The day the priest came to call

In 1956 or so, our little family moved into a basement apartment in our town. Dad was an auto mechanic who took on whatever overtime hours were available to better support the family. Mom was a homemaker and stay-at-home mom (long before that terms was coined). My brother, sister, and I were preschoolers, ranging in age from 2 to about 5 years old.

Mom usually put us kids outside to play in the yard when she did her household chores—I’m sure it was the only way she could tell she’d made any progress, as a brood of young children can undo a clean house much more quickly than any one person can keep up with. As I recall, the day was sunny and pleasant, and we had plenty of yard toys, tricycles and such, to keep us busy.

We had probably pestered Mom with running in and out and requests for the bathroom, a drink of water, pleas of boredom, etc., because she eventually locked the screen door into the yard to keep us out while she waxed the kitchen floor (remember the days of hands-and-knees floor washing and application of liquid wax—ick!). When we discovered we couldn’t get in, we took to ringing the doorbell and calling our requests through the screen and, I’m sure, ended up making Mom’s work take even longer than if she hadn’t had to deal with constant interruptions. And, naturally, Mom told us to leave the doorbell alone and to just play for a little while until the wax was dry.

Our apartment was in a different parish in the town, and it’s possible Mom and Dad had attended mass at this new-to-them church, but whatever the motivation, the parish priest picked this particular morning to come visit. He greeted each of us children, asking our names and how old we were, about our parents, etc., and then went up to the door to ring the bell. I’m sure Mom thought it was one of us kids AGAIN, because she shouted out “D___ it, you kids, I’m trying to get some work done here!” before coming around the corner to find a priest standing at the door!

And, of course, the floor wax still wasn’t dry so Mom wasn’t able to let the priest into the house. As a result, they had only the briefest of conversations across the span of the kitchen floor. I don’t know whether or not this incident was a deciding factor, but Mom and Dad continued attending church at their old parish even though the new church was much closer. Later the three of us kids even attended the parish school and made our first communions and confirmations at the old church.

So, that’s my story of the day the priest came to call, submitted as one tale in Sian’s Storytelling Sunday. You can find other lots of other stories here.

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10 thoughts on “The day the priest came to call

  1. That is so hysterical! I too grew up Catholic and even though I don’t have a story quite like this, I remember my mom getting so frustrated with the 7 of us that she’d say “da** it to he** you kids, you’re driving me to the “nuthouse!” We didn’t know where that was, but she never went either! Thanks for the memory!

  2. Wonderful story, redolent of a time no longer and beautifully told. 🙂 I remember my Mum telling me how when I was a baby, it was the norm to put the baby outside in a pram whatever the weather for the morning while Mum got on with the cleaning and housework. No wonder I like looking up at the leaves on trees!

  3. Ooops indeed! How embarrassing – no wonder you parents decided to worship where they weren’t known as the cussers who locked children out of the house 😛 The priest was probably fine with it though – I’m sure he saw the funny side.

  4. Excellent story! I think I might have already told a tale about the priest coming to visit. If not I will take inspiration from you and tell it soon.

  5. Oh, Wanda! Your poor mother! I’m sure she remembered this for many many years: the hard work of waxing the floor and keeping her temper and then the embarassing encounter with the priest. It’s a really good story, full of all those little details you do so well, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it today.

    Thanks Wanda

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