The next morning, Aunt Lucy and I got up early for Church. Uncle Frank promised to come with us another time, but he needed to stay behind to work on an animation sequence for a gum commercial he was trying to sell.
Aunt Lucy reminded him about remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy. Uncle Frank reminded her about remembering the mortgage, and keeping it paid. I told him I liked the sketch that was up in the dance studio, and he told me he would show me some of his computer work after Aunt Lucy and I got home.
St. Ignatius was a much larger church than St. Anne’s in Leifton. Having only Aunt Lucy come with reminded me of going to church with Mama. Daddy didn’t go to church with me and mama very often, only Christmas, Easter, and Mother’s Day.
The sermon was mostly about the fact that All Saints Day was coming up in a couple weeks. We were to keep that in mind with all the hullabaloo of Halloween around every corner and in all the store windows. Mama never liked Halloween. She said it was Satan’s holiday. She called into the school in Leifton every year to protest. She didn’t want me dressing up in some ridiculous getup to go out threatening my neighbors to give me candy.
I was glad I lived on a farm, where the other kids would not bother to come out for trick or treating. When I was in first grade, Mama and I went to Mankato on Halloween to get craft supplies. We made beaded crosses together to hand out on All Saints’ Sunday before church. We left them on the doorsteps the way people used to do in the old days with May baskets. It sounded like a good idea, a chance to do something fun with Mama and help
the Good Lord at the same time. But kids made fun of me at school for it. What was the use of a few useless beads strung together when they all had buckets of candy sitting at home?
There was Sunday School at St. Ignatius too, and Aunt Lucy told me I could start going, once she got me settled into regular school. We stayed after the service to talk to Father Christopher about what we needed to do to get me enrolled.
“Are you a member of St. Ignatius?” Father Christopher asked. Father Christopher did not seem at all like Father Oliver from St. Anne’s. Father Oliver would know instantly if a new lamb were wandering into his flock. Father Oliver was an older, rounder, kind of man – not unlike Uncle Frank.
Father Christopher seemed like he was fresh out of the seminary. He mentioned the basketball game he had played in last Tuesday night with some of the parishioners. Father Christopher led the team in rebounds.
Aunt Lucy admitted she was not a member of the church, but she had been raised catholic. She explained that Mama had been quite a religious person, and had taken me to church regularly. She thought public school would be a shock for me, especially when I had lost my parents the way I did. She told him only that they were taken suddenly and tragically. She did not reveal details.
Father Christopher told her they preferred the families to be members of the church before enrolling at St. Ignatius, but he was sensitive to the situation, and could get the paperwork filled out by tomorrow morning, as
long as Aunt Lucy was willing to attend membership classes. He said he wanted to be sure that St. Ignatius students had strong support of their faith at home, and agreed to accept my enrollment on a trial basis. It would expire at the end of the school year if at least one of my guardian’s had not become a member.
Aunt Lucy agreed that Father Christopher’s request was reasonable and thanked him for his generosity. He gave each of us one of his cards, and told us to feel free to call him if either of us needed grief counseling. I couldn’t help but smile at his acknowledgment of me and I stuffed the card into my pocket.
Aunt Lucy and I went out to the car. “What did you think of St. Ignatius?” she asked.
“It’s big,” I told her.
“I suppose it is,” she said. “Father Christopher seems nice. You start school there tomorrow. You excited?”
“I don’t know,” I said. I was glad it wasn’t a public school, and that it was a school of the Lord-but I was still nervous. It was big and new, and I wouldn’t even be able to stay if Aunt Lucy didn’t come through and take those
classes. She’d have to reform herself.
“How will I get there?” I asked. “Will I take the bus?”
“I’ll take you in the morning,” she said. “And someone you know will pick you up when I have a class or something, either Frank, or Susie, or maybe sometimes Stuart. They’ll stay with you until someone gets home.”
“Stuart?” I said with a wince.
“Jennie, don’t start now. It was a nice service, and we had a nice chat with Father Christopher. Stuart is my friend, and I trust him. I’ve known him a long time.”
“I’m sorry,” I said. “He’s not going to talk to me about his boyfriends is he?”
“I’ll ask him to steal clear of the subject, as long as you don’t scream at him. And as long as you don’t start talking about your boyfriends,” she said.
“I’m not having a boyfriend until I’m married,” I told her.
“Your husband might not like that too well, Jennie,” she told me, and we both laughed when I realized what I had said. The rest of the ride home went fast after that, and before long, we were back at the house. We could smell something wonderful as we walked in the door. Uncle Frank had gone to the grocery store and bought the makings for a beef roast with potatoes and carrots.
“I cook about as often as Lucy goes to church,” he told me. “Well, you better go buy, “The Joy of Cooking” “Aunt Lucy said, “Because I’m going back to school to be a proper Catholic.”
Uncle Frank started chuckling, and had to run to into the kitchen to spit a mouthful of wine into the sink. “I’m sorry,” he said.
“It’s true,” I told him. “Father Christopher says Aunt Lucy has to take membership classes so I can go to school at St. Ignatius. He says you should go too.”
“Maybe sometime,” he told me. “Come on,” he said in a goofy scientist voice. The roast won’t be done until 2:30. I’ll show you my secret laboratory.”
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