Returning Home

I took my mother to her childhood homes yesterday. Happens to be the same town/area my daughter lives in. Yes,  I was a bit anxious and found myself looking at faces like I used to do before I found her.  I tried hard not to let my mind run away with me in relation to her and did my best to focus on my mother and her utter and complete joy at seeing her home neighborhood after more than 40 years.

Mom sat on the steps of the two homes she lived in, told me stories of playing handball, shared the names of old neighbors.  We drove by her old high school (Erasmus Hall,  a Jewish High School) and she shared stories of being an Irish Catholic girl attending a Jewish High school. She pointed out “the mound” near the Brooklyn Museum where she and my dad used to make out while they were dating.  We had a yummy tex-mex lunch at a cute place on her old street. We went inside the church she was a member of and had an amusing conversatoin with the current priest.  This gent introduced himself to us and said “I am the first black priest” at this parish. I high-fived him and said “good for you Father!”.

While I am no longer a practicing Catholic I found myself taken by him, his lovely church and the fact he conducts mass and confession in English, Spanish and French Creole. I even talked abortion with him.  All the while my  mother was smiling and chatting up a storm about her younger days in the Church. Before we left he gave us both a blessing. Said blessing made my mother smile and me rather uncomfortable but I went along out of respect for them both.

Despite being in the same general vicinity as my daughter this did not happen a second time and I was pleased.  The day was about my mother and she was pleased.  For that, I was pleased.

Link to pictures of the day if you are interested.


6 Thoughts.

  1. What a nice day for you and your mom. I checked out the pictures and can see how the two of you resemble one another. The pictures of the church took me back in time too as I was raised a Catholic and attended Catholic schools grades 1-12! There were many things about the religion that didn’t bode well with me so I’m not actively practicing a religion at this point in my life. Instead, I focus on being a good person with a warm, kind heart!

    • Re: Catholic. Agree completely. I was raised that way as well and in such a church (though mine wasn’t quite as attractive as St. Teresa’s). I have serious issues with organized religion and consider myself an anti-theist. I believe in moral codes and such but don’t need organized religion to live them.

  2. I’ve experienced going back to my old neighborhoods, many different ones in California and Hawaii since we moved a lot, and it’s such a wonderful (mostly) trip down memory lane. My hub is from Brooklyn/Queens and when he’s visited, remarks upon how much things changed from the old days, and not for the better. Still, it triggers fond memories for him.

    Anti-theist, good word, new to me. Like you, “I believe in moral codes and such but don’t need organized religion to live them.”

    • I must credit Christopher Hitchens with my knowledge in this regard. I am a big fan of his writings.

      “I’m not even an atheist so much as I am an antitheist; I not only maintain that all religions are versions of the same untruth, but I hold that the influence of churches, and the effect of religious belief, is positively harmful.” – Christhopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian

    • My mother was quite surprised to find that her neighborhood was not the nightmare it had been rumored to be. Quite the opposite in fact. Many sections of Brooklyn are quite popular (owing much to gentrification). The Heights where my mother grew up are quite nice. I would live there. Your husband might be surprised. The manager of the restaurant we ate in told us that 3 room apartments were going for 2K a month. (Yikes).

  3. What a lovely post, Suz. While I wasn’t raised Catholic, I have met a couple of priests who are much more progressive in their thinking that what my perception of them was prior.

    Speaking of religion; I also do not feel comfortable with any kind of organized religion; although Buddhist and other eastern teachings resonate with me.

    I especially always related to what the Dalai Lama says “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”

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