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Tapestry by Mary Greene

I am coming to see myself as a tapestry woven over time by the many threads of community.

There is the early community of family. I spent many hours of many days with my grandmother. To me, she seemed to have neither a sense of humor nor much imagination, but she loved me. I remember her soothing me as I cried over a favorite painted cup of hers that I accidentally broke. Mim-mare (MaMere) as we called her, reminded me that there was still the saucer on which a plain white cup would look just fine.

My mother was probably child weary by the time I came. Yet I learned from her to be generous to those in need. While my father who did not have much time for me, taught me to be honest by having me return a candy bar that I stole from a drugstore. Papa would ask, Does that belong to you? Did you ask to borrow that?" If the answers were "no," I was told to "leave it alone." In retrospect, my brothers and sister taught me to share.

There was the Southside church community were the gentle words of the priest told me that black people were the same as white people. In the first grade, Sister Mary Norman saw my watering eyes and said she hoped I was not getting a cold. Where upon tears flooded my eyes and I sobbed that I had lost a new pair of gloves. In her comforting voice and manner she said to stay after school and we would find them and so we did.

The northwest suburbs brought a high school community where Sister Mary Francis taught me and many other so called "convent girls" that history was more than facts and dates. We were expected to conduct a class, write a dialectical argument, and never misspell a word on any written material that was submitted to her. She warned that a misspelled word on a test would result in a grade of zero. "Use the dictionary," she would admonish.

In the church community of my teen years, I met a priest who introduced me to Commonweal, a thoughtful magazine on current events, to WFMT's Midnight Special and to James Agee. I went off to college a pretty sophisticated reader and when I was home sick, I would go into the Bishop Quarter room, the reading room in Saint Xavier College's library and read Commonweal.

My college years were shared with and supported by seven fellow nursing students all valiant women, as the then all women school called its students. We have remained close. Several years ago, we concelebrated our 50th birthday with a week-end in Galena, immortalizing the Valiant Women on souvenir tee shirts.

The threads of community continue with many differing textures, colors, and hues. At another time, I will share the influence of the vibrant "Ladies of the Lake" and the stimulating conversation and kindness of "Ceil's Salon." Then, too, the texture and strong ties of my husband's family in southern Illinois need to be felt. But, this is a good place to pause in my story.

Originally Posted on Tuesday, July 26, 2005 - 04:03 PM (378 Reads)

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