Tuesday, 17 November 2009
The girls all washed and in their Sunday best. For the first time for Sunday church.
I had past the church in the center of town many times and thought little of it other than a good example of the stone architecture of the time. It always struck me as strange it had star of David in the middle of the left tower. The first time I passed it I thought it was amazing we had a Temple in town. I was assured it was the First Congregational Church when I asked where the knishes were at the Church bazaars and picnic the first year we were in town.
For the record they didn't know what a knish was. Nor any other Jewish food I asked for. At that point they thought Ian married a Jew. I just went along with it and tried to invite the pastor over for the Sador. He bowed out gracefully.
Ian and the girls were the only ones who got the joke. Though there were less girls back then.
Some years later I did tell his wife it was just a joke since no-one seemed to think an star of David was unusual for a church. She was shocked to hear it was a Jewish symbol. It must have been there so long no-one made the connection. Funny how it takes a stranger to notice something you see all the time.
People , passers by have always pointed out to me things I never noticed about myself in my youth. I yearn for those days again every now and again. It seems everyone I see now I have seen for years and there are no strangers around sent from some celestial place for wisdom to filter through.
Back to church. We, of course, got there 5 minutes late. Last time I did this , I was the kid. There is no better way to make an entrance in the local small town church than to arrive 5 minutes late with a bunch of load questioning girls, the kind of questions you don't want resonating through a silent Church. Questions like " what is church and why are we going?" "why do we have to be quite?" And my all time favorite from my oldest "shouldn't you still be asleep at this hour, mother?"
And me, tired and weary, and yes, usually at this time I am still sleep this time of day on a Sunday, instead of being embarrassed in front of most of the town and all of the town's gossips.
The preacher had stopped what he was saying as I was trying to slip into church with my noisy bunch. He waved us in. I took the road of pride and walked us to the middle of the church instead of the back of the church where I was hoping no-one would notice us. No chance of that now.
Fidget was the word in my family for the next hour. An hour of constant correction. The one thing going through my mind "why do women who have children put themselves through this?" why did my grand mother with all those kids do this? I do remember she didn't care after a while, when I ran away. When I left to catch frogs and learn from Moses. She didn't realize after a while I was going to church with Moses' family.
Oh no, the thought of genetics came to mind. These girls are all mine. How can they do anything but fidget. I braced myself to see if any would bolt out the door.
About that time the preacher preached about a sows ear and a silk purse all while looking at us. How flashbacks of my grandmother's church was coming to me. Filtering through my mind in between the hushed words to Solas and Freedom. The words of hatred and condemning those Jesus would have loved.
I really don't think Precious really meant this for me and the girls.
Then something strange happened.
Oh nothing like Mother Mary coming down to make my girls perfect angels, but something that threw me just the same.
Preacher talked about hidden talents. About other loves. About people not being what they seemed. That people had lives before they arrived. that people are different than what you believe them to be.
Then he came down to me and asked me to come up,
"take for example, Emma, here. " he said to the congregation " How many of you know she was a musician? or that she even record an album in Europe? Oh I am sure you were aware of her husband's musical career..."
I was so proud of my self for not interrupting him to point out that Ian was my EX husband, as in former and no longer.
"But Mrs McEwing here, is a musician in her own right, and they meet when he was he back up musician."
He stopped to let that all soak in.
"So I have asked Mrs McEwing up here to see if she would grace us with a song or two this morning as our Mrs. Benoit is unable to play for us due to an ailment. It must have been God himself who directed Mrs McEwing here today with her daughters to fill in." he smiled and brought me a guitar.
How can you say no when GOD HIMSELF brought you to church to fill in. Maybe in more ways than he knew.
I tuned the unfamiliar instrument. I wish I had my old steel one for this. But I make due. I tuned it to my satisfaction and sat down on the chair the preacher fetched for me. I sang two songs. Old ones. I avoided looking at the town's people before me trying to get my old mojo going. Just like the old days with Moses.
I must say, it felt great to sing in front of people again.
I noticed the town folk in front of me. They looked shocked. I don't think they were used of the blues or gospel. I wasn't sure what to make of them. Strange people, don't know what good music is.
The preacher smiled at me as he retrieved the guitar and the chair and put them aside.
"If I am not mistaken, Mrs McEwing, that was examples of the blues you learned growing up in the south."
I smiled back and said "Yes, I would often play in church in my youth." I really wanted to say "Will you stop calling me by Ian's name AND IT IS MS SMITH, the name change came with the divorce decree." But I didn't, I just smiled and looked meek as I walked back to my pew. My girls were smiling at me.
Damn, Ian must have told him a lot about me.
"Mama, you sing good" Mercy said in her little voice. That was all the justification I needed for the day that I still had it.
As we left the church the preacher asked us to come back, "Don't make yourselves strangers to God's house. " he said.
The jury was still out on that in my head. The ride back home was nearly uneventful. Mercy did ask who my husband was. It made me laugh. Freedom quickly said we don't talk about that. We really don't talk about that in our house. I realized she really had no clue who Ian was, how could she, she was only a few weeks old. And the next youngest, Chas, she barely could remember some vague man who was around and than not. His loss. I kept saying that in my head all the way home. It pushed out any feeling of the blues I had for them not having a father.
When we got home a woman was there. Blonde, thin, bright blue eyes with freckles. Much younger than me.
"Can I help you? Are you lost? " I said as I told the girls to stay in the car and I ventured toward her.
"Are you Dani?"
"That was a lifetime ago." I replied. Been decades since someone called me that.
"Where is your birth mark?"
"Under my makeup? Do you need to see it for some reason?" Now I was getting annoyed. She doesn't seem like some long lost fan. I could only think of the millions of ways this young woman has come to mess with my life.
"You don't remember me?" she said hopeful.
Now I was starting to worry for my children. "Sorry? Should I? " I said as nonthreatening as I could. " I have meet a lot of people over the years. Maybe a hint?" Though something about her reminded me of someone. I couldn't put my finger on it, but what ever it was made me very uneasy and worry for my children.
" It was a long time ago. I suspect you wouldn't. I was only a little girl." She looked to the ground "No easy way to say this."
"Well, easier if you just spit it out and let the chips fall sometimes, I find." I replied in a friendly voice, hoping she wasn't carrying a weapon.
"Mom's dead, sis."