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Melodious Chimes MAG
Sunday mornings have such potential, itseems. Are we itching to make up for a bad week, or trying to make agood start of a new one? There’s something about waking up witheight o’clock mass-goers to take time for a task or previouslyforgotten thought; it makes things so simple. It doesn’t matteryet that I’ve put off going shopping for this or that, orcleaning, or doing laundry, or homework. It’s this feeling likethe most important thing in the entire world - on this day - is whetherI lie back down for a nap or pull open the curtains to welcome thesun.
It’s kind of like that feeling you get whenyou’ve just woken up and you’re still dreaming, andit’s so nice you’re clawing at the pillow just trying tohold on to it. This feeling, in all its brilliance somewhere betweenconsciousness and sleep, is amazing. And Sunday mornings are like anelaborately planned, cosmic warp of time that prolongs thissensation.
Today I remembered something that happened when I waslittle. I don’t know now if it were a weekly ritual or happenedjust a few times, but that doesn’t matter. It was special. I knowbecause of the way it sticks in my mind every time some unknowingtrigger sets it off, like a wave of coziness snuggling in around mewhile I’m clinging to that sleepless feeling.
It happenedon Sunday mornings. I would wake up to the sound of bells from the fiveor six churches within earshot. Around seven o’clock I’dtrudge down the stairs, rubbing my eyes, and see Mommy already awake andsipping her tea.
“Morning, Mother.” I’d forgottenI used to call her Mother. She’d make a cup of tea for me withhoney, because my throat was sore, and we’d dunk biscotti andshortbread cookies and pitzets in it. We’d talk of shopping listsand family gossip and trivial little things which the other onlyhalf-listened to.
Then, our tea cups emptied, Mother would washthem, along with whatever remained from the night before. Andshe’d be singing, always singing something I’d never heardon the radio because it was that old. It was mysterious in its age, andwise, with a timeless feel to it. As far as I knew, the clocks hadstopped ticking at the very moment it was first sung, as if preservingsome strange, traditional way of life before things like CDs. This wasour favorite:
When I was just a little girl
Iasked my mother, what will I be
Will I be pretty, will I berich
Here’s what she said to me.
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s notours to see
Que Sera, Sera.
What will be, willbe.
And Mother would sing and she grew this look inher eyes, this dreamy remembering. I imagined she was rememberingsomething from when she was little, something Doris Day wasn’tsinging about; the old drive-in, perhaps, or her own Sunday morningswith my Nana. Were their routines like mine and hers? Did Nana sing withthe girl who would be my mother?
I’d wonder about that,and I’d sing with her too, twirl about the kitchen, doing mylittle chores: wipe down the counter, clear the table, retrieve the bigskillet from the cabinet. As bacon sizzled and popped its scaldinggrease, I, at a safe distance, cracked eggs.
I had to stand on achair to reach the countertop, and it’s funny, I think, that thoselittle things are what I remember.
And so we’d cooktogether, still singing: pancakes, bacon, scrambled eggs with cheese,sausage patties. I was in charge of buttering the toast, back when weused real butter. By the time I got around to setting places, Eric hadsmelled the bacon, dragged himself downstairs, and slumped into hisusual seat.
The singing faded as I, almost tripping, boundedup to the second floor. From there, I tiptoed down the hall,then to my right, the spiral of the bottom stairs, straightening up atthe top, and over to the bed where I announced, “Daddy! Time forbreakfast, wake up!”
With his acknowledging grunt, I tookit upon myself to nudge a shoulder with my hand. His eyes popped open,then quickly closed again, with a yawn. “Okay, Sister. Down in aminute,” he mumbled
After descending the stepstriumphantly, I took my seat at the table for my sandwich on toast, cutinto triangles, of course. Daddy would pass me the black stuff, whosename I could never remember - pepper. Sunshine poured through the windowand small talk through the air, amidst the clank and scrape ofsilverware, and all was perfect, just for that day - just for Sundaymorning.
As soon as it came it was gone, this memory of mine.Woken once again by church bells, I’m flooded with emotion forwhat once was. Each resounding roll of bells calls to me, asks whyI’ve stopped believing in church, asks what I’m doing withmy life, where I’m going; asks all the what-ifs I’m too muchof a coward to utter aloud. To anyone else, they’d just be churchbells, a nuisance even, having disturbed the late-sleeping of someonetoo apathetic to appreciate them. For me, they beg the questions whichhave no answers and they get me thinking. Still, basking in the Sundaymorning afterglow, I feel that it’s okay not to know.