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Monday, March 21, 2016

CRAZY MARCH


Mom had a saying: “Crazy March, only crazy people are born in March!” She then went ahead and had a few crazy people herself, plus at least 2 grandchildren, mainly my daughter and son!

She thought that the weather was crazy in March, so everything else was too.

March in Mom’s house meant spring cleaning, “Taking the house apart” as she would say.
Going to school in the city back in the 10950’s, they would send us home for lunch, and so I would walk a few blocks and eat at home, then scoot off to the classroom for the rest if the day. On Friday’s Mom would wash the floor, as I entered the apartment, and there on the floor was the latest news. After washing the floor, she would spread newspapers down and we could walk on the wet floors. But in the spring, on her: “Taking the house apart” day, the windows would all be open, the bathroom smelled like a pine forest, and windows were scrubbed and floors vacuumed.  

She would have an egg salad sandwich waiting for us, and God-forbid you made a mess, she would turn your day into Good Friday, crucifixion and all! Such questions like: “What did I raise a slob?” would come from dear sweet mom as you got your ears rounded off! Of course I was the only offender, and she and I both knew it. She would eye me with lovingly sweet threatening eyes and was noted for her perfection of “The point”, a look that sad: “Mom is not happy, happy.” It was always best to eat in the hall that in her kitchen when she was in her cleaning mode.
 
About the time of my infraction
Usually the Lenten Season was winding down and the Easter Holiday was on the horizon, which meant a lot of church time for me. I was a particular project for Mom since she figured she should pay attention to the most likely child to get his butt burned or would sell his soul to the Devil.

Around the time of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday I was it seemed in church 24/7. Mom had a very strict pontifical policy of the fastest way to heaven was to pray, pay attention in church, and get smacked to keep on track. Now don’t get me wrong, there were reasons, for instance:

One year on a Sunday, I really wasn’t in the mode for the idea of having to go to church. It was a beautiful Summer Sunday morning. The thought of having to sit in church with Mom and listen to a guy in a long dress talk to me in Latin and then get up on the pulpit and making me feel bad because I didn’t know what he was talking about was dragging me down. I decided I needed some kind of reward for all this.

“Joseph-go wake up your father and ask him for two nickels or some change for the collection.” This was the germ of an idea!

“Dad, Mom said to give me a couple of nickels for the collection.” Dad ever so grateful to not having to get up for Mass, rolled over and grabbed his pants and fished out two nickels. AH! Perfect. On my way back into the kitchen, I stopped at my mothers’ sewing box and took two silver buttons out of her button box. I couldn’t believe how smart I was! Yes, after Mass, I would get me a bottle of coke for a nickel and a couple of powdered donuts for another nickel. Glory me!

So off to Mass with Mom I go, and enter the huge church, with marble columns and floors, statues all over the place and a huge cross with Christ on it. There were enough candles to light a small city and it was crawling with nuns and priests and an overflow of people wanting to get to heaven. The choir threw out the first song and soon the ushers were coming around. These were gentlemen who wore suits, and carried long, long handled collection baskets, to reach down the pews and get every penny they could from the worshippers.

Mom is in her prayer trance and the basket passes under my nose, I slip in the first of my buttons. Mom puts her money in and we continue our religious experience. The second collection attempts arrive and once again as in the first instance, I drop in my other button, Mom drops in her money and once again we move on to the conclusion of Mass. I can taste the donuts and coke, once I climb the two flight of stairs, change into my street clothes I get my reward!
 
Years later and Mom was handling things better, with a certain amount of resignation!
As we leave the church and head home I start to talk to Mom, but mom is not answering me! Hmmm. This sounds like a problem from previous experiences! We climb the two flights of stairs and I decide maybe it is better to just disappear back down the stairs.

“Well, I’ll see you mom, I’m going back downstairs.” As I turn to go down the steps, this vise-like grip is upon my shoulders, and I am be reeled backward into the apartment, and the words: “EMBARRASE ME WILL YOU?” SMACK! “EMBARRASE ME WILL YOU?” AND ONCE AGAIN SMACK! YOU are going NOWHERE!” WAIT UNTIL I TELL YOUR FATHER!

In I go and dropped in front of dad’s presence, who is enjoying his first cup of coffee. “Tell your father what you did.”

“Nothing”

“WHAT?”

Menacing she hovers over me.

“OK, I put a couple of buttons in the collection baskets.

My father literally spits out his coffee. (Probably on Mom’s clean floor) Dad is laughing so hard that Mom is now yelling at him, and points out that if he went to church once in a while, I might be behaving better.

So you see, March hasn’t always been good to me.

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