Those of you who follow my blog know that I participate in the Catholic tradition of Nocturnal Adoration on the first Friday of every month. We pray and meditate in the presence of the Precious Body of Christ in the form of the consecrated bread.
I think I’m a better Catholic and a better person because of the time I spend with Jesus. I’m a better person, because I’m a little more compassionate and understanding of people, after I give up an hour of my time in the silence and darkness of a Saturday morning.
This morning was special because July 6, 2019 marks my mother’s 100th birthday. She probably hated being a stay at home mother, but I think she was good at it. She was there for us. And maybe that’s why we all turned out more or less OK. There were plenty of times she was bored out of her skull. She was a bright woman, who didn’t get a chance to go to college. She got a good job during a time when any kind of a job for anybody were hard to come by.
And she had some jobs that sucked too. One job was turning Bull Durham bags. Bull Durham was cigarette tobacco that was loose, for those intrepid souls who rolled their own cigarettes. Remember Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon?
The tobacco came in a white cotton bag, a cheap muslin, with a yellow drawstring.. The bags had to be “turned”. They were sewn inside out and people were paid at a piecework rate for turning them, Mother and her sister, Lizzie, and their mother, whom everyone called Tootsie, turned the bags. There was a little wire tool they used to get the job done. This was The Depression, y’all. And I suspect a lot of my readers may not have heard how hard things were.
So when Reynolds Metals, (think Reynolds Wrap) relocated to Richmond around 1940, Mother stood on line to apply for a secretarial job and was hired. She worked for a VP in the International Department, named Mr Zick, because she was fluent in Spanish and he needed a translator. She took Spanish at John Marshall High School. Imagine eighty years ago, one could do quite a lot with a high school diploma.
So she had this job, married my Dad. He went off to war and came back in one piece. Eventually she left work because of family demands. Mom and Dad had four children. I am number two.
Mother sang in the choir, taught Sunday School at Third Presbyterian Church. She would tell us that her neighbors on one side were Catholics, the Carrols, and on the other were Orthodox Jews, the Cohens. I have not vetted my mother’s recollections for accuracy, but her point was about getting along with others who aren’t like you.
And she made friends with African Americans, or as she respectfully called them “Colored People”. It wasn’t hard, we found, when we went about making friends. Our high school integrated in the Sixties and we made friends with the African-American kids. She and my father welcomed them into our home. In a way, it wasn’t a big deal. In another way, these simple acts of friendship and hospitality were revolutionary.
So the family is getting together to celebrate The Fourth and to remember Marian Maude ( cool name, huh?) on her birthday.
Between now and 1:00 PM, I hope to get in some more sleep. My surviving siblings (sister, younger brother) will be at the party. (My elder brother died in 2014). My sons, daughter-in-law, nephews, niece, her husband and great niece will be there too.
There will be food, general cuteness from my great niece, age 3, and fun.