My daughter had just begun kindergarten at the Immaculate Conception Elementary School in Schenectady, in upstate New York. Apart from the small icon of the Madonna delle Lacrime of Syracuse (Sicily, not New York) hanging above her bed that my mother had given her, this was Emily’s first formal encounter with the mysteries of Catholicism. A few weeks into the school year, visible signs of devotion began to emerge, especially at dinnertime, when Emily would solemnly cross herself before eating and recite: “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Mother.” Pleasantly surprised to learn that the Catholic Church had finally made room for the Mother in the divine hierarchy, I did not question her; I simply smiled at this welcome change in the prayer imprinted in my childhood memories. A few weeks later, though, I was disabused of my illusion. Emily switched to the orthodox formula: “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” When I asked her, “Whatever happened to the Mother?” her sour answer was: “Oh, mommy, she was a mistake!”
KeywordsMaterial Culture Domestic Space Tomato Sauce Autobiographical Narrative Literary Person
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