Sep 26, 2013


My sister gave this to me a while ago to remind me of my years as a Catholic school kid. I don't ever remember a nun giving me the "thumbs up" sign. Typically they gave me the index finger pointing toward the Principal's office sign. I was a great kid. Apparently, I didn't live up to the high standards set by my two older sisters who were 4 and 5 years ahead of me in school. They were practically from another generation! I also didn't live up to the standards imposed by every nun who crossed my path as my teacher. There were many. Sr. Palmyra was my first teacher in elementary school. She was as tall as me in second grade. They made them smaller and mightier way back then. Sr. Palmyra liked my mother. She liked my two older sisters. She prayed for my father. He wasn't really Catholic. She tolerated me. She pinched my cheeks a lot. And I don't think it was because she thought I was cute.

 When I think of her I think of the times tables. We were required to learn them in her class and recite them every week. I was on a roll until we got to the 12 x ? = ?. To this day I have trouble remembering anything past 12 x 2 = 24. I'm lost after that. Seriously lost! I have managed to get by though with the help of a calculator. They weren't invented yet when I was a student. My time in Sr. Palmyra's class reminds me of numbers.

Sr. Pam taught us for a little while. She was the principal of the school and was also a pinch hitter when a teacher was absent and somebodies mother or the janitor couldn't come in and take over. Seriously. We had some doozy "teachers" who I think weren't quite qualified to teach but were available for the right price. In other words they needed to fill their pledge of a million volunteer hours. Some parents volunteered for hot dog day and cupcake day. Others helped in the health office. The brave few volunteered to come in when a teacher was absent and sit at their desk staring at the clock on the wall while the class ran wild. This happened to our class in 6th grade. Our teacher died soon after school began for the year. I think she can be found in the Guinness Book of Records for being the oldest teacher ever to have taught. She told us on the first day of school she was older than God and we shouldn't give her any trouble because she was bound to meet her maker soon and would tell Him all about us if we misbehaved. I believed her. I didn't want those pearly gates shutting on me if I happened to follow soon after so I tried my best to be a model student. Just my month into the school year she died. Her successor was none other than the daughter- in-law of my 4th grade teacher. She was a newlywed and needed money to buy a house. We were the answer to her prayers. She was very sweet. I also thought she was very pretty. She didn't last long. Sr. Pam came to the rescue and cracked the proverbial whip and we were back in business after two months of coloring pictures of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and all the Saints every single day and reciting the Lord's Prayer over and over while coloring. Seriously. I think of the waxy scent of a box of 64 Crayola crayons when I think of 6th grade. 

In high school I had lots of nuns teaching me. It was nun nirvana. At least for them. They all lived together on campus and taught all of the girls who were lucky enough to make it into the prestigious college prep school in our community. I was one of the lucky ones. They didn't ask me what 12 x anything was on the entrance exam so I was golden.  My oldest sister attended the school before me. She was a model student. I may have been or not have been the same. Think the latter if you must. I won't blame you. You may be right! I wasn't necessarily anything like my sister other than sharing the same last name and similar looks. She was quite shy. I was not. She was very studious and conscientious. I was not. I didn't really have to study to do well. It just came to me. I got by on that alone. There was a nun with my namesake who took a liking to me. She was my saving grace in high school. Whenever I saw Sr. Rosemary with her warm hugs and bright smile I knew everything would be alright. She had a way of making you feel like you were just fine the way your were. Whenever I think of high school I think of her. She was the epitome of loving someone unconditionally. 

In college I had a nun as a resident advisor in our apartment building on campus but not as a teacher. I also lived with an ex-nun my first year away at school. She was never home though. She was living with her boyfriend. She was also 36 years old. I was 19. We didn't have much in common. Seriously. My next roommate thought she had a calling to be a nun until she met a boy. Then all bets were off. They married and live happily somewhere in this great big world. I had lots of priests as teachers in college. They were just fine. They must not have read my cumulative file from high school and elementary school saying I was quite possibly the devil's spawn or close to it. I met my husband my second semester of college. He told me once he thought he had a calling to be a priest when he was a boy. I asked him why. He said he visited a seminary while in elementary school and was impressed that the priests ate roast beef every Sunday for dinner and had a delicious array of food made for them each day by the parish housekeeper. He thought that lifestyle would be heaven on earth for him. He loves food. He also liked the ladies. He had to choose. He chose me. I knew how to cook. I wasn't a parish housekeeper, and he didn't become a priest so...we got married. When I think of my college years I think of everything that led me to my husband. My favorite memory of all. Seriously. There's "nun" better than him. 


Mary Kay said...

When I think of high school I think of nail polish on my tongue. I can't imagine why...!

Katie Clooney said...

Love this post. The little nun is adorable. I went to Catholic school all my life. How have you been? Hope you post soon. Miss your humor.

Romi said...

Mary Kay...I plead the fifth.