This post is about a very simple and beautiful necklace from my mother. Instead of being passed on, this was a gift from her. My mother was never terribly religious, but was deeply spiritual, a trait that she most certainly passed on to me. Let me set the stage. My Grandfather, Herman Paul Tasman, (H.P. to his friends, Herm, to my grandmother) was a luminary in his field, simultaneously a pioneer in the field of modern linguistics and computer technology. My grandfather spent most of his adult life in the employ of the IBM corporation. During that time, he was assigned to two major projects that not only shaped his life, but also helped facilitate the way ancient texts could be interpreted, and digitally archived for future generations of scholars and students. My grandfather was integral in indexing the Dead Sea Scrolls, and also spent nearly 30 years helping to prepare a computerized index of the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas.
My grandfather was assigned by IBM to work with the Rev. Roberto Busa, a Jesuit priest, on the Aquinas book, a joint effort of an Italian financial committee and the Roman Catholic Church. He and Father Busa compiled the 50-volume Index Thomisticus, a comprehensive concordance of the 13th-century philosopher's writings.
The job involved indexing more than 12 million words, 16 times longer than there are in the Bible. It took about 10,000 computer hours and 1 million human hours to finish.and my grandfather retired from IBM in 1969, the year the work was completed.
With all that, I truly believe that my grandfather was more scientific than religious, and so my mother was raised with a religious void, but a spiritual heart. Padre Busa, became one of my grandfather's best friends, and truly a part of my family. After my mother passed away, I found letters from him in response to my mother asking for advice (on what I will not say, because, I do not believe that she would have wanted to share) He wrote to her in the most understanding and compassionate way, like a caring parent would.
Padre Busa passed away in 2011, but before that time, he officiated at my grandfather's funeral, and graciously, let my family stay with him in the monastery he lived in north of Milan in the 90's
In the 1980's my grandfather was called to the vatican (circa John Paul II) to receive an award which is called the 'Commedatore' (Literally Knight Commander, the official title of Commendatore is awarded by decree of the President of Italy to individuals who are given this honor in the Italian Order of Merit known as the Ordine al Merito della Repubblica and other orders of knighthood. The Commendatore (or Knight Commander) rank is a higher award than that of "Ufficiale" (Officer), which in turn is higher than the first level of "Cavaliere" in this order of chivalry which was originally established in Italy by the Royal House of Savoy."
I am not really sure how my mom and Mike got an audience with Pope Benedict, (and to be honest, he was not my favorite ) But they did. And when they were at the Vatican, my mom got me this beautiful pendent. As I mentioned earlier, my mom was more spiritual then religious, and so I believe that the Mary pendent was purely about mother and child. I know that Mary was always my mom's favorite Icon, and that she probably got this for me with that in mind. Many years ago, when my oldest daughter was still in a crib, she was very ill, and I was scared. In a moment of prayer, I pulled out the pendant and hung it on the rail of her crib. A symbol of a mother watching over her child. And then it disappeared, Years passed, and I did not find it. And then one day, as I was cleaning my daughters' room to make way for her big girl bed, there it was on the floor. A reminder that my mother was still watching over me. Mom, I feel you in those moments, and in every moment. Thank you for still being there for me in so many ways. Thanks for still watching over me.
I love you.