Ever since my mother passed away, I find it difficult to walk into a card shop to buy cards for Mother's Day. It reminds me of how much I miss Mom. She was a very special woman. Fortunately, she left behind many lovely paintings and a wealth of stories. My sisters and I called the reminisces of our mother's young life the Little Irene Stories. Two years ago, I posted one of her memories on her birthday at http://penelopemarzec.blogspot.com/2013/11/a-story-my-mother-told-me.html
Mom grew up in western Pennsylvania. Her father was a coal miner and she was one of seven children. Today, I thought I post another of her stories, the one she titled "Sandy."
When I was eleven years old, my sister and I started to go to religious classes at St. Mary's so that we could be confirmed. I decided to choose Sandra, or Sandy, as my confirmation name. My sister, Grace, loved the name Allison. Unfortunately, we both had to walk many miles to go to the classes and as a result wore out our shoes. My father put new soles on using rubber tires but even those didn't last. He told us we couldn't go to the classes any longer.
"You're wearing out the shoes," he said.
It was heartbreaking that we could not complete the requirements for confirmation. Nevertheless, I decided to keep my middle name as Sandy. It seemed to fit me somehow, young and full of energy as I was at that time.
I loved the rolling hills of Pennsylvania and our small farming town. To me, it was a magical, exciting place. I learned to save shoe leather by roller-skating or cycling to my friends' homes at neighboring farms.
I used to enjoy visiting one special friend whose mother was a herbalist. The mother would show me different herbs and list the magical powers of each. Since that was more than 60 years ago, she was ahead of her time. She always wore black clothes and a dark babushka (scarf) and could be rather frightening.
She scared me when she began to recite tales of people with horrible ailments that she cured with her herbs. She seemed to relish going into great detail about their illnesses. It alarmed me to listen to her and soon I stopped visiting.
Her daughter, who had porcelain-like skin, went on to become a teacher in the local school.
I played baseball with my brothers, walked in the woods and dreamed of becoming a famous artist.
Later on, after I married, Sandy seemed like a childish name for a woman with a husband and children. Still, I had promised the priest who married my husband and I that I would be confirmed and so when my older children were ready to received the sacrament, I finally made my name Sandra official by being confirmed as well. I did not wear a gown like my daughter with a red beanie for the ceremony. I wore a light blue suit and sat in the back of the church with other adults who were being confirmed. The weather that day held all the blustery misery that March can dish out. It had snowed and then rained, so that we all had to step through nearly a foot of slush as we picked our way through the parking lot to the church.
One of our neighbors was my sponsor. I felt good about finally receiving the sacrament of confirmation, even though I had been married for about fifteen years at that point. Nevertheless, I did keep my promise to the priest.
Even so, I used my given name of Irene, which means peach in Greek. With a growing family, I wasn't the carefree Sandy I had once been.