My mother, Catherine Helen (Burke) Wittekind, was born with “blue baby” syndrome in 1925 in New York City and was told that she would never be able to ride a bike or play sports. In the early 1940’s my mom had a surgical procedure to repair the symptoms of this heart impairment. The prognosis, in terms of life expectancy, was age 35, but God had other plans for my mom.
My mom married my dad, Eugene when she was 30. Because of her past medical history, she was advised not to have any children. Over the next 14 years, my parents were blessed with one daughter, myself, and 6 sons. Medical diagnosis was defied according to God’s purpose for our family. My dad served in the U.S. Army for 20 years, which provided an opportunity for our family to travel extensively throughout this period. It was indeed, faith, which carried my parents though every step of their journey (Massachusetts, Alabama, Germany, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Australia, Connecticut, Indiana and South Carolina). After my dad’s passing in 1999, my mom moved to Arizona to be closer to four of my brothers.
Because she never lived alone during her entire life, when it was time for my mother to enter a nursing facility, we were extremely fortunate to learn of Jeanne Jugan Residence from the Oblate Sisters in 1999. The Little Sisters of the Poor graciously accepted my mother into their home in Newark in 2003 until her recent passing in February, 2011. For over seven years, Catherine enjoyed the companionship of her fellow residents but also the many friends, staff, volunteers and especially the hospitality of the Little Sisters. The latter stage of my mom’s live was filled with happiness and joy with her involvement with the Red Hatters, her love of Bingo and the many social activities at Jeanne Jugan Residence.
My blessings from the Little Sisters were their precious gift of hospitality and peace and I am forever grateful for the Home Mom was blessed to have enjoyed at Jeanne Jugan Residence.