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Monday, June 13, 2016

TUCKING IN THE SHEETS

Mom had a saying: “The way you make your bed: is the way you sleep in it!”

Today, as I think about it, I get the gist of what she was saying, but I’m still not totally sure.

Through the years, she had other phrases she used on me such as describing her favorite celebrities such as Clark Gabel. “He can park his shoes under my bed anytime!” This was my mother. Being I was young I had no idea what that meant, but I often wondered why the guy would take the trouble of putting his shoes beneath  my mother and father’s bed! And did he leave barefooted, or did he sleep in a closet? (We had a large enough closet)

Another of her favorites was: “If it were a snake it would have bitten you!” This followed: “Ma, I can’t find it anywhere!” Then under my nose, she would find it.

Sometimes in life children will have disagreements with their parents about how things should be. As both the argument and exasperation levels rose she would finally explode with: “WAIT, JUST UNTIL YOU HAVE CHILDREN!” That I thought was hurtful, after all, I would be raising my kids as model children.

Then there were times when I decided that life needed some fun in it, teasing a sister or doing something against the rules was needed to brighten my day. Once the long arm of the law (Mom’s wooden spoon) found me, she would then intone: “WAIT until your father comes home.” This little bit of poetry was her way of instilling fear in my innocent little heart!

Although I figured Mom as a pacifist she could disappoint. There was the Sunday morning so long ago when she would take me to church with her. Her plan was with 5 children I was the one that needed God’s intervention the most. Dad was not a church goer, so he stayed in bed while I got my backside hauled out of bed and off to church we went. Before we left one day Mom said to me:  “Go ask your father for some change for church.” I awaken Dad and ask for money. “Mom said to give me money, lots of it.” Dad was wise beyond his years he gave me two nickels. There is always a rainbow to turn disappointment into happiness and I found mine. Thinking that the two shiny nickels could buy a small pack of miniature donuts and a soda, I pocket the nickels and realize that they look like my mother’s silver buttons! An Idea!

Off to church we go, the Mass is filled with dignified church goers, all dressed well for the occasion and the ushers, dressed like it was their wedding almost; would on the end of a long, long handle send the collection basket down each row of worshipers. Hesitantly I deposit the first of my two silver buttons from Mom’s sewing kit into the collection, Mom puts her money in and I think: Whew, I got away with it!

Mom lifts her eyes to Heaven to continue her prayers and I close mine and think of the donuts and soda I plan to have. The second collection comes and like the first, but with more confidence, I deposit the final of my silver button collect into the basket. Mom drops her money and once again lifts her eyes toward Heaven as I dream once more.

The last prayer is said, the music begins as Mom and I exit the Cathedral like church, with its marble columns and floors, it's domed ceiling with fresco paintings and a grotto right out of Hollywood! We walk the two and a half blocks toward  our three storied apartment building. As we walk I start to comment to Mom but Mom is not answering me, no she is just walking straight ahead like I’m not there! We climb the first flight of steps and then the second flight, still in silence. It is at the top of the final flight do I realize, maybe it would be a good idea to disappear for a while, kind of lay low. I make a u-turn start down the steps when a forced grip on my shoulders suddenly drags me into the apartment! And here, is when Mom’s most dreaded saying came into play. “EMBARRASS ME WILL YOU?” Smack, then another smack followed by more with the same intensity and fury, putting my future in doubt. She drags me over to my father who is sipping his morning coffee at the kitchen table and says:
“TELL YOUR FATHER WHAT YOU DID!”
“NOTHING, ” I say.
“NOTHING” SHE SCREAMS! "YOUR son put buttons in the collection basket instead of the money you gave him!" (I always hated these verbal custody battles)

Dad spits out his coffee and is laughing out loud.
“Sure, encourage him!”

Well, it was a long Sunday as all day long I kept putting on my shoes since Mom kept knocking me out of them, as she yells: EMBARRASS ME WILL YOU?” followed by the after-shock of: “And in God’s house!”

There is a lesson in all of this Dear Readers: Make sure you think things out. Had I sat on Mom’s right side rather than her left, the basket would have passed her first then come to me and she would have missed it all. Even the smallest of details is so important if you want to keep your shoes on all day!

The company arrived that Sunday afternoon and I slipped out of the house and had my reward, donuts, and soda!

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