Mrs. Mc C
Thursday, June 23, 2016 - Edith Boyd

In my zeal to continue my new vocation, I have tried to pound a time in my childhood into fictional form.       

I've failed.

I'm eager to share a time in my life I had with a wonderful woman, Mrs. Mc C. Being the youngest of seven, I experienced countless people with whom I interacted. My maternal grandparents lived up the street and my mother was one of seven children.

We lived in Philadelphia, in a lovely neighborhood, surrounded by small shops, plentiful maples, and great people.

Mrs. Mc C was one of them.            

Our initial meeting was memorable. My cousin Kathy was celebrating her fifth birthday. She lived down the street and my older sisters walked me to the party. I was clinging to my fourth year by a few months.   

Already anxious being away from my family, I tried to fit in to the joyous event; Kathy's many siblings running in and out of doors, peeking at her presents, and squealing with delight.         

Delight was not the feeling I had.          

I missed my mother. Although well-seasoned to joyous outbursts in my own home, I was stricken by shyness and fear at my cousin's party.

Even at that age, I knew cool kids didn't cry for their Mommas.

My restraint gave way when a boisterous woman entered the room hugged my aunt, congratulated my cousin, and spoke louder and more forcefully than I was used to.

My restraint crumbled. I started to cry.

My oldest sisters, identical twins, were summoned to take me back home.

Fond of singing in unison, that particular day's duet was "Every Party Has a Pooper." My husband still breaks into that song when I want to leave a party early.

It was in later years that I got to know Mrs. Mc C. She drove her nine children around in her Country Squire station wagon and let me come aboard for basketball games, my brother Patrick's football games, and events at the church during the evening.

My parents didn't own a car. Both were fond of saying, "We could never educate you kids with a car payment." City life was generous to it's inhabitants. There were many options - trains, trolley cars and buses.

However, even in the early sixties most families had at least one car. It was the time when the women were starting to get cars too, strange as that must sound to young ears. Mrs. Mc C was generous in including me. Her daughter was a classmate of mine and shared her mother's generous spirit.

If my brother had an away game I was welcomed in the back-back of her station wagon. Church dance in the evening - no problem.

They even took me to a Phillies game. The family was quite prosperous. The Mr. worked in a Philly law firm, and the family belonged to an exclusive country club. I remember losing my interest in swimming at the club when I learned I could get a hamburger, just by signing my name.

I've recently had the guilty recollection that some of my treats were purchased with money I stole from our boarder's change jar.

My parents set aside one bedroom for a boarder to help with expenses. In fact, both my given name and nickname came from a long-term boarder, Edith a.k.a. DeeDee. My parents grew to love her, and when she relocated to Atlantic City we took many bus trips to see her, and met her at the train the day before Christmas Eve.

Big Dee Dee could barely hold all the presents she carried for us kids.

We loved getting those gifts until the teen-years when we didn't like the styles she chose. I hope we didn't show it. I think my parents and the nuns had us sufficiently trained to stifle any surly looks.

Some of the Mc C children were in my sibs' classes which helped my hooking up with my favorite chauffeur.

I have a clear memory of fretting aloud about a test I had taken, fearing I hadn't excelled. "Dee Dee, See the lilies of the field...see how they grow....even Solomon in all his glory."(1) A booming voice from the driver's seat urged me to have faith and stop worrying.

A woman with the responsibility of rearing nine children took the time to get to know me, to soothe my fears, and proclaim her faith naturally and sincerely.

There were other verses she would sing out often appearing to take her corners on two wheels, her unkempt hair blowing in the wind. Our time together was before the age of seat belts and I remember the clatter of football gear as her sons bounced off one another en route to a game.

"This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it."(2) If she heard one of her kids complaining she treated us to that Psalm.

Her appearance and demeanor at the country club stood out as well. I remember her peers in matching tennis whites, stylish page boy hair-cuts, and discreet gold jewelry. She often looked like one of her sons after a football game, disheveled, red-faced after a round of tennis, calling to friends across the Olympic-sized pool.

Am I imagining that her children felt no embarrassment of  her? Shouting to this one, diving into the pool when few ladies did? I don't think so. I think they cherished her.

I cringe at the memory of how embarrassed I was by my mother, a decade older than the mothers of my friends, born in Ireland, her speech reflecting that difference.

Mother forgives me. She always did. I sense her presence when I need her most, her physical form parting from us in 2008.

Which brings me to the theme of faith. When my uncle eulogized my father, he spoke of how my father's life was an expression of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. How faith produces affection.

Although I have veered from agnosticism to faith, often decades at a time, I'm currently enjoying a return to the faith of my youth.

I'm finding affection in faith, like the woman in the deli who says, "The Lord didn't make me in a hurry, and He's telling me not to hurry," Her smile as big as her heart. I'm finding it in St. Patrick's church, which I recently joined - the first church I joined in my adult life.

When the priest encourages us to give one another the sign of peace, I rejoice.

Will I ever be as relaxed as the lilies in the field?

Doubtful.

But I had a good teacher.

Vaya con Dios, Mrs. Mc C.

(1) Matthew 6:28 (2) Psalm 118:24

Published By: Thought Collection Publishing

 

Edith Gallagher Boyd is a writer. Her work has been published in Potluck Magazine, The Furious Gazelle, and Phoenix Photo & Fiction. Her work will appear in No Extra Words. She is a graduate of Temple University, a former French language teacher, and an avid sports fan. She lives in Jupiter, Florida.

          

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