Hungover Like Christ on the Cross
When I started posting on Face Book for the newly formed walking tours I normally posted about stuff happening in town. However, much to my surprise, it was occasional posts about my parents that always garnered the most hits. Particularly the image of my father dressed as nun when he hosted comedy roasts in Hershey area churches back in the 1970’s. Here my father was introduced as the visiting Sr. Virginia, “Virgin for short but never for long.”
While recovering from surgery I used the bed bound time to go through a box of miscellaneous papers that led me down the rabbit hole of my father’s psyche for three decades.
First up were three love letters written in 1950 from my father to mother prior to their marriage. Well, not exactly “love” letters in the typical sense. The first had a list of her favorite quotes like “The other girls were done eating and I could have eaten the whole meal all over again.” Then came a list of her favorite activities (#1 eating). It ended with a PS from him proposing to her.
Another “love” letter was after my mother apparently had a bad day at the office and was written as an official Memorandum, subject lined “My love for you”. He states “You can leave your job, stop your dieting or do anything you feel is right and I know that we’ll always be able to get along and be very rich in what is important, religion.”
Followed by “You’re doing a bang up job for me, kiddo, and I’m your number one employer.”
His writing skips a few decades until it reaches my old report cards from the church and school of The Holy Name of Jesus (quite a long name, but shorter to write out on papers than being from “Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament”. I’m a middle aged man now and still don’t know who that lady even is.) For some reason my Dad always signed my report cards. He enjoyed clever quips for the nuns that made my life hell so in response to my good grades he would write to the brides of Christ: “You know I have a lot of these (I think he meant kids, not report cards) so are you sure this is one of mine?” or “What more can I ask of St. Joseph?”
Next came a letter written in 1980 from my father to a long time pal. Thirty years after writing it the pal’s son, who is my pal, found it at his parents’ house and sent it on to me.
My father describes the Irish band that played the night before at The Holy Name of Jesus (HNJ for those in the know) while my mother got “soused” causing her to miss six AM mass because she was “Hung-over and sprawled across the bed like Christ on the cross”.
I’m going out on a limb here, but somehow I don’t think that was exactly what my father had in mind 30 years prior when he wrote about how they would be rich in religion!