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Thank You Note, The Prequel

My MIL did indeed receive Cailey’s heartfelt thank you note from last week. She got quite a surprise and a really good chuckle out of it. I’m blessed to have a MIL with an extraordinarily good sense of humor. Then she did what any good grandmother would do under the circumstances. She hung it on the refrigerator.

I’m lying.

She placed it in a file. She keeps a file for all cards and letters worth saving, and when the child or grandchild reaches adulthood, they inherit the file. She’s a wise woman.

I started thinking about the kinds of things my own mother kept from our childhood. And it pretty much encompassed everything. She kept my grandfathers gold teeth after he died, for crying out loud. By the way, those same gold teeth now reside in a small envelope in my jewelry drawer. Along with my own childhood baby teeth.

For reasons that I cannot fathom, this really creeps Fiddledaddy out.

The day my mother died, I found myself having to sort through her desk to find important insurance paperwork. My mother’s method of filing was to stuff whatever she deemed important into any crevice that would hold such a document. In whatever part of the house that she happened to be. On this somber day, as I pulled bits and pieces of paper out of drawers, I came across something that I had given her when I was a Catholic schoolgirl of about 8. It was a paper card listing the penance for my misdeeds. On the front I had colored in crayon, a cross, and what kind of looks like a manger. Or a birds nest, I can’t be sure. On the inside was the following laundry list:

To Mom and Dad,

3 Masses
3 Holy Communions
10 Our Fathers
10 Hail Marys
10 Ejaculations

The quiet of the room of mourners was interrupted. Tears began to fly from my eyes as I fell to the floor in a heap. Racked with inappropriate laughter. As I passed this Holy document around the room, I was joined by my mother’s family and close friends.

What I had forgotten, since it had been a few decades since I’d entered the sanctity of the confessional, is that “ejaculations” is a Catholic term for “short burst of prayer.”


And my mother kept this tattered piece of paper, I’m sure, to give to me when I had my own children. Children she would not live to meet. Although, on that day that my mother died, and I found that childhood card that she had been keeping for over 30 years, I was carrying a very tiny fetus that would grow up to be called “Emme.” So really, my own penance for all the grief that I gave my parents, are my own three exasperating children. Perfect.

I took that note that my mother had saved and I did what any good mother would do. I hung it on my fridge.

Oh yes I did.

25 Responses to Thank You Note, The Prequel

  • There are no words.

    Ok, there’s words.

    But not viewable for print.


  • That is so funny! My parents gave me a whole folder full of all the stuff I had made them. I loved it. I have huge boxes for each kid that I put in all of the cards and drawing they have made for me. Even the ones that say, “Dear God, please tell my mom not to be so mean,”

  • That just makes me cry! We lost my MIL in April when her only granddaughter was just 2 months old. So far I haven’t found any incriminating evidence about my husband’s childhood. I’m still looking though! Now, go do your penance. 🙂

  • Oh. My. Goodnss. I had forgotten that one too!!! I always laugh inappropriately at funerals–everyones. It seems that that is my means of coping with grief.

  • Oh, Lord! I am laughing and crying at the same time 🙂

  • How fun to find that after all those years and probably when you needed that laugh the most!

  • SNORT! I grew up Catholic and we did not have ejaculations, or at least not that anyone talked about. Y’all must have been a much more progressive parish!

  • Reading this makes me giggle at what my poor sons are going to have to sort through some day! I hope they have a moment like you did, though!

  • I see I missed some fun time growing up in the Church of Christ…

  • And I thought growing up Lutheran was way better than growing up Catholic…… and WHY did my dad leave the Catholic church??? You’d think he’d he be happy to be in trouble. I’m going to have to have a talk with him.

    I save my kiddos goofy notes, too. LOL

  • When I was young I had to do a project where I started a recipe file. I copied a recipe for “Exotic Chocolate Cake” in my finest cursive handwriting. Only I forgot to put the cross on the “X” so instead it read “E r o t i c Chocolate Cake.” My mother saved that recipe card and gave it to me at my bridal shower.

  • Good heavens. I didn’ really know those prayers sound like “ejaculations”. I’m never again saying any without laughing my head off.
    In respectful silence, obviously.

  • I about died when I read that! Not being Catholic, I turn to my coworker to ask her about this since she is a Catholic. She had know idea and called her mom. Now mind you, I didn’t read on down to notice your acutal explanation…….her mom said that it was the correct term and I about fell off my chair. Her mom went on to explain it and I kept reading to find out that in fact it tis true. Boy, you learn something new everyday! Thanks for making me laugh! I need to see if the Methodist church wants to add that to our weekly worship.

  • What a wonderful, yet funny story. I agree with Carolyn..you learn something new everyday…I had no idea!

  • Funny and poignant. I love that you put it on the fridge.

  • You made a spiritual bouquet! I had no idea what that was until my mom was talking about one a few weeks ago. I took her to one of the “Catholic stuff” stores in town and when sh showed it to me I almost died…

    there’s something a little weird about reading the word “ejaculation” while you are surrounded by statues of Our Lady of Guadalupe and crucifixes

  • I saw your “famous realitives” post in Rocks in my Dryer, and guess what? We are related!

    Nice to “meet” you, cousin!

  • Oh, I can’t stop laughing! That really cracks me up!

  • Absolutely priceless!

  • How sweet. 😉 I love finding my grandma’s notes around. One day I’ll enjoy finding my mom’s notes too. I’m thankful she’s still here with me.


  • oh my! once again you’ve struck a chord that sounds way too familiar.

  • Oh my word!! I laughed when I read your post, but by the time I got done with the comments….well, tears are rolling down my face, I am sniffling and if I don’t get to the bathroom soon……. LOL!!!

  • Being a good Southern Baptist girl, I was lost without your explanation. :>)

    That is a hoot!

  • SO glad you explained that. Laughing so hard and the note and crying at the sweet memory your mom left you with.