Grandma’s BIG Surprise

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On another day, I do not remember if it was before the incident of the figs or after, I was visiting my Grandma Jessie.  As usual, I was in the kitchen sitting at the table talking to my Grandma. She spoke to me in both Italian and a little English.  However even though I did not speak Italian I could understand my Dolly.  I never wondered how she understood me because I only spoke in English.  But somehow we were always able to communicate and we never had a problem.
Grandma Jessie had just placed some coffee (milk with a taste of coffee) and of course her home-made Italian donuts in front of me to enjoy when she told me she had a surprise.  But before I could see the surprise I had to eat my donut and drink my coffee.  I ate quickly and drank my coffee fast and soon I was ready for the surprise.  Even though I was a young man I was excited about the surprise my Grandma had for me.

Into the formal dining room we went and there before my eyes was the statue of the Blessed Mother of Jesus Christ.  Yes, her surprise was a statue of Mary, the mother of God. I just stood there looking at the statue.
However, this was not just another statue of Mary, it was an old statue of Mary and it rested on the floor of the dining room with the top of Mary’s head almost reaching the ceiling.  It was a giant statue of Mary and it stood almost eight feet tall.  I was spellbound.  For once in my life I could not speak.  All I could see was this giant statue of Mary.  Catching my senses I asked “Where did you get the statue?”  All the time I was thinking why would my Grandma want something like that?  Yet at the same time knowing why my Dolly would want the statue.
She told me how she got the statue from the church and that one of the priests gave it to her. She was so proud of her statue. She pointed to it and touched it telling me how beautiful it is and how wonderful.  I could see the sparkle in her eyes as she told me both the story of how it became hers, and then the story of the statue.  The next thing I knew we were saying the rosary in front of the statue. My Grandma’s face was all aglow and I knew that she was both proud and pleased that the statue was hers.
I cannot count the times I prayed with my Dolly in front of the statue of Mary, but I am sure it was more than just a few times. I can tell you how the statue scared me one night when I slept over her house and I got up from bed to get a glass of water.  Walking into the dining room I was scared awake after catching sight of the giant statue of Mary and me thinking that it was something else.  It did not scare me as much as the crocodile my sister Marianne told me about in fairy land.  You remember the crocodile that slept under my bed at night.  Waiting to bite my arm or leg off just as soon as it dangled from the bed.  But the statue of Mary did scare me.

(Note: to Daddy’s “Peanut” – I see your memory is fading fast, your comment implied I was not the best driver, but I was!)

My Dolly!

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Thanks for your comments!
I was surprised by the number of comments and the calls I received about my blogs related to my Grandma Jessie (my Dolly).  Your actions jogged my memory enough to help me to remember more and more about my wonderful Grandmother.  So just to let you know it is a good idea to comment on my blog or call me.  So based on my memories that have been jogged here is another little story.
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One day, I was driving home from school with a few of my friends in my car when I passed my Grandma Jessie’s house.  I glanced over at the house and much to my surprise I saw my Grandma Jessie in her black dress standing on the roof of the garage!  Of course I had to stop my car and find out what was going on at my Dolly’s house.
Applying the brakes a little too quickly and a little too firmly I skidded to a stop.  Normally I was the best car driver in my family but today my driving skills departed me as I was concerned about the safety of my Grandmother. Placing the car in reverse I quickly backed up to my Grandma’s house.
I was out of my car and running into her backyard as I was yelling up to my Grandma Jessie.

What are you doing? Are you ok? Why are you on the roof? Do you know how dangerous it is to be on the roof? How did you get on the roof? It’s not safe please come down please!

Speaking to me in Italian she said, “Johnny, calm down, relax, stop yelling, all I am doing is picking the figs, there is nothing for you to worry about”.

I responded in English and said, “Grandma, I will pick the figs for you.  You do not need to pick the figs, I can pick the figs”.

Dolly responded in Italian saying, “No, no, Johnny you need to go to school”.

I responded in English, “School is over. I can pick the figs for you. Please get off the roof and let me pick the figs”.

At this point she agreed and left the roof for the backyard.  I climbed up the latter along with one of my school friends and we began picking figs.  With Grandma Jessie on the ground directing us to the figs we picked figs for about one hour.  Another school friend would bring the picked figs down the latter to Grandma Jessie and she sorted the figs.  We picked so many figs that my Grandma wanted to give some away.

She offered some figs to me and my friends but I was the only person to accept.  Then she wanted to take some figs to her neighbors so we helped for a time but soon it was time to be home.  I thanked her for the figs and reminded her that I will pick her figs and that she will not go on the roof anymore.  Of course she said yes but I knew that she would do what she wanted.  I had no choice I had to go home and tell my mother.  I felt terrible my Grandma’s Italian prince had to squeal on his Dolly.

A Young Student

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I want to tell you a story about my early years.  My memory is not what it used to be so forgive me if my earliest days start with my first year in school.  As the oldest boy in the family I started school at the early age of four.  I became five during my first year of kindergarten.  I was the youngest child in my class.  I was also a cute little boy and all the girls in my class wanted to play with me.  I played tag, jump rope (not well), ball, and house.  I did not play hopscotch much because my older sister never taught me how to toss the little thing into the squares.
My teacher liked me because I was a little shy my first year of school.  This did not last very long and by first grade I was a student the teachers liked to sit in the front of the class.  Thanks to the effort of eight wonderful teachers I became a young educated person.  These wonderful teachers did all this before my graduation into high school.

I went to public school for my first year and grades one to eight were spent at a catholic grammar school.  Even though my oldest sister Marianne started school years ahead of me my enrollment aided both my mom and dad to become frequent visitors at my school.  Oh the skills they accrued. After graduation I applied for and was accepted at both catholic high schools.  I was looking forward to attending high school.  It was my understanding that high school students selected the classes they needed to attend.

I went to my first high school councilors meeting prior to starting high school.  It was a sad meeting because he was telling me all about the classes I would be taking during my four years of high school.  I tried to explain why I wanted to select some of my classes, but my councilor informed me that based on my test scores these were the classes I must take.  As I remember there may have been a little yelling but I am sure that I did not swear at him.  Anyway by the time I got home the high school had called my father and explained that I was just not the right type of student for their high school.  I am sure My dad had to learn how to control his temper and not yell at the bad councilor.

Through out my life I have always wondered, does it count if you are tossed out of high school before you even start?  I was sure it did not count so I just went to the other high school.  That school was in another city so it was necessary for me to catch a train to attend high school.  Guess what I learned.  High schools talk to each other and they do not ask you to really explain what happened.  I went to my first counseling session and the brother explained the school rules first and then informed me what classes I would need to take if I expected to graduate.  I kept my promise to my father and did not argue with my counselor.  I started high school and life was good.  I enjoyed high school except for the multiple visits to the dean of men.  I was also not very happy with detention. However both Mom and Dad were able to use the skills they gained in their discussions with my multiple teachers during my grammar school years, again now that I was in High School when they had to meet with the schools Dean of Boys.

By the end of the third month of my first year of High School, I thought that detention was my ninth period class.  At the end of my freshman year the dean of men scheduled what he hoped to be the final meeting with my father and mother.  The bottom line was very simple; I could transfer to another school or graduates from this high school and continue for one additional year to complete my accrued detention.  My fate was sealed.  I would be attending another high school in the fall.  I started my second year of high school in the public school system.  I was considered a good student due to my grades.  My behavior did not change but for some reason it was a little more acceptable in the public school system.