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Holy Water

(by Aimee Lee Ball)

My mother was brought up in a Jewish family, and absolutely considered herself a Jewish woman, but she had an inclusive, generous, small-c catholic attitude about religion (not unlike her small-c catholic taste in music). Before I started attending "Sunday school" at the same synagogue where my mom had gone, she and my dad thought it would be educational for me to experience Roman Catholic services with our French next-door neighbors, Presbyterian church with other neighbors, and a local Friends meeting house (the Quaker movement had a rich history in our state of Pennsylvania, going back to William Penn himself). We joined in the celebrations of any holidays that included friends (small-f) and food.

One year, after my dad had died and our holidays were somewhat in flux, Mom and I were invited to spend Easter weekend at the country home of a friend in upstate New York. Carol was proudly Polish, and an enthusiastic cook. For her Sunday brunch crowd, she made potato and cabbage pierogies from scratch, along with a cake baked in a lamb mold.

On Easter morning, she wanted to attend mass at the church across the road from her house. I stayed back, cheerfully opting for secular tasks like setting the table, but my mom said she would accompany Carol to mass.