I think it was over 2 years ago now, that we started to go to First Fridays together, Mom had always enjoyed this, and after she moved in with my sister, she expressed a wish to continue. I, being the dutiful son, and secondly realizing that my life could use more church in it, agreed to try and take her each month (It actually needs a lot more church in it, but I committed to just one extra visit each month, what a slacker. ) We started going to the early service at St. Mary's and we did enjoy our time there.
|The view from the Sand Bar in Cdga, at the Inn on the Lake.|
One definition of girl, is "a young woman from birth to adulthood", but that's not the definition I am using in this instance, I'm using one that states "A woman socializing in a group of women, like a night out with the girls" These ladies spend a lot of time socializing with each other, and they each bring a little something different to the party, let me set the scene for you first.
My favorite resident, yeah I'll play favorites here too, sits just off to the left of us each time, and I'll call her, M. She is small, a little hunched, has a quiet raspy voice and walks with a walker. She always has the daily paper stuffed into a pocket on the front of it, and I suspect she has some memory issues too. I actually don't have to suspect because each time we come, she'll lean over and do one of two things, sing Take Me out to the Ballgame, or recite a poem/rhyme she knew as a kid. She never fails to do one or the other, sometimes both, and I love it each time. She grew up in Rochester, and her father was a butcher, so her poem goes like this....
My Father was a butcher,
My Mother cuts my meat,
and I'm the little Weiner,
who runs around the street.
She says it the same way each time, and it is precious. She takes about 10 breaths to get it all out, and she speaks barely above a whisper, but she gets it out each time with perfect delivery. Because she has some breathing troubles I cringe on the days she starts with "Take Me Out to the Ball Game", but she not only gets through it, she even adds a Cha Cha Cha to the end of some verses and throws in a hip wiggle while she does it. Is it any wonder that she is my favorite with showmanship like that?
Further down from M, sits B. B is very quiet, and in fact is so quiet, most masses she nod off for a portion of the service. That is pretty impressive considering mass is barely 40 minutes long at the home. It's amazing how much time you save when you eliminate all the standing up, sitting and kneeling. B should be my favorite, because I've been know to get sleepy at mass too, but she just can't compare to M's showmanship, plus she's a few chairs away which makes it a lot harder to have conversations. With varying degrees of hearing loss, and the soft spoken nature of some older folks, there tends to be a lot of repeating of things around the room. It gets pretty comical, hearing the comment of the day, repeated in the different corners of the room, so everyone can keep up on the conversation. It's even funnier when they mis-hear it, and I can see the confused faces on one side of the room wondering how to follow a conversation that is so non sequitur. I shouldn't laugh so much at church, and yet I do.
K sits across the room from us, but her hearing is good and she is a visitor each month, like we are. She drives in from Victor and with a group of ladies sometimes. She lost a friend that used to come with her last year, and even though she was older it was unexpected. She was at mass one month and not the next. She was planning a trip with her daughter, so she readied her house, packed her bags and set them by the door, she went to bed, and passed away in the night.
|Dining room in back, Can you pick out G?|
There are a handful of other ladies that comprise my group of Girls, but they all haven't made the impression on me that these ones have. A lot of it has to do with seating arrangements. I look forward to learning more about them though, on my future visits for masses there. I wondered why Mom wanted to go to First Friday Mass so much, so I asked her one day, and she told me that you receive special graces if you go. I later learned from my sister that you have to go 9 consecutive times in order for the graces to be guaranteed. There are 12 of them in all, but the last one seems to be the best one, it reads....
I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence: they will not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their Sacraments. My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.
I'm no theologian, that's my brother Socrates, but the way I read it, make mass 9 times in a row on a First Friday and you get a free pass into Heaven? Maybe there is hope for me yet, in spite of my wayward friends.