Last week I wrote a blog about how quickly time passes. May passed so quickly I didn’t make the time to write. Instead, I summed up the entire month of May in the post with a list of some of my month’s personal highlights.
One reason I blog is to document as many of my special memories from my life as possible. Sometimes, in the course of my daily living, an event will trigger such a memory.
One such case is my granddaughter, Ella’s First Communion. On Wednesday, May 11, 2011, Ella received her First Holy Communion. She is eight years old. She received the sacrament of Confirmation the same evening. The mass was celebrated at Sacred Heart Cathedral in the City of Rochester, even though Ella’s church is St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Hamlin. Nowadays, at least in the Diocese of Rochester, several area churches come together for the receiving of these sacraments.
In preparation for this special and holy occasion, my daughter, Julie, purchased Ella a beautiful white dress and veil. Ella’s outfit included white tights and white dress sandals. A couple of hours before church I called Julie to see how things were progressing. With frustration in her voice, she told me she was “in negotiations” with Ella about wearing her veil and tights. It seemed that at the last-minute Ella didn’t want to wear her veil or the white tights. I smiled as I listened to Julie’s lament, knowing full well who would be the victor.
Sure enough, as we walked into the Cathedral, Julie came up with Ella in tow. Ella looked absolutely beautiful. Julie had fashioned Ella’s hair in a beautiful up-do. In place of the veil, a small spray of white flowers adorned the back of Ella’s hair. It looked perfect and she looked as innocent and beautiful as she could be. She was stocking-less in her pretty white sandals. And off we went into church with her Grandpa at her side. He was her Confirmation sponsor.
The next day I got to thinking about Ella and the veil. I remember when I made my First Communion I could not WAIT to wear a veil. In fact, I’m certain all the girls in my class couldn’t wait. We thought we were little brides of Christ or something. Our pictures were taken professionally, complete with our rosary beads draped between our clasped hands as we looked up angelically from our prayer kneeler. I recall receiving a First Communion “kit” that included gloves, rosaries, a prayerbook and our veils. Consistency was critical back then; we girls needed to look as alike as possible. I also seem to remember that either my mother or her sister, my aunt and godmother, made my dress.
It was all so very special. I received my First Communion with the entire second grade from St. Andrew’s school and the kids from public school who attended religious instruction. We received communion on my 8th birthday, Saturday, May 10, 1958. The next day was Mother’s Day. I even remember the special hymn we learned just for such a holy occasion:
Jesus, Jesus, come to me,
All my longing is for Thee.
Of all friends, the best Thou art,
Make of me Thy counterpart.
Jesus, I live for Thee,
Jesus, I die for Thee,
I belong to Thee
Forever, in life and death.
When we were young, my Dad’s free time was pretty limited given that he was a self-employed grocer. I’m not sure the term, “disposable income” was widely understood back then, but he certainly didn’t have much of that either. Yet, my Dad found a way to make things special for us when he could.
For many years, the store was open seven days a week. There were other years when he would only open from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. I’m not sure what the schedule was in 1958, but I’ve always had fond memories of that weekend. On Saturday I wore my beautiful dress and veil to church to receive the body of Jesus Christ for the first time. I was always wrapped up in the mystery of it all when I was young and I was probably thinking I was halfway to heaven back then. I don’t remember if we had a party afterwards, but it was likely we did as that was typical.
The festivities didn’t end on Saturday. The very next day, Mother’s Day, I got to wear my dress and veil to church again! Later that day Dad took the family to an Italian restaurant on Canandaigua Lake called “Caruso’s.” We went there a few times when I was a child, and I always remember it being very “fancy” as I would have called it. It felt like we were transported to a special place when we went there. Dad would order us “Shirley Temples” to drink. I don’t remember what I ate. I only remember feeling very, very special that day.
I don’t remember thinking about my First Communion when my children were receiving their sacraments. Maybe I was too busy with the flurry of activity at the time. Growing older has its advantages. You have more time for reflection and recollection. In any case, here I am 53 years later remembering feeling like a princess in God’s eyes and my Dad’s. I’m glad I finally took the time to capture this memory. There may come a time when I won’t remember it, and I will be happy that I recorded it.