Sunday, April 25, 2021

Holy Mary, Mother of God...Pray for THIS Mother!

Me (r) and my niece, Savannah, doing a Mary Catherine Gallagher skit 

I will never be ready to have the sex talk with my fifth grader. NEVER. I realize it is important, especially as a female, but, there must be a class for that. My opinion is so different from Kim's, who says we should just explain it as she asks. I don't remember my parents explaining it to me. What I remember is hiding in the back of the library and reading the cartoon book, Where Did I Come From? Those were the days.

The questions always seem to come when I least expect them: in the carpool line, at the grocery store, or when watching a show that I thought for sure was appropriate for an eleven-year-old. The other day on the way to school we were sitting at the red light, Madonna came on XM Radio. Of course, I get excited, crank up the radio, and spill just a drip of my coffee on the console. My curls bop to the thick synthesizer into....left for two, right right for two... and drums... I'm totally in the zone. I made it through the wilderness, somehow I made it through... In my mind I see her cropped jean jacket and black leggings. Then I get pulled out of my daydream from a voice in the backseat.

"Mama, what's a virgin?" 

Noooooooooooo, you're only in the fifth grade, I think to myself. I'm not ready for this. Damn it, Madonna. Maybe I can pretend I was so into the music I didn't hear her. This sometimes used to work when she was little.   

"Mama? What's a VIRGIN?" Senia Mae asks a second time, letting me know I was in no way off the hook with this imperative question. This past Christmas I let her watch my favorite tis the season chick flick, The Holiday, thinking there was nothing inappropriate in there. The dialogue between Jude Law and Cameron Diaz' characters actually mention the word sex frequently, enough for my daughter to ask what sex was. I got away with saying sex was a bunch of kissing and stuff. Now she was four months more mature. I wasn't getting let off the hook easily.

"Well, a virgin is someone who hasn't had sex before." I said the words with lightning speed hoping she didn't catch the content and we could, hopefully, move onto the next topic. Nope.

"Huh?" It was like a grunt from the backseat. She didn't get it, I knew, but this gave me a second to reorganize my thought process. And what was my most natural go to? Without being aware, I went at it Catholic grandma style.

"You know the most famous example of that is the Virgin Mary," I said, unable to believe that these words were flowing from my mouth, but I just couldn't stop. "God loved Mary enough that he chose her to carry his only son, Jesus. She was a virgin, pure and innocent, and Jesus was the miracle baby that happened." I could almost feel my Catholic Grandma smiling down from heaven, nodding her head and realizing that taking me to that Rosary meeting on my tenth birthday actually had been a good idea. Just look at the results.

Silence filled the backseat. I was pretty sure my child had more questions now, but realized that I was going to give her the "Ring Around the Rosy" answer and she should probably ask Momma Kim. But at least it gave me a little more time and isn't that what we all want... just a little more time?

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Random Acts of Kindness... You Never Know Who Needs One

If I had only been thirty seconds faster I would have beat that white BMW to the Dunkin' Donuts drive thru window. This was taking forever, like a full five minutes. What was she ordering, anyway? I wasn't necessarily in a hurry, but was completely starved, feeling like in another minute I could take a bite out of the steering wheel. 

When I finally pulled up to the window, I tried handing the drive-thru attendant my five dollar bill as I grabbed my order with my free hand. The smell of the sugary coffee wafted into my car on this cold, windy day. 

"Oh, the lady in front of you paid for your order," the attendant said, refusing my money. 

"She did?" I said, stunned at the thoughtfulness of a complete stranger. "Paying it forward, eh? I guess I'll get the tab of the person behind me." Just then I glanced over at the bright red digital numbers next to the open window. $16.85? Mine was going to be less than $3.00. I considered changing my mind, then thought better of it and rustled through my wallet for a twenty dollar bill.

The light at the intersection was red and I had my egg and cheese wrap almost devoured when a car pulled up in the lane next to me. I was fiddling with the radio, trying to resume playing the audio book I had been listening to, when out of the corner of my eye I saw the driver to my right waving her arms. When I looked at her, I noticed she looked haggard and exhausted as she rolled down her window to talk to me. I rolled mine down as well, wondering what she could possibly want to talk about at an intersection.

"You are such a wonderful human being. It just means so much to me that you paid for my Dunkin' Donuts order. My dad is having surgery and I am taking this order back to my family as we wait for the outcome." You could see the stress on the woman's face, the fear of the unknown, the doubt, and then the gratitude from such an unexpected gift. "Thank you again, you are such a wonderful and kind person, this really means so much, especially on this day." She let out a sob and blotted her face with a white napkin.

Feeling a little embarrassed, I felt my face reddening and gave the lady a thumbs up. "The person in front of me paid for mine, so I thought I'd keep it going." Just as the light turned green, I had just enough time to say, "I hope your dad's surgery goes well." 

"Thank you again," she said, as tears streamed down her face.

I just couldn't believe that such a small gesture of kindness could effect someone else so profoundly. It just goes to show that you never know what someone else is going through. That measly $16 made this woman's day so much better, and in return it touched my soul, bringing so much joy both of us. I was so glad that I had a change of heart. The experience today made me remember how much power comes with one act of kindness. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could each pass some along to someone in need?