at that moment in time.