The wheels were set in motion and I was along for the ride. In third grade I had attended catechism and had taken my official first communion. The best part? You got a lot of cards and most of them had gifts in them. As a matter of fact, it was more than I have ever seen for any birthday up to that point. Cool! Other than that, I really don't think I had much of a clue about what I was doing and why. But I am sure that it all looked nice.
So fourth grade was the year for my confirmation. Although I think it really was more of a conformation, where I was just conforming to what was going on around me rather than confirming what I supposedly believed. But I digress.
Confirmation was to take place in May of that school year. A whole year of catechism. That meant getting out of school a half-hour early every Wednesday. Yeah!
Apparently confirmation is a big thing in the Catholic church. If you don't know much about it (and I claim to know very little), here is my understanding of what confirmation is: It is you saying to the Catholic church, "You know that thing you did to me when I was a baby, sprinkling that water on my head to baptize me, I am okay with that and I will be a loyal member of the Catholic church from this day on."
Problem is, does that really happen in droves at 4th grade? But that is a topic for another post.
Because this is such a big event in the Catholic church, my mom's mother was going to come over from Germany for the first time. I cannot imagine how much that must have thrilled my mother. A chance for her mom to see how things were going for her. Nice house, car, 3 kids, the American dream.
But things changed in January when the telegram came. In those days, bad news always came by telegram. My mom's mother had a stroke that took her life. Mom was devastated.
It was sometime shortly after that that mom came to me with a question. She wanted to know if I could put off my confirmation for another year. It would just be too soon after her mom's death for her to deal with it. She wanted it to be a happy occasion, but she knew how that cloud of sadness would overshadow it. My response was quick. "Sure, Mom, I don't mind." And I really didn't. I still had no real idea of what it was all about anyway.
Mom stopped sending us to mass after that. And that was probably a good thing.
Next: A move across the border.