It wasn’t quite as easy as one might think, especially in this day and age. For one thing, the Mass was said in Latin back then, and a large part of the litany had to be memorized thusly. Another thing was that you were given a weekly schedule to adhere to, and if you turned down assignments you didn’t expect to be around long. You can imagine my surprise when I was given an entire week of serving 6:30 Mass. This, folks, was 6:30 in the AM, which meant I had to get up about 5:30 AM and trudge through the dark winter streets, serve a 45-minute Mass, then get back home for breakfast before heading off to school. Looking back at it, I’m kinda surprised Lioness Mom put up with it, but both her and Dad were pleased, and I never did take my service to the Lord lightly, up to this very day.
One thing I got out of it was a boost in my self-discipline and confidence from the accomplishment. Another thing, I knew it was bringing me closer to the Lord. After all, the tradition was that the altar was still the holy place, and I was standing at it right beside the priest. Plus I was getting to hobnob with all the priests, which I had no reason to think of being anything but a good thing. Maybe my estimation of the Roman Church would nosedive over time, but I still look back at those days and know the Lord appreciated the effort.
Another big event around that time was when my cousin Pam Pilsner came out to visit us. The last time I saw her was as a little kid at a family reunion in Fort Worth at Aunt Marge’s place. She was a big dorky kid who went out of her way to make sure I got my first-ever ride on a real-live horse. I was fond of her sister Becky, but I was not quite her cup of tea. That became quite clear in our mature years when I tried to rekindle our relationship and she blew me off curtly. Pam, however, went through a number of changes in her life much as I did, and during this stage of evolution she came to visit during a break in her stint as an airline stewardess. Let me tell you, she was a blonde goddess in her sky-blue uniform, and Mark and I were completely enchanted. I wrote her a letter and bought a $5 piece of jewelry from a school sale to send with it.
Here again my Mom stepped in with another one of her distracted decisions. She told me I could not send the gift because it would have made ‘them’ think I was looking for one in return. In retrospect, I can see how the whole affair reeked of the ludicrous family protocol that saturated all of our internecine relationships. It served only to foster the hypocrisy that eventually destroyed the network of the entire generation. At any rate, the letter to Pam from her adoring young cousin was never sent.
(To be continued...)