Lots of people say Grammy (my mom) is like Mary Poppins, or Auntie Mame, but to her daughters she is more like the guy running the roller coaster ride at the park who loves to say “Buckle up!” and watch as your face takes on a look that lands somewhere between terror and excitement, with a hint of disbelief.
Some of our favorite Grammy stories include the time she drove off in an expensive car as the owner of said-vehicle was being toted off to prison (he asked her to take care of the car.) Just one of her claims to fame was as a telephone operator in the Washington DC area in her early twenties, patching through a phone call for Marilyn Monroe. But the best stories are the many that make her end in tears of laughter as she acts out some crazy physical comedy that would have been a very long-running television series, had anyone bothered to write it all down. She fears nothing as she coasts down hills into gas stations on fumes, car in neutral, yelling “Weeeee!” She carries around cookies on her shoulders when her hands are full of tea cups (because isn’t that what shoulders are for? And who wants to make TWO trips to the kitchen and back? That’s BORING!) She loves to laugh and talk and talk and talk.
Today is Grammy’s birthday, and no doubt God aligned for her to be born on a Marian Feast Day, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The story goes that Our Lady appeared to my Nana in her anguish at having another pregnancy late in life with her oldest daughter near 20 years of age, and 8 more kids after that. She assured my Nana that this child–her tenth–would be the one holding her hand when she died. Our Lady promised to give my Nana the graces she needed to have this last child. As a sign of her faith, she asked my Nana to dress my mom in blue in devotion to her (Our Lady) for the first 8 years of her life. And so it went that my mom (Grammy) donned blue dresses most of her early life, celebrated her ninth birthday with the gift of a RED dress, and continues to have a devotion to the Mother of Jesus. But don’t let this pius picture throw you off. There is no one in the world who loves to spin a wild tale, exaggerate a story, weave a fable or animate a situation like my mom. If you can’t see the scenery in her story, smell the smells, and hear the sounds, she certainly wouldn’t feel she had done you justice as a storyteller. I sometimes wondered if my family kissed the Blarney Stone (not too far from where our Irish roots originate) it could help reverse our talkative gene and actually help us get to the point a little faster, but I don’t think it works that way. Besides, it would be no where near as fun.
Those of you who know my mom are probably already smiling and laughing as you read this because of something she did in the past to make you crack up. Your time with her begins with a cup of tea (milk and sugar) and cookies. About two hours and two more cups of tea later you are on some crazy sugary-caffeinated summit of a story that is absolutely outrageous, perhaps only a percentage true, and shaking your head in disbelief (not at the facts) but at having been entertained as such, without even purchasing a ticket. Don’t people normally pay to laugh this hard?
Tomorrow we begin the novena for the intercession of St Anne (Mother of Mary, Grammy to Jesus). Every year I take petitions as my annual offering to those who are hoping for a good Christian roommate, friend, or soul mate for your children or yourself. Maybe you or someone you love needs a good friend or a match made in Heaven? In honor of Grammies everywhere, I salute my mom today on her birthday, and tomorrow we begin nine days of asking Jesus’ Grammy to pray for all of us. We ask her to pray to have her grandson’s help at the heart of all of the relationships in our lives. Please join the prayer and petitions by following Domestic Church of Bosco on Facebook for the prayers, and listing your intentions below (or FB) in the comments if you have a special “match” to be made for someone you know!