Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…
Boy, he is loud. His voice, a deep baritone of strength, bellows over the sea of gray hair surrounding us.
I mouth the words I’ve said three million times while tracing the grooves of polished wood holding my hymnal. That book must weigh at least ten pounds, makes way too loud of a noise when you drop it. My favorite polish, sweetheart pink, is down to small flecks atop my jagged nails, I inspect them as they follow the maze of wood grains in our pew. I have to finish chipping this polish off before school tomorrow, nuns are the only women on earth who do not appreciate a glossy coat of the perfect pink.
Click, click, click, click.
Can my brother ever stay still? If Grandpa wasn’t praying so loud that boy would be in BIG trouble. I don’t know what these heavy clips in the pew are for either. No one else is using them amid the miles of flowered dresses to my left and navy sport coats to my right but I’m WAY too mature to try trapping my sleeve in one when it’s almost time for Communion.
Grandpa would be beaming if he turned to me right now. I have successfully linked my long knobby fingers perfectly together and my clear lip-glossed lips are not missing a single word of the Lord’s Prayer.
My granddaughter-of-the-year stance is certainly trumping every wiggling fidget of my brother.
And forgive us our trespasses…
He really is the loudest person here. I feel my face getting warm as that perfect chestnut french braid turns back from a few rows in front of us. Her nose scrunches and her eyes tell me that my praying family is totally bugging her. My red face burns hotter because now I’m embarrassed for my embarrassment. Even if we are in church I glare my best snotty glare back. She doesn’t go to my school so I am brave.
There is nothing about this booming figure next to me that I am not be proud of. He’s just talking to God, so what if everyone can hear?
Just to show how proud I am I look over at him. He always has that comb, blocking the tracings of a worn wallet barely hiding in his back pocket. I see the black beads threatening to spill from the end of his sleeve, aged fingers swirl them as he prays. A rosary, always within his fingertips.
The emerald of his sweater traces our Irish blood and ends in a “V” at his tie, a perfect triangle held down by that beaming voice. His hair, brilliant silver twisted with white, not a single strand out of place. I watch his bifocals teeter on his kind face, reflecting the mass book he does not even need to glance at.
My mouth is still moving, just in case Grandpa looks my way, but I keep watching, trying to soak up a drop of his faith, his pride.
As I think back to this day and the path my life has taken, I think “lapsed Catholic” may be the term best suited for me. I worry about this and whether my late grandfather would still be as proud of me as that little girl hoped he was that Sunday morning.
Sundays in church or not, I think he would be.
My grandfather and his dignified life of conviction taught me faith, unwavering love for family
and where to find my big, beaming voice when I need it.
This post is part of the Red Dress Club’s memoir meme. It was written in response to the prompt:
Make a list of some of your most vivid childhood (or more recent) memories. Jot down a few memories and then pick one and write it down in as much detail as possible. Investigate what this memory means to you.
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