I start to leave my older daughter's classroom. My husband is home today and has decided he wants to take the younger daughter with him for some errands and Father Daughter bonding time. As I start to leave, I hear the teacher mention that the May Crowning would follow immediately after Mass.
My feet stop. May Crowning.
I walk outside, breathe the air and focus on the signs around me. The leaves are just now finally coming out of trees now in small amounts. The air is comfortable but the wind is still carrying a chill. The sky is a flawless blue and the sun shines on me. It is Spring here.
I don't know whether you know this about me, but until last year, I lived in Maryland. The weather here is taking a lot to get used to. I keep thinking to myself, "I should be barefoot for the past 2 months now". But that is life. It keeps changing.
So, I celebrate traditions instead of focusing on getting frustrated with change. Because that's all I can do with a life full of change.
Down the path, toward the Church.
"Hello, Sister! How are you today?" I greet the Sister at our Church and we exchange pleasantries. She asks if I am coming to Mass. I confirm this and continue to walk around the corner to drop off tuition at the Rectory. On the way, I see other parents and teachers who point at the Church doors and say "See you inside for Mass?" I nod yes.
For a split second, I am in Poland. Because my feet are crossing a patch of grass trampled by feet next to the sidewalk and a tree. There is nothing special about this tree, this patch of grass. But the deja vu feeling is there anyway. Perhaps it's the Spring that does that. Perhaps it's the recognition that this patch of trampled grass has been trampled by the faithful around this Church for over 150 years.
Perhaps I once did the same in Poland with my mother on a walk around Wroclaw before we left one day in the middle of the night....
At Mass, I join in with the rest of the Church in songs to the Virgin Mary and listen to reminders that mothers should take inspiration from her.
The children's voices fill the Church in "Alleluia" and I get goosebumps. My daughter's voice is in there singing. She will come home today singing whatever song particularly moved her.
During the petition prayers to the Virgin Mary, I am reminded that as a citizen of a developed nation I am responsible to care for those in less fortunate places....
Leaving the Church, my daughter walks down the aisle with her hands together with her classmates and sees me. "Mommy! They are going to crown the Virgin Mary statue outside! Come on!"...
Standing by my daughter's class outside, she beams at me as she stands quietly in line. The school bursts out in song as the chosen girl walks to the statue, climbs a ladder and crowns the statue. I'm sure many have seen the movie "A Polish Wedding"...
I whisper in my daughter's ear, "We will talk after school. And I can tell you about how special this is in Poland as well." She smiles at me, nods her head and whispers back "Ok, Mamu"...
Walking back to the car and someone mentions to a teacher that it would be nice to have the crown left on. I confirm that I want a picture of the Virgin Mary with her crown. This teacher tells me that at her Polish grade school, they always left the crown on. An excited conversation between her, another lady present for the ceremony and myself and we begin hugging each other and talking about our immigrant family histories. We are all Polish. In a town with what seems like immigrants from everywhere else but Poland...
In line at the grocery store, a Hispanic father with his infant daughter in her infant carrier is in line ahead of me with a WIC check. He has not picked out the items he wants to buy. He does not speak English well. But it's clear he wants formula with the WIC checks. The cashier waits on me while an employee who speaks Spanish is found to help the Hispanic father. She shakes her head at him. Perhaps because she is in a rush. Perhaps she assumes something about him.
I look at him. He could have been my father. Different complexion, facial features, height but he is human. He is an immigrant. He is a new father, nervously checking on his little precious daughter who is sound asleep at his feet. He does not have the new language mastered. By his shoes and hands, I can tell he is blue collar and basically trying to find that elusive "American Dream".
He is not sure why he is standing to the side not being helped. He looks helpless in a way, unsure what anyone is saying around him.
I am taken care of for my purchase and go up to him. Instead of speaking a slew of sentences in English, I say a couple of basic words at a time.
"I help?" He nods.
"I see?" Point to his WIC checks. He hands them to me nervously and nods "Yes, please."
"Formula? Baby? Bambino?" I don't speak Spanish. I just speak a couple of words in several different languages, besides the Polish and English I know comfortably. In my mind, I debate speaking French to him since to me, the languages are very similar. I decide against it. Not everyone seems the same language similarities.
"These checks, no." I point to some. "Later." I wave my hands in dismissal to the side. He nods.
"These checks, yes. Good now." I point to others, gesture with my fingers to the floor the international "now". I separate them, hand him the folder. Hand him the checks that are dated for this month. He says "Aaaa!" with understanding. He puts the folder in his pocket, holds the checks.
The cashier comes over, gushing at my patience, thanking me. An employee is found who speaks Spanish and they begin to tell the father how to pick out his formula. He smiles at me, nods his head in appreciation. I smile back, wave goodbye and walk away.
At church, the petition to be responsible and show compassion towards others and to remember to be like the Virgin Mary with her patience and kindness was a good reminder for today.
But really, the reason I tried to help that father?
It could have been my father.