Thursday, May 31, 2012

"Nope. I Can't Be a Nun"...

Well, my mom's slowly losing her memory but...
Art Linkletter's television program years ago was called, "Kids Say the Darndest Things!" but you could easily replace that with, "Octogenarians Say the Darndest Things!" because they do. Now, it is not my style to make fun of anyone especially those from that "greatest generation." Heaven knows that group has been through enough and seen enough to get my respect forever. I only hope to be able to put on a happy face and continue to lust for life like so many of them do.

And, my mom is definitely one of them.

All that being said, mom still has a penchant for twisting reality in her story telling and blurting out one liners that have you guessing whether she still has it or, it has long since gone on the wings of a bird. I've actually started taking notes on her various quips and quotes.

Just the other day, she "entertained" a male nurse who had come by to see how her health was doing. The nurse, who looked to be pushing seventy or so, somehow got talking about the good, old days. He touched on certain topics just to get my mom engaged, but she wasn't playing along until he mentioned to me his television viewing habits and I made the mistake of saying that this time of year, I only watch the weather channel and baseball games. After my momentary cringe, I cringed again when he asked her...

"Mimi, do you enjoy baseball?"

Well, now we are talking. Stories I heard a thousand times over the years and seldom told the same way twice, mom gave him an ear full. Stories about longing to be with the boys playing baseball, cutting her hair short, hiding her hair wrapped under the cap, begging her father and coach, Pops Fortier to allow her to compete with the guys. Stories about bunting with two strikes, tagging out ball players in double plays and hitting home runs just to show the boys she was no slouch.

Oh man, I've heard it all. My whole family was baseball... both sides of the family. My dad could have been a contender had not the war interfered with his game. When he returned from the jungles of the Pacific, we found out he had contracted a bad case of malaria, which effectively put him, as least in his mind, on the pine forever. I was just a little guy when I saw my father shake violently and beg for my covers to keep him warm. It is the only time, I believe, that I ever saw my dad really sick.

Dad rarely spoke about those baseball days though he continued to play amateur ball, company softball and evidently was honored locally, by the Diamond Club, for his thirty-five years of service to the community of baseball, as an umpire. Yeh, dad rarely spoke about those days, but mom did!

Her favorite, of the many tales she wove, was how she was challenged by the nun/coach to win the game with a home run hit. Mom didn't take kindly to people doubting her abilities as a female ball player.

Or as anything else, for that matter.

Well, she took up the challenge that the nun gave her. Like Casey at the Bat, she confidently took one strike, two strikes and then, POW... long fly ball, hit deep, going back, going back... gone!

She never ever mentioned any fence that the ball went clear, clean over, but the story continues. Apparently, the flustered, black cassocked, Catholic coach didn't like this girl's bravado and said that the home run didn't count because she didn't actually see the hit. ( I've often wonder, at this point of the story, just who were they playing and where were the umpires! ) So, like a D.I. in the Marine Corps that lost count of how many push ups a recruit has completed and demands that recruit start over again, this nun, according to the story, demanded she get up and bat again. Sometimes in the story, the pitch count changes, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes, she's knocking the dirt off of her spikes to dig in and get a better footing sometimes, it seems, she played bare footed.  Tension mounts as she adjusts her cap, rolled up her sleeves, spit in her hands for a better grip, etc.

By now, she's got the nurse on the edge of his seat... as he continues monitoring mom's blood pressure.

BAM! The ball flies out over everyone's head and as the young, brash ballplayer stares down the flight of the ball as it soars high and deep into the outfield. And, as she struts across the bases, you can just guess what happened next... according to the story. Mom goes Babe Ruth on the nun as she points to the area where the ball landed. Everyone cheered... except possibly, the nun. Who knows how many laps my mom's antics caused the team to run. We'll never know because the story usually ends with great fanfare and jubilation.

But this time, my mom ends the saga with a new twist.

"You know, the nuns were always after me to become one of them, but I had no intention," she says. "They'd always tell me what a great asset God would have with me becoming a nun!"

"No way," I said.

Now, I'm thinking, she's not gonna tell the nurse her excuse for not becoming a nun was purely sexual or mention, with a twinkle in her eye, what a great "dancer" my father was... which, of course in those days, meant the same thing! Oh no, I thought to myself.

"No sir, she said. "I told them nuns that I couldn't become a nun because I liked baseball too much!"

The Little Rascals, Spanky McFarland's classic double take had nothing on my gaping mouth and wide eyed surprise.

"Nope, I can't be a nun cause I love baseball too much!"

Copyright 2017/ Ben Bensen III

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