Tell my son’ said the body lying on the bed. The words spilled out with all the force she could muster ‘tell my son if you can, that I have cancer. That I will like to know how he is before I die’
Don Giulio stepped out of the clinic gate, a new responsibility on his shoulders. He was the chaplain of a prison in the south of Italy; a prison that housed many members of the Italian mafia. Including a boy, a young man of twenty – three. Of him, Don Giulio knew only two facts. That he was like the other mafias whose goal was power and only power; And, that he had a mother who was on her deathbed in Rome.
‘Things will sort themselves out’ he mused to himself, his over-rational self as he liked to call it. How best to communicate the message to the boy was his worry. ‘Tell my son…’ the dying woman had said. ‘Dear Holy Spirit of God’ Don Giulio prayed ‘may this son listen!’
The boy was weeping inside his whitewashed cell. ‘I have no mother’ he had screamed, banging the door in Don Giulio’s face. Yet, he was weeping. Don Giulio remained standing outside, listening to it. It was saying for the umpteenth time that the thread that connects man to the Good has not and will never be lost, whatever happens.
Footsteps. Sounds not of weeping. A prison warden with his keys dangling from his hips. Don Giulio beckoned to him and pointed to the door screen.
Now Don Giulio could see him. The boy without a mother was still crying.
‘You do have a mother’ Don Giulio maintained ‘How fortunate you are! Without her, you will not be a man’.
‘Yes, a man’ he said, as the young man’s bowed head jerked up and back down again. ‘You won’t be a man and much less, a mafia’.
And he stepped out of this other door, one less responsibility off his broad shoulders.
‘Now let the young man cry’ it said to him. There will be time for conversation later.