I certainly do know a "Magnificent Mom." I nominate Cecelia Terronez -- "Cis," as she is affectionately known -- as worthy of the title "Most Magnificent." In simplest terms, I've known her as my mother-in-law for some 35 years.
I often jokingly refer to Mrs. Terronez as the "Mother of our Country." There aren't many folks in the Quad-Cities who don't either know Cis or aren't related to her. At age 86, she shows no signs of slowing down. Her only goal in life has been to be a loving mother and grandmother. She is proud to boast of having more than 70 children and grandchildren. The exact total of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren is as ever-changing as the gross national product, hence my dubbing her the "Mother of our Country." In addition, she is godmother to many other Quad-Citians. She also has babysat for many other young families over the years and is admired and loved by those individuals in her extended families.
Cecelia Terronez is as delightful a person as you will ever meet. Whether it's in a quiet doctor's office or at a dinner out, she engages everyone around her in pleasant conversation and laughter. I'll typically say to her, "Who was that?," to which she often replies, "I don't know! Just someone I met," or "She used to be the nurse at my doctor's office (some 25 or so years ago). You remember?"
Although a loyal Kennedy Democrat and born on Nov. 22 (the infamous day of JFK's assassination), she has very few political opinions. She is a simple woman. The only home she's ever had is a small, modest home with two small bedrooms. However, to Cecelia, it's her castle. She's never owned a new car, much less even a used car. She's never really had anything new, excluding perhaps a washer and dryer. Her only "wish list" is that her family find peace and success in their lives. She is as unselfish as our Lord. Speaking of our Lord, I'll conclude with a humorous story of a day that I won't soon forget.
It was a Sunday, and my wife and I were pinch-hitting to pick her up for Sunday Mass. We arrived at the house only to discover she'd overslept and wasn't close to being ready. After a quick discussion, it was mutually decided we'd go on, and she would simply miss that Mass. Long story short, another daughter fortunately arrived after we left, and by then Cecelia was dressed and ready to go.
When Cis finally arrived, the center rear doors of the church opened. The priest was at least a third of the way through the Mass and was seated facing the rear of the church. Although she quietly tried to tiptoe into Mass, many parishioners saw and acknowledged her as she walked down the aisle to her usual seat in the front row. She couldn't just casually ignore the acknowledgements and adulation of "her people." She simply reacted in the way she would normally react. She waved, smiled and acknowledged each and every person who was responding to her. It was an unintentional and innocent interruption in the Mass.
Ordinarily, a priest might have been justifiably offended by the sway of attention. However, even a young Father Walder couldn't help but be touched by what was happening. Father chided her after Mass when he told her, "I thought for a minute there I was going to have to stop the Mass!" In a scene reminiscent of Marlon Brando in "The Godfather," Cis could only smile and apologize. To this day, I still tease her about it. It wasn't the fact that she came in late. It was the way she came in: Saint Cecelia came down the aisle with an aura reminiscent of a Jackie Kennedy, a Michelle Obama or even Queen Elizabeth herself. Father Walder could only smile. Father realized he was in the presence of magnificence.
Today is Wednesday, May 22, the 142nd day of 2013. There are 223 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: Large quantities of ice from LaCrosse and Lake Pepin are beingshipped on ice boats, towed by steamers to St. Louis and points below. 1888 -- 125 years ago: With the Mississippi River at 18 feet above the low water stage,Rock Island is waging a valiant fight to keep the river from flooding the entire city. 1913 -- 100 years ago: Approval has been given by the city commission for paving 45thStreet between 7th and 11th Avenues. 1938 -- 75 years ago: Herndon Wright, of East Moline, has won the discus-throw title, by aheave of more than 140 feet, to set a new high school record at Champaign. 1963 -- 50 years ago: With the Selective Service Law recently extended by Congress forfour more years, Mrs. Hazel Doris reminded young men that they must register withinfive days after attaining their 18th birthday. 1988 -- 25 years ago: Over 500 Quad-Cities area retired volunteers were honoredrecently for their community services at a Retired Senior Volunteer Program luncheonat Palmer Auditorium in Davenport. Guest speaker, William Moffitt, director of productengineering of Deere & Co., spoke about leadership and stressed the importance ofcommunity volunteers.