display | more...

The one time I was honest about my sins in confession was at the age of seven and a half, after I had found a grey kitten with white paws, crying at our back door. I loved it immensely and immediately, as small children do, adding it to my hidden collection in an outbuilding in the backyard, with two orange tomcats my parents had no idea I was harboring.

For two days I loved that kitten, then some neighbors came to our front door on a Sunday after church, my Dad watching sports on a small black and white TV while grading papers, my mother reading her one extravagance, The New York Times. The neighbors said they lost their little grey kitten with white paws and my father asked my older brother and me if we had seen it. I may have blushed, but outright lied anyway and said no.

Come next Friday, we went as a family to the church for confession, my father first so he could stand sentry and see for his own eyes we went into that dark booth. Ordinarily, I concocted sins like disobeying my parents or fighting with my younger sisters who could barely walk and talk yet, but this particular day I actually confessed to stealing someone else's kitten, something I was sure would doom me to purgatory or hell forever. Three commandments broken, stealing, coveting, and something about your neighbors.

The priest was Polish and spoke in a sing-song way even the grownups in the congregation barely understood. My brother and I imitated but admired him at the same time. You would think he might have told me to return the kitten, but I got the standard, "For your penance, you will say three Hail Marys, two Our Fathers, and a Glory Be...", then he added, "go in peace, my child and sin no more."

So I did return the kitten, only to save a teeny black and white one a week later that the old Italian lady three doors down was trying to kill with a rake because she thought it was a rat. I washed its wounds with Phisohex, a green bad-smelling product my father believed was the answer to anything germ related, that and Listerine.

As life would have it, my father got a new teaching job and we moved to New Jersey, the cats staying in Levittown, Long Island. This would became a pattern I followed in relationships with people for many years, love them and save them, then move on.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.