So. I keep in mind a Christmas Eve with my father. It was about 48-50 years in the past and we have been at midnight Mass at St. Gregory’s. We have been within the huge, upstairs church with its excessive, cathedral ceiling and its intricate, ornate alter and acres of stained-glass. My mom and Leonard weren’t with us. Leonard was an alter boy and doubtless needed to serve one of many Christmas Day Lots. There have been six monks in these days. Numerous Lots. Numerous alter boys. Numerous parishioners. Numerous cash.
This might have been across the time that my father stopped ingesting. His youthful brother, our Uncle Joey, was in AA and was serving to my father. Uncle Joey was round our house in Dorchester quite a bit at the moment. The change in my father and in our lives was like a miracle; however greater than a miracle as a result of it was actual and occurring to us and the 4 of us have been saved.
As a part of his change, my father had gotten energetic within the Holy Title Society. He would finally grow to be its treasurer. He would go on retreats with the Jesuits, too. The three of us would drive him there after work Friday and decide him up Sunday. Someplace, I nonetheless have one of many little S.O.J. lapel pins that he would deliver house from these retreats. They have been little. black pins formed like a tear drop.
This was all very unusual and sudden. I don’t recall the change being mentioned, but it surely was fantastic. I keep in mind so properly the sense of aid, of rigidity’s fist gone from my 11-year-old intestine. I should have feared that he would slip. He by no means did. I watched very fastidiously. As soon as, when he and my mom have been arguing, I took a bottle of whiskey, ran out to the yard and emptied it onto the grass. I by no means noticed him take one other drink, not even throughout the horrible, final days of most cancers.
However, anyway…the church was stuffed that Christmas Eve. Males and late-comers stood within the rear. Seats got to girls and youngsters, like on lifeboats. It was pretty. The church was ablaze in gentle and candles with crimson flowers and crimson vestments. The ladies and women have been all pretty, younger and outdated. Incense and music and Latin stuffed the air. The choir sang in Latin and English. All of us sang “Silent Evening” (my favourite) and different carols.
My father and I have been on the left aspect,. not fairly midway down. Throughout Mass, I heard noises on the rear. I had the aisle seat and circled. A person had are available in late. He wore a hat which he had simply taken off, a swimsuit and tie and a prime coat (camel-hair, thoughts you, not the belted, Bogart sort) which all correct males and boys wore to church. He had the crimson, flushed face and bleary eyes that terrified us. He was older than my father, stocky and shorter. I tended to measure males by my father who was six toes and trim at that age.
The person blessed himself with Holy Water and was speaking to nobody particularly. As I watched, extremely, he took up the small Holy Water font and started ingesting from it, utilizing each fingers! I whispered to my father, who was trying ahead as a correct Catholic ought to. My father simply motioned for me to look ahead and take note of the Mass.
I’ve puzzled through the years what my father may need been pondering of that poor soul, determined, drunk and so alone in church on Christmas Eve and making a spectacle of himself. (There are worse locations to be whenever you’re drunk, I suppose). I do know what I used to be pondering, what I nonetheless assume.
Now, I ponder about that man. I hope that that Christmas Eve was step one towards his personal restoration and salvation. He probably had a household, too.
After my father stop ingesting, we by no means spoke of it. We by no means spoke of ingesting or the epidemic of alcoholism that has destroyed so many Joyces (and different kin) over the generations. Christ, that was a horrible mistake, the silence, earlier than, throughout and after. No warnings got to us. However, that’s one other story.
I miss my father and I’m grateful to him for sobering up and saving our lives. I miss occasions like that too; the excessive Midnight Lots of Christmas Eve with its lights and colours, good cheer, the smells of incense and candles, the texture of group and the sounds of mates and neighbors, music, songs and Latin. It is a very glad reminiscence of my childhood, of forgiveness and of 1 man’s salvation, or maybe two.
Kevin Coleman Joyce is a Randolph resident.