Mother Teresa dedicated her life to serve others. On the streets of Calcutta, in the slums where countless faces lived in deplorable poverty her faith was shaken again and again. Yet, with great love she was able to see the face of Jesus in each and every person. She made sure everyone she encountered knew that Jesus loved them and that they mattered. Mother Teresa said on multiple occasions that the people she helped were thankful to be bathed and fed, however they were most thankful to know that they mattered. I am a fruit of her labor.
Mother Teresa opened a home in Calcutta, India called Nirmal Hriday, which in Hindi means “Pure Heart”. It is home for the dying and a place where the gravely ill are brought to die with dignity. My grandmother Margaret died there from tuberculosis when she was in her mid 30’s. She was brought there because she had no place else to go. Her husband had left. She was deathly ill and if it were not for that place, my grandmother would have likely died in the streets like so many others. I can’t imagine her fear. She was on her deathbed with two young children, my mother and her younger sister. What would come of them? Would they end up in the slums? The agony she felt in her heart must have surpassed her physical pain. Mother Teresa helped my grandmother die with dignity and she took in the two orphans.
My mother and her sister were enrolled in the Loreto Convent School for Girls in Calcutta. It was one of the many homes for children that Mother Teresa was associated with. There the two girls were raised and educated in a safe environment with love and discipline. They made lots of friends and have fond memories of the school. Eventually, they graduated and moved on.
My mother moved to England, married and moved to the states. My brother and I were born and so began our life as a typical American family with school events, birthday parties, summer vacations and family get-togethers.
My mom’s sister remained in India, married and also began a family. She lives in Bangalore to this day and has 5 children. Her kids have grown and she is now a grandmother like her sister. She also tells loving stories of graduations, travels, church events and family get-togethers.
This brings me back to Mother Teresa. Imagine how many generations she has shaped by loving and caring for the poor. When my children are old enough to understand, I will tell them this story. We are here because of Mother Teresa’s love for a dying woman that had nowhere else to go. Without hesitation, she took two little girls under her wing and grew them into bright, capable and loving young women. They mattered. I believe it is our heritage, responsibility and great privilege to serve others. We are the fruits of her labor.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.