Matt C. Abbott
'Watch over Eleanor Weaver' – from Mary
By Matt C. Abbott
April 6, 2018

Below is a short and edifying story sent to me by reader Tonchi Weaver. God bless you, Tonchi!

In early 2001, I kept constant vigil with my mother-in-law, who was not Catholic or even very religious, beside the hospital bed of my father-in-law who had cancer and was near death. "Look at him!" she said one afternoon as he lay there silently sleeping. "If he were a dog we could put him out of his misery."

Shocked by her words, I responded, "Grandma! You don't mean that. He's not miserable – we are, because we know that he's leaving us. Besides, if this time is necessary for his salvation, would you deny him that?" "I guess not," she said, "but if I ever get cancer, I'm not going to take treatment. I'm just going to die."

In August of 2003, Eleanor was diagnosed with cancer and her doctors didn't expect her to see Christmas that year, but she decided to take treatment. We spent a lot of time together in doctor's offices, and I took her to the Mayo Clinic to make sure no stone was left unturned in the effort to prolong her life.

We became very close during this time – a complete reversal of our previously strained relationship. I was the only Catholic in the family and I always assured her that I was praying for her. "Keep it up," she would say. "You're doing a good job." I don't know if she prayed for herself. I never asked her, but I knew that she counted on my prayers and I didn't want to let her down.

Four rounds of chemo, three Christmases and two great-grandchildren later, her race was coming to an end.

The day before she died, Eleanor was in a state of reverie most of the day. At one point the hospice nurse came in to help me adjust her position in the bed. While we were doing that, the nurse's pager kept buzzing. She'd look at it, shake her head and ignore it until it buzzed again. After the third time, I asked if the pager was malfunctioning. She told me, "No, but the message just seems strange." The message said, "Watch over Eleanor Weaver," and it was from Mary. "Of course I'm watching over her," the nurse said, "but there's no Mary on staff."

Later that night my husband and his brother came in to sit at their mother's bedside. I left the room for a short while, but when I came back, Eleanor sat straight up in bed and said, "Who's that girl?!" with wonder in her voice. My husband and his brother looked askance at each other and said, "Uh, that's Tonchi, Mom."

"I know it is," she said, "but who's that with her?" None of us could see anyone else there. "Where?" we asked. Eleanor smiled serenely and said, "Look up!" We were stunned. We didn't know what to say.

Eleanor looked at her sons and at me and said, "You all need to go home and get some rest; I'm going to do the same." Obediently, we kissed her goodnight and left her in the care of her sister and brother for the night. That was the last time we saw her; she died the next morning.

On the way home that night, my husband and I talked about the mysterious "girl" his mother saw. I told him about the pager incident that afternoon and wondered aloud if it could have been the Blessed Mother. Through tears, my Lutheran husband asked me to teach him the words of the Hail Mary.

Later that year, after 32 years of marriage, he became a Catholic.

I hold these small miracles in my heart and recognize them as signs of God's infinite mercy and love. They comfort me greatly.

Related links of interest:

"Dying with Jesus and Mary"

"Deathbed visions"

© Matt C. Abbott


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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