From Tragedy to Triumph
If you ever attend the 9:15 Mass, you can’t miss the man who is nothing short of a big teddy bear ready to greet you and direct you to a seat with a good view. Head Usher, Jim Mottram never misses a beat and ALWAYS (yes, always) has a big smile on his face. Although his smile is contagious, his story is what’s captivating. About four years ago, his life crumbled. His first grandson, Nolan, died when he was just a few days old. Then, weeks later, his only son, Charlie died in a car crash on State Road 82. “Why, God, why?” would be the first words out of anyone’s mouth. Is there anything more debilitating? In our interview, Jim opened up about the unimaginable time in his life- But also, how in a moment of extreme tragedy, he didn’t run from God– Instead, he chased Him. As we reflect on All Souls’ Day and celebrate the lives of our deceased loved ones; be inspired by a story that will have you remembering about your loved one’s ‘dash’ (we’ll explain)—and remind you to live life to the fullest each and every day.DOWNLOAD THE BULLETIN
Danielle Koleniak: Before we go into your loss, how is everything right now?
Jim Mottram: The family is doing really well. Everyone is healthy. The girls are involved with different things and flourishing. We’ve come back to the church. That’s what is most amazing about this whole thing. We lost four family members here in Florida and also my brother who lived up north, all within a short period of time. It makes you angry in a sense, but then you stop and think…there had to be reasons for this. My son Charlie, for example: It took me so long to even be able to come around and talk about it. I can talk about it all the time now. It even makes me feel better to talk about him. I truly believe that God decided to take him at that particular time because He realized Charlie would be suffering too much on this earth. I find comfort in knowing God has a place for him in that case. Of course, it was too soon. It hurt us. You can’t compare the loss of your own child.
DK: You experienced a lot of tragedy in a short period of time- making it pretty easy to be angry at God.
JM: Oh, yes. I was angry in my own little way. I would ask myself, “Why did God do this?” and “What did we do wrong?” It was difficult to comprehend—debilitating. We still have our moments, but my wife and I both realized that God had a plan and a plan for us. That plan is working. My daughters say they find strength in everything they do because of their brother. We still feel his presence is around us. It’s amazing what believing and giving your faith back to God can do for healing.
DK: Looking at your relationship with God before the loss and looking at it now- explain to me the difference.
JM: I used to be an altar boy and I went to church all the time with my parents. I was bored with it. Then as I grew older, I drifted away. When I came to St. John XXIII, it renewed my faith. When the tragedy began with the loss of my first grandson, Nolan, we were so thankful to God that He guided us to this church and community. They took care of us and renewed our faith in God.
DK: You always seem so happy. You must have some weak moments at times?
JM: I do. I have my moments. I used to feel ‘poor me,’ but I see now that we’ve been blessed with four children. One was called away to God. I still have three beautiful, healthy girls who are making a great life for themselves. They miss him greatly, but they also use him as inspiration
DK: About a year after baby Nolan died, CC was born. Tell me about your grandson?
JM: He’s three years old now, almost four. He’s so special. He is the light of my world. He’s a lot like a Charlie in a sense. That too, has helped me cope. He’s funny. It’s amazing. We teach him about God, too. He also thinks Father Bob is God. We are doing our best to explain that Father Bob is God’s messenger—He’ll get it eventually.
DK: For someone who has experienced a lot of loss, what does All Souls’ Day mean to you?
JM: I celebrate everyone who has died and gone to heaven, not just the people I lost in my life. It’s for everybody. It’s also one of my daughter’s birthdays. It gives you time to reflect on everyone who has died and is with God, and also who you get to celebrate life with.
DK: You have four family members buried at our memorial garden. What does it mean to you to have them so close and at your parish?
JM: It’s wonderful. It’s beautiful to walk out there and reflect. It’s nice to be able to talk to someone so close and to talk to God. It’s like you go into another world when you’re there. Knowing that they’re right there has really helped us cope. My grandson and son are right next to each other. Whenever I’m in the memorial garden, I’m reminded that God has a plan for all of us. I have peace about it. I have my moments where I wish my son was still around. I wish I could see what would have been, so I think about what he did when he was alive. He had such an impact. I think about the dash (-). He was born in 1988 and died in 2010. The dash in between those two dates represents his whole life.
That’s what life is about- how you spend the ‘dash’ in your life!