Life at Bat/Cheri Laser 2
fifty yards of black wool material draping her from neck to toe
dashed around the softballdiamond, with that veil flying out behind her as if she were about to lift off.As she ran, she took theatrical care to slow down three times so she could slam her footon each of the bases before finally heading across home plate. Occasionally, she would evenorchestrate a jaw-dropping slide into her final scoring move.
She was spectacular!
After demonstrating her technique once or twice, she would then focus her energy ontransferring those skills to us, a task both endless and fruitless at the same time. But we nevergave up trying, and she never lost hope, and at the end of second grade, she gave each of us abaseball bat charm engraved with
and the words
The next year we got another one with the date changed to
and, once I understood thepattern, I could hardly wait for each new
Yes, I loved Sister Veronica. I wanted to
Sister Veronica. But somewhere in themiddle of my fifth-grade year, substitute nuns started showing up for class each morning. Thisrotation went on for a couple of weeks before Mother Superior finally came into our room toaddress us. Mother Superior was the chief nun at Blessed Sacrament School, plus she was a veryscary person and, as far as we could tell, that was her full and only name, which, we were
certain, she’d been allowed to
give to herself.
At any rate, on the morning I’ll
never forget,Mother Superior told us that Sister Veronica had been stricken with some mysterious dreadfulillness.
asked me to tell you that she’ll be back soon,” Mother Superior announced with
her usual pinched face,
and she wants you to study hard. She also said that you shouldremember to
I presume means your work for the Spelling Bee.”
We nodded obediently, but we all knew
what “practice” really meant
, although none of us could envision playing softball again without our Sister Veronica. Since
us thecoded message, however, we convened on the field every day at recess, doing our best to find herspirit and to make the ball come into contact with either a bat or a glove, whichever was mostappropriate at the moment. All the while, we kept waiting for her to return, but the truth is thatwe never saw or heard from her again. I prayed for her and lit candles for her each day overmany months
and, while nothing was ever the same after she was gone, my commitment topursuing a religious vocation grew stronger through her sainted, inspirational memory.Consequently, chances are extremely good that I would have, indeed, become a nun, if Sister Marie Dolores had not arrived as our new permanent teacher. For starters, she was the firstwoman I ever knew who had a mustache and, without realizing what she was doing, she gave
rise to the term “hostile environment” a full three decades ahead of
schedule. Also, our parentsapparently believed that she was even scarier than Mother Superior, and there were rumors that
someone’s dad had actually
started a fight with her at the convent door, after learning that hischild had been held in solitary confinement all day.Of course, the solitary confinement punishments created by Sister Marie Dolores weresecret and were never to be discussed outside of school, a fact that she had methodically drilledinto us. So, if the rumors were true about one of the dads mixing things up with her, we werepretty sure that the dad
s child was headed straight to hell for
breaching Sister’s oath of
confidentiality by telling a parent.
We weren’t sure
to think, though, when Sister showed up in class one morningwearing sunglasses. At first we were distracted, because the sides of her glasses frames, whichwould normally be curved over a set of ears, were just suspended against the outside of her veil,not curved over
, and somehow balancing there without falling off.