Today is my (may she rest in peace) godmother’s birthday. My mother’s oldest sister, affectionately known as Auntie Boo-Boo, was a stout, age-spotted, witty, and occasional potty-mouth whom I loved with all my heart. She’s gone now, but her tips on how to live a proper life are forever etched into my memory. She doled advice like Niagara Falls doles out water. “Don’t help yourself to candy that isn’t offered.” “Quit walking so heavy; you sound like a cow.” “It’s none of your business why I’m not going to Communion.” “You don’t need a shower, just do a PTA.” My nine-year-old face must have revealed something because she followed up with the body parts to correspond with each letter. I’ll put what she said in polite terms: “Wash the stinky parts only.” And then there’s the remedy she offered in 1978 to my then shy boyfriend (now husband): “I see you’re trying to grow a mustache, John. I know what you need.” She took her index finger and rubbed the space between her nose and upper lip. “Put some chicken sh&% on it.”
So on her birthday, I kicked off my blog “Pen for Posterity.” I write for others, especially my bloodline. I would give my eye-teeth to have stories from my parents and grandparents and older brothers and sisters. One of my deepest regrets is not staying around at university to get from my Roaring Twenties professor the paper I wrote on, well, The Roaring Twenties. We had to interview a person who had lived in the 1920’s, and I interviewed my father who was born in 1912. He would have come to both the age of reason and near adulthood in that decade.
His father had owned a restaurant and little market, from what I can remember. My grandfather fed a lot of people, putting what they owed him into a handwritten ledger. He had told them they could pay him later but, of course, they never did. I learned one thing from that story: be generous. Anything we have comes by way of God to be used to help others come to know Him. My grandfather was a good grade of something protestant, but his philosophy meshes well with my Catholic faith.
So while I can never get back that paper typed on a crappy electric typewriter in 1979, I can pen for my own posterity. And I pray I won’t have any regrets about it, like I still do some forty-plus years later about not picking up that grade A paper.