Archive for August, 2006


// August 2nd, 2006 // No Comments » // writing

My mother made us lunch every day before school and put it in a paper bag for us to take with us. She’d take care to make our favorite sandwiches, cut to perfection better than a deli, piled high with lettuce, tomato and dressing. She’d wrap this up in plastic. Then my Mom would take an apple, peach or pear and place it wrapped in a paper towel. Invariably, we would grab this bag without looking and upend the contents so that by the time lunch came, the sandwich would have an
exact crater made by the fruit. This was our own fault and we knew it.

We’d also get some homemade cookies and a personal note. I’d try to read this note ahead of time and pocket it because a note from your Mom at lunch was good for at least a few hours of good-natured teasing. I got picked on a lot as it was… I didn’t need to give them reasons.

One day, I was in a hurry to get to my ride. Sometimes my grandfather, Pa, picked us up early to get to school. Other times we’d walk to a bus. But invariably, we were late leaving the house, our shirts not tucked in, our ties still not tied. We were trailing homework from our books and had to grab various things on the way, a book, our coats, our shoes. It was almost a reverse circuit of the house that we had made the previous afternoon. Clever detectives could probably deduce how old each child was and often how badly they had to go to the bathroom, because the trail would end there.

In such a hurry, I grabbed the bag on the counter. “Don’t forget your lunch, my Mom called from the front door. She’d hold it open and kiss us all good-bye on the way out. It was a safer way of making sure she’d gotten each child, kissed them good-bye, wished them a good day, blessed them with a sign of the cross on their forehead. My parents gave
communion each Sunday at church and it carried over through the week. She could also quickly administer any first-aid on the way out, because she was the resident doctor of the house, as well.

If anyone sneezed or coughed on the way out, it was also an excuse to lift their heads and check down their throat for redness. My mother would ask us to tilt our heads back and say, “Aaaaaah!” which was almost automatic, because she’d tilt it for us and we’d react in stunned surprise. It was almost as if she wanted to sneak up on the germs and
surprise them out of our bodies. It certainly caught us by surprise. Finding nothing, she’d send us on our way, off to wreak havoc outside of the house.

When I finally got to school, my friend, Kevin was there. He lived down the street from me and his parents and mine were friends. I saw that he had a lunch bag similar to mine. I said, “Did your Mom make your lunch, too?”

He said, “No, Danny, this is your lunch. Your Mom gave it to me to give to you.”

“But I already have my lunch! See?” I held up my bag which had gotten nice and soft at the top, very pliable, the way I liked it. Some people like their lunch bags stiff and unblemished, but I think it’s easier to carry this way. And if you’re a nervous kid, it’s a great thing to grab and crush when something uncertain wakes you up in the morning before
you’re ready.

“Your Mom gave me yours. She said that you took a bag of peaches.”

“I- what?” I opened the bag and started laughing with Kevin. Inside the bag were five peaches… not my lunch, which I’d been expecting.

I thanked Kevin and laughed again as he ran to his locker. Then I stared at the peaches in my hand. I thought about my Mom, not only making lunch, saying goodbye, blessing me and checking my throat… but also somehow getting my lunch to Kevin down the street before he went to school. I thought about the note in my lunch bag, the real one. I wanted
to well up with tears and bawl. There were 5 peaches in this bag and there were 5 of us besides my Mom. She bought peaches for everyone in the house but her. I have to take these home. I’m going to fail the family if I don’t get these peaches home!

When I got home, my Mom and I had a long laugh over my taking the peaches to school with me. Then we laughed even harder when I told her I brought them home again. She said that I was silly that I should have shared them with my friends. She pulled out another paper bag and there were 5 more peaches in the bag. It took a long time to stop laughing
long enough to eat them!