Posted tagged ‘scary nuns’

“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”

February 22, 2016

I saw them this morning right beside the front steps. My snowdrops, the first real stirrings of spring, have bloomed. Those tiny white flowers have endured snow, below zero temperatures and freezing rain. They are my heroes of spring flowers. They bring hope and joy. Seeing them made me almost giddy. Today is a good day.

The sun is bright but the chilly breeze makes it sweatshirt cold. I have a few stops including the hardware store, not often on my list, and Agway for cat food and litter, two boring places for shopping. I just can’t get excited about nails or screws or wire. As for Agway, they have flowers come spring which redeem the other parts of the store, the boring parts.

I always used to wonder what was under the headpieces the nuns wore. I thought nuns were bald until once I saw a tiny bit of hair from under a coif. I never understood why their outfits were called habits and why most of their habits were black and white, even their thick stockings were black. When my aunt the nun didn’t have to wear a habit any more, she dressed in normal clothes. She also had the worst taste in clothing. I suspect it was because of decades of wearing her habit and not having to choose what to wear or how to accessorize.

Nuns in habits were a bit scary looking when I was young. Most weren’t mean but the habits made them look as if they had the ability to be. A glaring, burning look was all a nun needed for discipline. It wasn’t until I was in the eighth grade that I heard one yell. She was Sister Hildegarde, a legend among us. Even now we all still remember Sister Hildegarde and each of us has a favorite story. I liked her because she was oblivious. I left school during the day, but I always asked permission. She always gave it and never once asked a question about where I was going. I’d just tell her I had to leave but I’d be back. I’d wander around the square, go to the library or have a picnic near the benches at the town hall. I’d mosey back to school after an hour or more of freedom. She’d nod at me to acknowledge my return when I came in and sat down. Usually my friend Jimmy was with me. He took the same delight I did in skirting the line. Nobody else ever came with us. I don’t think they had the same sense of adventure we did or maybe they were just a bit scared. We did it for the fun of it.

“Then Sister Aquinata abandoned the nonviolent methods and produced a rolling pin from somewhere.”

August 23, 2014

The house is so cold I was surprised when I went to get the papers at how warm it is outside. This is so not the usual August. I should be complaining about the heat and saying to strangers as we stand in lines together, “I can’t take this humidity.”

I do the Globe crossword puzzle every day. Often there is a clue asking Bert’s twin. I know the answer is Nan because I used to read The Bobbsey Twins. I figure others know the answer because of context or familiarity with the clue. What I wonder is why The Bobbsey Twins. It isn’t as if they’re widely read. I took one off my shelf not long ago and read a few chapters. It was a book I had received as a birthday gift when I was nine. There is an inscription from my Grandmother. The book was so dated it was funny but not in a kind way. I really enjoyed that series.

My mother always told me I was the smartest little kid. She might have told my siblings the same thing, but I’m going with she didn’t for ego’s sake. She told me I used to sit on her lap while she read to me usually from a Golden Book. When I was two, I could name every animal on the back in Spanish. Okay, not in Spanish. I just threw that in to shock you, but I did know the names of all the animals in English. My mother thought that was quite an achievement for a two-year old. It even made my baby book of milestones.

Because I was the oldest, my life was chronicled. My biographers will have a field day with such information as my first word, mama, my success at potty training and my speaking in sentences before I was even two. I walked at nine months. My mother was quite faithful in filling in my baby book. My siblings weren’t so lucky. My brother had several entries, being child number two, but by child number four there was only an envelope with a few jottings on it. Her first word is forever lost.

I was trying to remember my first day of school but I don’t. I do remember going to the nursery school across the street from where we lived in South Boston. I remember because of the trauma. I cried the whole time and had to be dragged across the street the second day. My mother then wisely decided I didn’t need to go to nursery school so the planets realigned and life returned to normal.

I think I must have been fine for elementary school, and I figure my mother walked me to school that first day. It was an easy walk in almost a straight line so even without her I never feared getting lost. I did fear the nuns. They were different and in those habits they seemed barely human because all we saw on each of them was a face and hands. That was creepy. They did make noises when they walked because the giant rosary beads around their waists clicked against each other. It was like an early warning system.

The older I got the less I feared nuns. I don’t know exactly when, maybe by third grade, but I know at one point I recognized they were mostly humans in strange garb.