By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published May 12, 2016
My mother had a favorite tune that she sang while she folded the laundry. “Que sera, sera—whatever will be, will be.”
I loved listening to her stories about growing up in a big house in New York City with her parents, three brothers and two sisters. My grandfather, Antonio, was a plasterer who fashioned the elaborate decorative work on many city buildings.
Meanwhile, my grandmother, Rose Mary, tended house and cooked three big meals each day, all from scratch. That meant pasta shaped by hand and then placed on the backs of dining room chairs to dry.
“Will I be happy, will I be rich?” was a question in the song posed by a child whose mother replied: “The future’s not ours to see.”
My grandparents were certainly not rich, but they apparently were happy. When they were courting, they were never left alone, but legend has it that Antonio learned to sneak kisses behind the newspaper they were reading together in her parents’ home.
Once married, there was the occasional quarrel, and then he would approach the house cautiously, tossing his hat through the door before entering. If the hat was thrown back, he knew his wife needed more time to forgive him.
My mother’s favorite song stays in my mind because the lyrics expressed such a firm faith in providence. No, we can’t see the future, but somehow everything will work out.
The only time my parents prayed aloud was before meal times when the family said the “Bless us, O Lord” standard Catholic grace.
But looking back now, I realize the song echoes a line in the Lord’s Prayer. And “que sera, sera” was perhaps my mother’s way of saying, “Thy will be done.”
I was a dreamy kid who would sometimes pace around our Miami home lost in my imagination as I spun out a web of fantasies about the future.
Often I’d stare out a window, but instead of seeing thickets of palm and banana trees, I envisioned the day when I’d marry a handsome fellow who’d rescue me from the utterly dreary life of a Catholic schoolgirl condemned to wear a beige uniform and saddle oxfords.
He would look remarkably like Elvis Presley and gaze at me adoringly—and be nothing like the awkward high school boys I dated, the ones who stammered when they spoke and tripped when they danced.
According to my diary, I would one day have quite a sizeable family—a dozen children, to be precise—and would also become an amazing fiction writer.
Obviously, dreams don’t all come true, and as it turns out, I didn’t have even one child, although I did write some books.
And there came a day when my prayers were answered, and I met a handsome fellow who did indeed gaze at me lovingly—and also did quite a decent Elvis imitation.
Maybe my mother knew then what it took me a lifetime to see. We are not called to peer into a crystal ball and glimpse the future. The only time given us is the present moment, which swiftly slides into the past.
The future is entirely in God’s hands, and only he knows how many more days, hours and moments we have left.
That girl who daydreamed so much didn’t get the exact life she hoped for, but she did see many of her dreams come true.
And although she certainly didn’t become rich, she was, for quite a long spell, supremely happy. Thanks be to God!
Artwork (“Paraclete”) by Jef Murray. Lorraine Murray’s email address is email@example.com.