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'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
Even at that age, I knew cool kids didn't cry for their
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
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
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
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
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
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?
But I had a good teacher.
Vaya con Dios, Mrs. Mc C.
(1) Matthew 6:28 (2)
By: Thought Collection Publishing