About Ma By JL
By John B. Lombardo
As I sit in a chair next to Ma at the Matthew House, perhaps during one of her last hours here with us, I feel that serenity and peace that always swept over me whenever I was near her. There is an unmistakable strength and courage that is unique to her, to Elizabeth C. Lombardo, and that always came near whenever she was with me. A feeling that she was always next to me, and that she will always be with me. Betty was a truly gentle soul.
I sit here and wonder how it was that I was so lucky to have had her on my side for as long as I can remember. A sentiment I am sure is echoed by my brother Lou and sister Francine, and by the many people that she met and touched on her journey, and by all those who she helped along the way.
Betty started to feel ill in the autumn of 1998. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and needed surgery and chemotherapy to hopefully cure the disease. She responded well to both procedures, and came through with a renewed strength and feeling better than she had felt in a while. Through it all, she never once let it bother her, or never once doubted that she would be fine. The next few years brought about further problems, both from the disease, from the cures, and from complications brought about by the original illness and the ensuing curative procedures.
Though Elizabeth spent most of the last year in and out of the hospital, her faith never wavered in the face of what was coming. Though she could no longer get to Church, she watched Mass and said the rosary daily along with those on the EWTN channel. Even until her final days, she would say “one step at a time.” She would never give up, and would never stop believing that was going to somehow get better.
She was to us, a mother and a friend in the truest sense of the word. Betty possessed a great understanding of the really important things, the things that elude most of us. She knew the real meaning of family, love, friendship, and courage. She never asked for much for herself, and gave selflessly of herself, of her spirit and strength, more than anyone of us can ever realize. Although she suffered much toward the end, I am sure she never viewed it as suffering, but as another source of strength, another way to nurture the spirit.
Most of all, Elizabeth believed in good things, and wanted only the best for any of us. She took us all into her heart, a heart that is as big as creation, and gave back to us anything that we needed. He spirit and strength, and her never ending energy for giving, is what sustained her, and many of us, through times that we never thought we would survive. Elizabeth was always there, and she will always be there. She has left us with things that we have not begun to understand, but simply, she has left us with a better more spiritually deeper world than it was before she got here. This part of her will be a part of us, and will live on with us forever.
On Elizabeth’s behalf, we wish to thank all the skillful and wonderful doctors, nurses, aids, and friends that she has met along the way. We wish to thank Father Berard for being there to anoint her, and give her communion; Mrs. Wrobel for her monthly spiritual visits; Father DeBellis for his blessing, and for making her laugh; and those from the hospice and the Mathew House for caring for her, and for making her last days comfortable and peaceful.
We will remember Elizabeth for her strength and for her courage, for her positive force, and for her ability to care above and beyond the call of duty. She never questioned anything she was called to do, and always did what she had to do. Through it all, she never wavered in her faith, a faith that sustained her, and us until this very day. She has left us with more than we can imagine.
So on behalf of all of us here as we celebrate the greatness of your life, thanks, Ma!