Lessons from my Mom

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My Mother. My Mother, I'll tell two stories and then let you discuss. Put on your gracious Irish post-lace-curtain near-middle class Long Island accent for this, 'cuz I'm gonna.
Preamble to Stories: My Mother wanted to be a member of the nunnery, she was highly recruited, and as a basically good person, could be a devout nun, even a pious (in the good sense) nun. This was a time of honor, a time when devotion meant something positive. A big family value, if you will.
Well, yada yada, flash forward 35 years or so. My Mother, who had been very active in the Catholic Church for like ever, became the head of Catholic Charities, and generally had her hand in the practical everyday affairs of the Diocese. Being an altar boy I had been working the altar boy circuit, but that was years past.
As I recall the stories, I may take license here, but not gonna lie, truth.
So, Story 1: Late one night, probably 10pm or so, a man knocks on the door of the Sacristy, disturbing the priests and (grr, name of the lady who answered the door, can't remember). The man pleads with the priest, "Please, Father, my children need some food, I only need twenty dollars and I can feed them". So the priest hands the man twenty dollars and blesses him and sends the very grateful man on his way.
The next day Mom hears of this story. She bursts into his office (license, but not a lie haha) and tells the priest, "You idiot! You should have driven him home and brought a bag of Wetson's and fries on the counter and fed the family. Instead, because you were annoyed and it was late, you gave a drunk twenty dollars, who then went and bought a bunch of hooch and then went home and put his wife in a hospital." The facts are true despite my embellishment. I do that because it makes me angry. Plus my Mom would.
So, Story 2: My Mom helped people. As manager, oh wait, Catholic Charities Czar, haha, it was her job to oversee some amount Saint Sylvester's Catholic Charities budget and make sure it was well-used. How corrupt was she? She implemented an event where, every year, in late August, she would open up the church parking lot to everyone in the town. And she encouraged local businesses to donate and participate, and she got the chamber of commerce involved, and she used cc funds to provide new shoes, notebooks, shirts and other clothing, pens, hats.. for free. To ANYONE who wanted them. Didn't matter if they went to church. Didn't matter if they couldn't get there, just call and give shoe sizes.
And because of Pat, many, many children went to school that year (and many years after) with a spring in their step, which happened to have a new sneaker on it, for school.
My Mom Rocked.

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mimi's picture

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Bluesee's picture

Eventually, like every other middle-class pair of empty-nesters on Long Island, they packed up, flew down South, to Crystal River FL. They represented an invasive species for sure! I lived near there, in Ocala, as a hippie native for nine years as a youth, went to college there, grew up next to Tom Petty's home in Gainesville. But when I did business with the natives thirty years later I was the Other for sure. Yankee invader. I could see it in the mannerisms of the guys who rented canoes on the Withlacoochee River.

But my Mom was completely frustrated and ineffective in the churches of the Deep South, for reasons discussed above. I even think she stopped going to church, which to her must have been painful.

P.S. - My last post was kind of a hit n run, and for that I apologize. I want to re-open the dialogue about my friend Paul O'Neill soon.. you guys rock

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Bernie is a win-win.

Raggedy Ann's picture

My parents were very strong Catholics, too. Mom taught first grade catechism almost 40 years. I never had the heart to tell her the priest threw me out of Newman Club because I wanted him to UN-mysterize the mysteries of the church. It was the beginning of my conversion to reincarnationism.

My dad once lamented where he went wrong with his four children because none were adult Catholics. I reminded him nothing was wrong, he taught us to think for ourselves and we all thoughtfully chose not to participate in Catholicism.

Thanks for the memories! Pleasantry

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"If there is not justice for the people, let there be no peace for the government." Emiliano Zapata

Bluesee's picture

@Raggedy Ann Yes, I have also since rejected Catholicism, and religion in general. Also, although I do believe in a deity, a God (see my wet NDE, where I met her), I am convinced that it is a "she".
I attribute this to being free to make up my own mind, which is, historically, quite a blessing!

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Bernie is a win-win.

dkmich's picture

Your mom sounds like a great and smart lady. She obviously raised a son who knows how to love and respect her.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

*donate to c99 *like us on Facebook *follow us on Twitter

Thank you for this memory and for raising some very important subjects that I hope we get to in this forum, like parents having time to do charity, religious groups working to help people in need, and the Church itself, how powerful it could be as a force for good if it really decided to. Peace.

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riverlover's picture

I am trying to think of any time when she stood up for me. Crickets. Others' mothers were kinder and feistier. I am fairly sure that she must have, but the smoke has still not cleared. She is dead, cremains on a shelf in my sister's closet. And I have a stainless steel post in my foot I should call mother. Both metallic implants in my body need to be removed, undone.

I was the first child-product of my parents, a decade after their marriage. Tuberculosis intervened during WWII. I can look at facts but still now feel threats. And I did do their golden girl wishes. More depessing pondering to go.

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Hey! my dear friends or soon-to-be's, JtC could use the donations to keep this site functioning for those of us who can still see the life preserver or flotsam in the water.

White flag the 3rd's picture

A somewhat corny poem I wrote with Mom in mind:
You win
I have two words to rub together.
My shoe laces are frayed.
My hair is mussed up,
but my bed is made.
God sent me an angel
She doesn’t have anything to say.
I gave her the first word.
(It’s just better that way).
She took the word,
a letter I,
before she flew away.
Now I’m down to just one word
I knelt again to pray.
I surrendered did you hear me?
Will you show me how to live?
Give me a sign to set me free.
The one word left was give.

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