Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness, But Godliness Is Next To Grandma


DocImage000000488DocImage000000492I was a kid with a big imagination, growing up in the 5o’s, a much more formal time, when kids were  expected to behave with a certain degree of seriousness and solemnity, way beyond the limited capability of their years. In particular places this mandatory decorum was rigidly enforced— the doctor’s waiting room (so adults could hear the conversation between the doctor and the person in the office with him better,) in old ladys’ parlours (so they wouldn’t miss any of the whispered gossip,) but most especially when they were in church. The reason for this I could never understand because I already knew that God could hear everyone at the same time, and besides, if he was talking to anybody there, I didn’t think it was supposed to be out loud. He could do it under his breath, but in a way that they would hear it in their hearts. I don’t think he had ever talked to me like that yet, but then I didn’t think that he would, until a person was there often enough to deserve it. When Grandma Mum came for a visit and went with us to church, or if we ever went with her to church in Pittsburgh where she lived, he might have noticed that she had a couple of kids sitting next to her. Likely then he came pretty close to introducing himself, just on account of the fact that he knew her so well. I think she talked to him every day and said special grown up prayers every night. Some of them Marsha and I had already started learning for our First Holy Communion. Still, it would have been nice if I had just heard him talking under his breath to me then. I think I would have tried a whole lot harder to listen.

The Bird In Church 

The man behind her sneezed and all the feathers of her hat

Trembled like a living bird—Now just imagine that!

The man behind her sneezed again, and sneezed ’til he was blue;

The feathered thing, alarmed by this, just spread its wings and flew!

Yet no one seemed to notice as it roosted on a rafter!

They just turned round indignantly when I broke out in laughter,

For church was not the proper place for anyone to giggle,

And people thought it impolite to scratch or even wiggle.

But I just couldn’t hold it back; the sight was so absurd,

To see a hat transformed that way, into a living bird!

Quite suddenly I found myself no longer in my seat,

But being dragged by mummy, who was redder than a beet,

Down the aisle and out the door, where I received a whack!

To find that bird— a hat once more the moment I got back!

I really will try to behave myself; I have so much to lose!

But under the pew ahead of me— are those alligator shoes?

My husband Rolly read the poem above and asked “Did you really see a bird in church?” Maybe yes, maybe no. Was I spanked? I’ll leave that up to your imagination.

About Yvonne's Musings

Being the second of eight kids born in 11 years to my busy parents ultimately was a real advantage to me. I learned very early that if you wanted to be heard amidst all the noise the best way to accomplish it was to write your thoughts down. My first post to my mother," i hate skool. i cried at skool tooday!" was stuck with ABC chewing gum to the lid of the diaper pail, where I was certain that she would find it. Her attention quickly elicited in me a love of writing that has been life long. Seeking a wider audience I have decided to now, decades later, blog. Happy reading Mom! This is for you!

One response »

  1. I definitely enjoyed your poem and memories of church. My brother and I used to have elbow wars while we knelt and prayed. We each thought the other was crossing an invisible line onto the other’s side. Mom and baby Susan ended up moving between us. Should have been there to start with. It’s funny you mention first communion, I just posted a story about my days studying at church school for first communion. If you are interested, you can read Nun Cake, found at 1950 Suburban Adventures.

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