Mum was a devout catholic. I don’t mean that in a Nun like way. She was full of fun and I can see why she fell for Dad straight away. He was mischief.
He wasn’t trouble in a ‘pick a fight’ way. Just good ole fashioned fun usually. Happily pushing boundaries, he didn’t mind a trick or two. There are many stories that I remember being told, which may have been embellished…like the night they went to a dance in the local hall. Dad and another were asked to leave for being larrikins. They went to leave, when Dad had second thoughts. He backed his coupe, ute or Chevy truck…I can’t remember what now, but I know a sibling will correct me, up to the couple of stairs at the front of the building, threw a rope around them and pulled them out. Then parked in the shadows, sat back and watched with glee as couples came out arm in arm only to fall into the cold wet mud below. He told this story with such enthusiasm I could have heard it a hundred times, and even knowing the punch line never stopped loving it.
Anyway this story is about Mum. Just like she loved each one of us completely and unconditionally, so she loved God. I should have asked her if she hated God for a time after Dad died in a car accident. She missed him so much for the next 38 years and talked about dancing in the streets with him as she slipped away into the next world.
Once when I questioned Gods existence, she reeled back as if I had hit her. She was struck dumb for a minute. Lindy stepped forward and said something and smoothed all the rough edges as she was good at doing. We moved on and I never bought it up again. Even then she still loved me.
I’m thinking about Mum and God because right outside, across the road from Tanja’s is a huge Catholic Church. I always notice Catholic Churches because as kids we wouldn’t miss mass, no matter where we were. We would go to any old Catholic church anywhere. On Mums travels she talked about the churches in every country. I imagine she would greet the priest after mass as he stood outside and enjoy telling him where they were from.
When Gilbert and I went to China I noticed a huge and beautiful church not far from our hotel and and I made sure to get up early enough to attend Sunday Mass for the experience. I think Damen and Tara came with me. Mum loved hearing all about what Chinese mass sounded like. In case you don’t know, it is strangely the same but different. Chinese language interspersed with Latin phrases, it had the same familiar nuances, tones and sing songy flow. I knew where we were up to every step of the way, despite not having been to church for years.
Well here, across the road it is huge, and every hour a bell tolls the hour. Today the bells went into overdrive and I realised it was Sunday. It felt like the bells were calling me, so tonight I wandered in. They had just finished service. I genuflected, made the sign of the cross and slipped into a back row.
I knelt down and said a prayer for Mum even tho I’m sure she’s not hanging around in purgatory. I’m pretty sure she will be right up there.