Sunday, May 14, 2017

Thanks, Mom

She came to this country from Scotland to join with her already-arrived parents during Germany's torpedo war against merchant shipping, traveling alone on a passenger ship in the North Atlantic.  She was 14. She became the first woman in her family to graduate from college; then from graduate school.

As a teacher, she taught mainstream students and then, up until her 85th year, those judged "at risk" who would come to her classroom wearing court-mandated electronic ankle bracelets.

She made me go to church every Sunday, even after I was confirmed, and saw to it I became an acolyte who knew what he was doing.  When I was five, she made sure I learned how to swim at the local Y; then made sure, summer after summer, that we went down to the sea.  Jesus and Surf have been the twin themes of my life because of her.

She taught me how to fight for one's students and against impassive bureaucracies, as I watched her do when she was involved in local politics.  She was 4 feet, 11 inches of Celtic iron. To this day, whenever I find myself encountering some diocesan or academic martinet I think, "Do you really want to mess with me? I'm Mary Clements' son."