Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Religion: Part Two

This one requires a bit of a back story, here, so bear with me.

When I was 5, my mother's younger sister committed suicide.  That's a story unto itself, which I won't bore you with, but sufficeth to say my mother did not take it well.  No one outside the family knew Mary Jayne killed herself, they told everyone (including me, actually) that she had had an aneurysm.  The hallmark of Lace Curtain Irish is that no one ever knows anything bad about you and yours, your lives are always Perfect to the outside world.  So, keeping this bottled up inside, my mother took out her anger/sorrow on those around her, mainly my sister and me. One of her favorite threats was, "When I drop dead like your Aunt Mary Jayne and your father marries the young sexy blonde, SHE'LL make you clean up your room!"  I remember writing notes to God (asking Him to send Aunt Mary Jayne back so Mommy wouldn't be mean any more)  and leaving them on my nightstand for an angel to take to Heaven.  It didn't work.

Also, I was a difficult child.  I was constantly being compared to my older sister, ("the good one") which made me even more defiant.  I refused to eat (I'm still not a big fan of food),  refused to go to bed on time and constantly talked back to my mother.  My life was kind of like a Eugene O'Neil play, if he had written childen's stories.

Back to Religion.  Remember Sister Mary Elizabeth?  Well, after the you-are-going-to-hell-for-saying-the-Hail-Mary-wrong incident, her very presence in the classroom scared the shit out of me.  But it was one of her Ten Commandment lessons that pushed me over the edge.  She was discussing the "Obey thy mother and thy father" one, which is pretty much the only commandment six-year-olds can relate to.  This is how she condensed it:

"If you talk back to your mother in the morning, when you come home from school, they'll be carrying her out on a stretcher, dead."

Since, to me, this eerily echoed my mother's constant admonition, and, in my mind, that had actually happened with Aunt Mary Jayne, I became terrified to come home from school every day.  It didn't stop me from back-talking my mother, you understand, because I am a Card Carrying, Tried-and-True Smartass, and that ain't never gonna change.  Also, I started having nightmares every night, and woke up at 4:00 a.m. screaming like an Irish Banshee.  My mother would come into my room and ask me what was wrong and I was afraid to tell her.  This went on for about three weeks, with none of us getting any sleep, until one night I finally broke down and told my mother what Sister M.E. had said, expecting my mom to completely jump my ass.

To my amazement she just hugged me.  The next Sunday, she walked in with me to CCH class and in front of anyone read Sister Mary Elilzabeth the riot act, accusing her of scarring and scaring young children, possibly ruining their love of The Church (too late), etc., etc.  When my mother yelled at you, you never, ever forgot it.  If she had been around in the Garden of Evil, she would have had Eve puke up that apple in a heartbeat, kick Adam in the balls and walk off into the sunset with my mother, neither of them ever looking back.

Sister Mary Elizabeth retired from teaching after that year.

Thus endeth today's lesson.

1 comment:

  1. I totally get what you're saying. I am(was, actually) a Muslim, and as a part of my curriculum, I had to study Islamic studies at middle school. I remember my teacher, a scary, bearded man, constantly telling us what hell would be like. He told the class what happens when you tell a lie. He told the class what happens when you do, or even think about "dirty things". It was awful. He gave horrible, obscene and graphic details of the punishments in hell. I was like, 11 or 12 at that time. It was truly traumatic. Im sure its still being done to kids all over the world by either parents, or teachers or others. Thats a tragedy