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.
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 Holy Communions
10 Our Fathers
10 Hail Marys
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.