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Archive for January, 2010

Sisters

Sisters are God’s gift to womankind.  I’m not talking about the usual feminist blather about Sisterhood Being Powerful, I’m talking about real, flesh-and-blood sisters.  Every little girl wants one.  Most are lucky enough to get one to grow up with, and the bonds are unbreakable.  I’m willing to allow that there are sisters who don’t get along, but I devoutly hope they are few and far between.  Because — I don’t know what I would do without my sister.

She came along when I was fifteen, and by then my mother had had four boys and I had absolutely given up on the prospect of having a sister.  From the day she came home, she wound her way into our hearts.  My sister is the person who made us a family; she keeps in touch not only with all my brothers, and is the only member of the family whom all of us are speaking to at any given time, but she also stays in touch with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins.  In a combined Irish and Polish family, this is a formidable task, but she does it and she thrives on it.

After yesterday’s utter shocker, I called my sister, who is a town clerk in a small New Hampshire town, and told her the news.  She wasn’t at her desk, or maybe she was on the phone, so I had to leave a message.  Today I drove up to pay her a visit at her office.  She rushed through her customer — I think it was a dog license — came out of the office, gave me a big hug, and said, “I couldn’t believe that phone call.” She told me that when she heard my message, she exclaimed, “Oh, my God, I don’t believe it!!” and her deputy said, “What??” and my sister said, “C’mere, you gotta hear this,” and played my message back.  The deputy, whom I also know, was also shocked beyond words.

“I got three hours’ sleep last night,” I told my sister.

“You look it,” she shot back.  “I’m sorry, but you look like hell.  You look like you got hit by a truck.”

“I did,” I said.  This is one of the chief things I adore about my sister:  In a world where everybody tiptoes around you, never tells you anything to your face, and then knifes you in the back (sorry for the generalization, but in my experience, Greeks are past masters at this stunt), I can absolutely count on my sister to tell it like it is.  I needed to hear that I looked like a train wreck.

Friends are also wonderful to have.  In addition to all the comments on my last post, for which I thank people devoutly — I’m still in shock myself — I visited, this morning, a friend who is actually on this infamous parish council, and she said the notion of my being considered for the job never even came up.  One person said, of the other candidate, “Is she a secretary?” but that comment was ignored, in the general rush to make sure a Greek sat in that front office.  This gentle soul kept saying, “I wish I could do something for you,” and I couldn’t tell her how much she had already done.  (She also dropped into the office yesterday, and told me that Father was “very worried” about me.  He’s so worried that he hasn’t called all day.)

So I’m profoundly grateful for my friends.  But my sister is the only person I know who can say with utter conviction, “You better not agree to help out your replacement [which was suggested to me yesterday], or I will hurt you.”  “Mighty Mite,” my mother used to call her, because it took her until she was ten years old to reach 50 lbs. — that girl absolutely could not put on weight — but boy, she packed a punch when she was roused.  Obviously — she still does.

I love you, Annie!

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As most of you know, nearly two years ago I became secretary to my parish priest.  The understanding between us was that although I would start as a volunteer, he would obtain a salary for me from the parish council.

Well — I’m sure you can guess what happened.  That salary never materialized.  From time to time I would bring it up, but the timing was never “right,” in terms of the mess left behind by the last priest and the amount of work needed to bring the parish back into some semblance of order.

Then my husband retired, and the subject of my working for pay arose again.  Now, keep in mind that I’m now 63 years old, so jobs aren’t going to be plentiful to begin with, but having proved myself and my skills, I went to Fr. Count and said, “We really need to do something about this funding now.”  And he agreed.

Of course, the Council shot it down at first, and Father really pushed.  Then he suggested that if the position weren’t funded at the beginning of the year, I should just step down and force the Council’s hand.  At the last Council meeting of the year, he made a strong case for needing a position created for a secretary, and mentioned that there was another woman in the parish who could be approached for the job, if the position were funded.

They voted to fund the position.  And install the other woman.

I’m not sure who I’m more furious with:  Father, for slicking me out of a job; the Council, for being such a collection of oafs that they would take on a woman who may not even have secretarial skills, for all we know (but hey, she has all the skills she needs — SHE’S GREEK!!!); or myself, for letting this happen to me again.  Mostly, I suspect, with myself.  I feel like such a fool.

At the moment, my chief concern is whether or not I should ask for the return of a set of Menaia I donated to the parish last year, fully expecting that I would be able to use them as needed.  They aren’t even Greek Menaia; they’re from the St. John of Kronstadt Press, the only English-language set I could buy “on time,” as it were, one book a month.  I could use those Menaia in preparing the Choir Cues, but it smacks of giving with one hand and taking with the other.  On the other hand, I was promised a salary that never materialized, and I was donating financially to the church, as well as the donation of time, and the donation of the Menaia.

And there is the question of jurisdiction.  My sympathies have always been with the Church Abroad, and having lost my job as a secretary in a Greek parish frees me up to rejoin ROCOR.  But my husband, who is finally beginning to consider becoming Orthodox, is more comfortable with a Greek priest whom we know  (not Fr. Count).

Time to figure out how to pray an Akathist.  Greeks aren’t big on Akathisty, except for the one during Great Lent.  I need some help from St. Xenia on this one.

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