Thursday, October 23, 2014

Two Fathers, Two Little Boys

Two incidents have remained in my mind for years.  I'll take the later one, which happened when I was in my early twenties, first.
I saw a little boy, who couldn't have been more than six [if he was that old], walking with his father. The child looked up and said, "I love you, Daddy."
But did his father hug him the way a normal father would?
No.
He shook his finger in the boy's face and said in a tough, hard, completely unfatherly voice, "MEN don't say I love you to other MEN!"
I felt so bad... so sorry... for both of them.  And I remember thinking, "I hope I never marry a man like that."

Now for the earlier incident.. which is a good memory. I was only a little girl, not even eight years old but I've never forgotten.
I was sitting on a bench on Ocean Parkway with my Baba and her sister, my Aunt Lily.  On the bench across from ours sat a little boy and his father.  They were looking at a picture book.
And then the father said, "Let's go home now and fix dinner and surprise Mommy when she gets home from her club meeting."
I hope that boy grew up to be like his father.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mary Never REALLY Suffered

Did that heading grab your attention?  Did it shock you?


Years ago... not long after I'd become a Catholic, a woman said to me, "They shouldn't call Mary Queen of Martyrs, because she never really suffered."
"Oh?" I responded.  "Well, you just close your eyes and imagine yourself watching [I said her son's name] die the way Mary watched Jesus die... and then tell me Mary never suffered!"

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Piece of Writing I've Loved For Years

I've loved the following essay since I came across a condensed version of it over thirty years ago.

"A person can never get true greatness by trying for it. You get it when you're not looking for it. 
It's nice to have good clothes—it makes it a lot easier to act decent—but it is a sign of true greatness to act when
 you haven't got them just as good as if you had. One time when Ma was a little girl they had a bird at their house, 
called Bill, that broke his leg. They thought they would have to kill him, but next morning they found him
 propped up sort of sideways on his good leg, singing! That was true greatness. 
One time there was a woman that had done a big washing and hung it on the line. 
The line broke and let it all down in the mud, but she didn't say a word, only did it over again; 
and this time she spread it on the grass, where it couldn't fall. But that night a dog with dirty feet ran 
over it. When she saw what was done, she sat down and didn't cry a bit. All she said was: 'Ain't it queer that he didn't miss nothing!' 
That was true greatness, but it's only people who have done washings that know it! Once there was a woman that lived near a pig-pen, 
and when the wind blew that way it was very smelly, indeed; and at first when she went there to live she couldn't smell anything but 
straight pig, but when she lived there a while she learned to smell the clover blossoms through it. That was true greatness."

This gem has been attributed to several different people, two of whom are not named.
Nellie L. McClung presents it as a composition written by a little girl named Pearl, a character in her novel "The Second Chance."
Several people have given credit for it to an English girl from an underprivileged home. H. Allen Smith, on the other hand, wrote in his collection of children's writings, "Don't Get Perconel With A Chicken," [which is where  I first read the essay]:

I have saved one of the finest items for the end of 
this little book. It is a little essay written by a twelve- 
year-old girl in Perry County, Alabama. Helen Essary 
came into possession of it about twenty years ago, 
checked it for its authenticity, and then sent it to the 
Reader's Digest and they checked it, so it must be 
genuine. It was published in 1939

 I wonder who the real author is.  Did Nellie L. McClung write it, or did she use it by permission of the the actual writer?  (I haven't found any acknowledgements, so I'm inclined to think that she did write it.  But... did she write it as an adult, or did she incorporate a piece of writing from her childhood into the novel?
 In either case, I'm glad... I'm thankful that this essay was written and published, and that I've had the joy of reading it.