My cinderella story Print
Grand Mom
Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010 -- 1:00 AM

grand momSometimes I ask myself why, in my 80s, I am still performing the duties of lector for our parish church. I no longer bounce up and down the altar steps like the younger Ministers of the Word, nor can I work up a sweat in the parish kitchen like the faithful funeral lunch ladies. But I can still read.

And I am acutely aware of the warnings I issued to my students all those years I coached forensics: Focus on the words, and be aware that this is not a memorized performance, but rather "sharing" the author's words. It's a privileged ministry.

Okay, so that sounds nice, but today I had an experience that made me question my motives just a little bit.

Call for help

It's Friday, and my turn to do the reading for the weekday Mass. I dash out the door at 7:30 to give myself time to get there early for the rosary, select the song, and check the book. I've already prepared the reading in advance.

But my car won't start? Not again! I just got a new battery last month. . . . It's that darn door that doesn't close tightly, and the interior lights stay on all night and drain the battery. It's too late to call for help for the car. "Lord, help me," I prayed.

Now, I would like to say, "An angel of the Lord appeared," but that's not what happens these days. Instead, God gave us reasoning power . . . and cell phones. So I called my friend Estelle, who also goes to daily Mass, and begged her to come pick me up, even though it's out of her way. I'll worry about the car later.

After Mass I offered to take her out to breakfast to show my appreciation. She agreed, but only after she ran a couple of errands. She had a poster to drop off at our school, advertising a Christmas show she is doing, and she also had to go to the city compost site to drop off a load of leaves and brush that she cleaned up in her yard. This woman has unbelievable energy, and she is just one year younger than I am.

At breakfast I told her how impressed I am that she can still memorize and perform these one-woman shows and do all of the physical work of gardening not only at her home, but at the church, too.

We have shared more than 40 years of performing in community theatre productions, acting and/or directing, but did we sit there reminiscing about our common ground? No, these two old ladies-in-their-eighties talked about the busy lives we live today.

"How do you do it?" I asked

Estelle smiled and replied, "I recently did a classroom performance of one of my Emily shows, and when it was finished a little boy raised his hand and asked, 'How many years have you been doing this?' I told him 50 years."

Hooked on acting

With that I chuckled thinking how I would have to answer that. "I could beat you there," I said. "For me it would be 78 years. I made my stage debut at the age of four, when I played Cinderella. One of my earliest memories is standing in the center of the stage, singing a solo in a raggedy dress when my Fairy Godmother came up behind me, waved her magic wand over me unhooking my rags which dropped to my ankles and behold! I was wearing a beautiful pink ruffled dress."

I heard the applause of the audience, and I was hooked. My big sister had enrolled me in this Saturday class at her Catholic high school, and it changed my life, I guess. I ended up being in all of the school plays, community theatre productions, and even getting a minor in theatre.

"What kind of a class was that?" Estelle asked.

"We listened to music and kept time with tambourines, triangles, little drums, and things like that. It was called a Rhythm Class." We both had a good laugh over that, remembering how I had failed the "rhythm method" all those years. (Or should I say it failed me?)

What is the point of this lesson? I don't know. Is it to question our underlying motives in our church ministry? Is it using God's gifts for his work? Or is it simply that Cinderellas and old actors never die?

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