How Great Thou Part

The mall teems with people. Cars are vying for spots. It’s one of those days were it may be a better idea to save some cash and head home.

If I were going to vote on locales where human beings can be their ugliest. A crowded parking lot would have to be in the top ten. However, at this moment, I don’t feel mean and frustrated, just desperate.

I am with my sister. Not my Chick-fil-A sister cohort, but rather my parking space sister cohort.

“Nightmare,” I say. This too has to be in the top ten, ‘no spots left,’ responses.

My sister nods in agreement.

“I’m going to pray to Sister Bonafice,” I say.

“Colleeeeeeeeeen,” she says. And there it is again. The familiar, mother induced inflection on the last portion of my name. I succeed to shock, yet another sister.

“What?” I say innocently. “Sister Bonafice must have loved to shop. She told the other nuns that when she was gone to pray to her for parking spaces. She always comes through. I used to be a non-believer, but every time my mother-in-law would ask for a space, presto, there one was.”

My sisters have honed the head shake. I, as the youngest, am the obvious recipient of it. I take it in stride. However, this time I get the shake. I used to think my mother-in-law was nuts. Then when I realized it worked it took me forever to remember the name, ‘Bonafice.”

The story is rooted somewhere in the fact that my mother-in-law’s mother had seven sisters who were all nuns.

I ignore my sister and I ask for the space. I barely get the words out and suddenly, right in front of us, a space begs our attention.

My sister still isn’t buying it. She’s a tough sell.

Some time later, we are in church and the priest speaks of Saint Anthony. He says that he asks Tony for everything. That he is always there without fail. That he answers every prayer.

I look at my sisters after mass. Now I am the one who shakes my head.

“I told you,” I say.

Father heads our way. He is the priest who is the new pastor at my uncle’s old Parish.

“I loved your Saint Anthony sermon,” I say.

My sister steps up. I have little warning for the words she is about to speak.

“Colleen prays for parking spots,” she spits out. Then she glances over at me with a smile. It’s like circa 1970’s and she’s just ratted me out to our mother and she waits to reap the rewards.

“Uh, oh,” I say quietly under my breath.

My chickens are coming home to roost. She’s outed me in front of a priest.

I look and I wait. I shift my eyes toward her and then him and then him and then her and back again. He simply smiles. After all, he’s a Tony devotee. It seems my new favorite priest is undaunted.

I am smug with contentment. Once again, reminiscent of our youth. The younger sister who’s gotten away with something.

We walk towards her car. In a few minutes we pull up to the breakfast place our family is gathering at. I sit quietly in the backseat as we assess the parking situation.

“You guys get out and I’ll park the car,” says my sister.

“Sounds good,” I say.

For once, this younger sister is smart enough to keep her mouth shut. After all, there’s no mom or priest to help me get away with this one.

Follow me on Facebook at Colleen Sheehy Orme and on Twitter @colleenorme

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