Executive Secretary, Secretary to the Superintendent, Secretary to the Principal…such are the titles that the office personnel in a school might have. At Seton, we call all our office staff “Office Moms”. It is not a lesser title, in fact, it is a greater title than any of the above. Seton’s office moms are just that. Moms take on all duties and responsibilities that come their way because they are moms. No two days are alike because children are constantly growing and changing and needs change with them, with the constant that they always need motherly attention. Seton’s office moms give the school the maternal touch that makes it more of a home than an institution.
Whether the OM is stationed in the front line of the office cubicle by the glass doors, or in the more spacious confines of the newer office in Corpus Christi, or tucked away in the oddly configured room called Bethlehem, she is always being a mom first and whatever else she is called to be second.
The glass door office area unlike most places at Seton doesn’t have a saint’s name. It might be called Command Central Cubicle. Maybe even better, at least for me, we might just call it “Houston” for all the times I went to the window and began, in essence with, “Houston, I have a problem,” and then had the problem taken care of in a motherly way and panic turned into relief.
From Mrs. Severe to Mrs. Cooper with the many other moms we would insert in between such as Warrick, Ghering, Daniel, Parriot, Supples and Akers, to name a few, the OM’s have kept Seton on the rails and headed to the station to the completion of each school day.
It is an anomaly that Bethlehem is always called “Bethlehem” when so many of the other titled rooms in the school are called “Mrs. Carroll’s Room” or “the room across from the teacher’s room” or “one of those rooms in the gym”. Maybe Bethlehem was perfectly named. What other word calls to mind motherhood better than Bethlehm where in a lodge of broken bark the Mother of all Mothers first cared for her Infant Son? The unusual circumstances and rustic surroundings of Christmas night only served to make Blessed Mother more of a mother. And the room Bethlehem at Seton is unusual and on the rustic side. Its narrowness and vaulted ceiling gives a cathedral aspect to it, but never has a space been so filled with stuff: the wall of textbooks, the humming Rizo and Xerox copiers, the stacks of paper that engulf Mrs. Parriot’s computer, the side area with Mr. Scheetz’s tools. I don’t know if it has changed in the past four years, but my guess would be that only more has been added with nothing subtracted. And there the OM’s just keep on being moms.
Why should I be writing about office moms now? It is because the Office Mom of all office moms has her body laid to rest today. The last name in the truncated list above, Mrs. Akers, died on March 12th after embracing her cross of suffering these past years. She was in the cubicle, she was a secretary and a receptionist, but she was first and foremost a mom. With her there, the cubicle was a home where she practiced the art of motherhood to her children who included every student and every teacher and ever visitor that entered through the glass doors. She was the face of Seton, and that face was one of joy. A month before her death, Mrs. Akers was facing the prospect of another round of chemo. What did she do? I only know the beautiful thing she did for Mom me in that time, which I can assume was representative of the many beautiful things she did in her last month and throughout her lifetime. Mrs. Akers sent a homemade Valentine to Mom and me. It was better than anything Hallmark has thought up and penned in her perfect script. It was thoughtful and giving – it was motherly in its essence. And what did she have to say about herself. Just this: God is holding me in the palm of His hand.
No doubt. And on March 12th that palm lifted up the soul of the one He had made to be a mom to so many.
Eternal Rest Mrs. Akers and please pray for all of us known as Seton.
Jezu, ufam Tobie.