We always counted on mom

Things didn’t vary much on Sunday mornings when I was a kid. We were always late for Sunday school. Mom and Dad loved to play cards with friends very late on Saturday nights, so Mom would invariably shut off the alarm on Sunday morning and fall back to sleep for a few too many extra winks. As a result, it was a mad dash for us to get into the Chevy and be on our way across town to Emmanuel Lutheran Church for Sunday school classes.

So, there was Mom, with her housecoat hastily pulled on over her nightgown, and bedroom slippers flapping; my sister, with her Sunday outfit on and self-reliantly ready; and me, with my shirt crookedly buttoned and man-style elastic suspenders all twisted, rushing to pile into the car.

Mom would pull out the choke and step on the starter. The reluctant Chevy would stumble to life. It would hack and spit as Mom slipped the clutch to keep it running as she backed down the driveway. She would lean out of the open driver’s door to see where she was going because we didn’t have time to clear the small back window.

We raced down Woodland to Elm with the Chevy bucking along in protest because Mom would leave the choke on too long. The smell of raw gasoline permeated the car’s interior.

In order to avoid the red light at Elm and High and buy a little time, she would careen through the closed-for-Sunday corner gas station while running over the hose that set off the bell. (In those days there was no right turn on red.)

When we finally got to the church, Mom would drop my sister and me off, and then speed off to get back home in order to make sure Dad was up and to get dressed for church.

The Sunday school opening ceremonies were always over by the time we descended the steps into the basement of the church where Sunday school classes had already started. I usually forgot my offering, but I was always able to grab a few wax paper-wrapped Walnettos before we left home. That was breakfast — unless my sister and I had gotten up just a little bit earlier for a cup of warmed-up stale coffee, and toast and jam to dunk into it.

This was Mom. She was never the master of efficiency or punctuality, but at least she got us to Sunday school. Of course, Mom had many virtues. For Mother’s Day she made sure that each of us had carnations to wear. Mom, my sister, and I wore red carnations, but sadly, later on, Dad wore a white one to indicate that his mom had passed.

Often, rather than squirm through church services while trying to pay attention to the sermon by the Rev. Rush, my sister and I would ride the bus home. When we got home, sometimes we would open the door and say, “Hello, little house!” I wonder who would have stampeded over whom if we had gotten an answer.

My sister, always the responsible one, would open the oven door to check on whatever was in there for Sunday dinner. We would change out of our Sunday best, maybe make our beds, and spread the funnies on the living room floor. My sister would read to me the cartoons she liked while we waited for Mom and Dad to come home.

I was never tardy, though, at getting to grade school because there were no card games on week nights, and I always had my trusty bike to get me there. But Mom never did get her act together well enough to “get me to the church on time.”

Golly, I almost feel that I could burst into song …

Mumford, of Warren, can be reached at columns@tribtoday.com

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