June 13, 2010
Today is Aunt Retta's birthday. Aunt Retta is Beth's great aunt on her mother's side. Officially, she is Sister Miriam Thomas since she entered the Sister's of Charity order back in the 1930s. Today she turned 95 years old. She is one of the sweetest people you would ever want to meet, and I am not just saying that because she has been known to say I am one of the most handsome men she has ever met. By the way, you know it is forbidden for a nun to lie, right? She says her father and me are the two most handsome men. I do realize that Aunt Retta falls right in line with my normal demographic-older women and very little girls. Please do not stray into the gutter, these are the age demographics of females who find me good-looking. For the record, pregnant African American women have been known to want some of this, but that is another story for another time.
So Aunt Retta was telling stories today, and my favorite reflects not only how long she has been on this earth, but how times have changed. She told us how cars had just come into being and some of the wealthier city-folk were replacing their horse and buggy transportation with motor cars. She and a friend thought that this was strange and used to go out to the street and yell things at these people when they would drive by. She and her friend would yell, "Get a horse!" Can you believe it? The trash talk? Do you think she had to confess this sin before she entered the convent? Whew, times have changed.
Several sisters kept stopping by to to say Happy Birthday to Sister Mariam/Aunt Retta, and it was rather obvious that she was both respected and well-liked. One of the sisters who stopped in was Sister Mary Eunice. She had time for a couple stories and was quite entertaining. She explained that her name meant bitter victory. She had looked it up, probably in her I-Phone, and found that Mary means bitter and Eunice means victory. Beth's given name is Mary Elizabeth which is the same as her mom's (no really...Mary Elizabeth, Jr.), and she was aware that Mary meant bitter or contrary. Sister Mary Eunice went on the explain that her name came from the anxiety she had over her calling. Her mother had informed her that she had given her up to God at the age of 3 months. Sister wasn't real excited at this prospect as a little girl. So she went into a closet of their house in which she knew her father had just installed a new light bulb. I don't think it was one of those energy efficient ones as Sister Mary Eunice is about 80 years old. Anyway, when she got into the closet, she closed the door and told herself that if she pulled the chain on the light and it did not turn on, she would carry out her mother's will. Of course, she pulled, the light did not go on. She looked at the Heavens and said, "just kidding."
Eventually, when she was 16, she consulted a priest who said that she only needed to have three qualities to enter the convent. First, she had to go through life avoiding mortal sin. Check. Second, she had to be good at doing what she was told. Check. And finally, she had to be a good eater. Apparently, Sister was a little heavy as a teen, so she qualified again. She went directly across the street to the convent and rang the bell. The rest is history.
Now when my family and I used to belong to a local Catholic Church, they used to have open houses for young women of the parish who were interested in joining the order. I always wondered why they offered pizza as part of the gathering, but I guess now I know.
We had a tremendous time and look forward to seeing Aunt Retta for her 96th birthday.
Congrats to Team USA for their tie with England in the World Cup yesterday. Lucky goal, but in the end all that matters is the score. A victory over Slovenia on Friday would put them in good shape for reaching round two.
Today is the last day of my vacation. Sniff. I must go and console myself.