She looks for Stanley every morning in the vastness of Saint Anthony’s Cathedral. Walking slowly down the long center aisle, she glances discreetly at the few others who have come for the seven o’clock Mass. At the altar rail, she genuflects to the Christ silhouetted against the brightness of the stained glass, and turns right to light a candle at the statue of the saint, patron of lost things and missing persons. She kneels a moment by the flickering bank, then stands to survey the sea of hard-backed pews, still nearly empty, before retreating to her usual spot near the back.
She is a fixture there: Mary Margaret O’Brien, but Granny to everyone, an Irish biddy offering solace to people like Stanley. A petite woman, weathered face tightly framed in a black bonnet and nun-like dress that make her blue eyes more arresting through cut-rim glasses. In her rebellious youth she would have become a priest, had Rome allowed it, but never thought twice about entering a convent. She thought subservience to God a blessing, but not servility to priests, and settled for a life as aide to the sisters in the parochial school.
Although her prayers are of thankfulness for what she has, rather than seeking divine intervention for herself, she often brings others to God’s attention. In this composed, serene moment of her day, she is on the lookout for those whose body language or tearful faces reveal them as anything but composed an serene.
Or hear Don Noel read it: