My mother used to love to go to church. Sometimes the rest of the family didn’t make it easy for her to enjoy those times, but I think, by an large, she enjoyed every minute of it.
It was not only that she had unshakeable faith in her maker; but was a steadfast, unfaltering Lutheran from the get-go. But like other women in the fifties, it was a chance to see everyone that you hadn’t seen in a week and a chance to dress up little. My mom never did have a drivers license, and for the most part, she was a homebody. So she did enjoy that chance to get out with her family and “strut her stuff.”
Not that we made it any easier for her. My little sister could not make up her mind who’s lap she wanted to sit on -Dad’s or Mom’s – and spent the most of the sermon passed in between the two.
As for my Dad, he was kind of notorious for grabbing a mini-nap on occasion. I cannot believe that my dad has been dead for over 25 years, so I don’t think I’m telling stories out of school or something that would embarrass him, nor meaning any disrespect when I say that Mom was poking and pinching him on a regular basis throughout most sermons. When she wanted to really startle him she would plop my little sister on his lap really firmly.
Mom would come out of church sometimes and was so irritated with Dad for sleeping during the sermon. But Dad would maintain that he was just resting his eyes – or say with a wink to me and brother Curly that “I just wanted to examine the other side of my eyelids.” Mom would try to trick him with the question of what the sermon was about, but I never saw him give a wrong answer, so maybe he was just resting his eyes. But I think Mom had it right.
I was always suspicious after I grew old that Rev. Weiland, who was a morning coffee buddy of Dad’s would give him the “heads up” on the sermon as he was coming out of the church and shaking hands with the pastor because the pastor knew hard Dad worked and never chastised him for “resting his eyes.”
My Dad worked in that hardware store for nearly thirty years from 7:30 in the morning and until 6 every weekday and until 9:00 on Saturdays. Then on Sunday, he had to drive me around delivering the Sunday papers because the Sunday paper was so heavy and I had a route that covered about 4 ½ miles and I couldn’t handle that many papers on my back. So Sunday was the only day Dad had off. And he didn’t have much of it off with my paper route and Mom’s insistence that he go to church. I use to think that Mom was harder on him then God would have been.
Add two rambunctious boys to the church mix and it is a wonder that Mom wanted to go at all. At eight and ten, brother Curley and I just couldn’t sit still. When we left home, we looked dapper and meticulously groomed our hair was combed just right, little sport coats, ties, and bright white shirts as we walked into the church. When we walked out, our ties would be askew, shirttails out, dragging our jackets behind and our hair would look like an explosion in a steel wool factory.
We were normal kids expected to sit still for what seemed like a long time and we weren’t tired like Dad.
I remember one time when we were particularly fidgety. About halfway through the sermon, Mom grabbed us by the ear and she leaned over and whispered: “If you don’t be quiet, pastor Weiland is going to lose his place and he will have to start all over again.