Fixing Jesus

In a corner of my bedroom, I  found Jesus under a pile of socks.

In a corner of my bedroom, I found Jesus under a pile of socks.

Jesus is in trouble. Ever since my father’s house sold last year, he’s been in limbo. I just found my mother’s treasured 8×10 of him in a corner of my bedroom buried under a pile of partnerless socks. When I moved the sock pile, I discovered my mom’s glow in the dark rosary beads and a St. Anthony plaque laying on top of him. I claimed them all in a moment of nostalgic passion this summer and now I feel guilty I forgot them. My mother would murder me if she was here.

She absolutely loved Jesus and said she would have been a nun, but went on a retreat once and made a grim discovery. She said, “All a dey ate was a datta damma oat-a-meal, morning, a noon anna night, and I said, ‘Dis issa shitta for da birds.’”

I think the Catholic Church dodged a bullet with that decision.

Jesus close with no rosary

The 8×10 my mom won at Idora Park.

But she never lost her fervor for Catholicism, and proof was the number of religious icons in our house. That number multiplied after she and my Aunt Blanche won identical 8 x 10’s of Jesus at our school picnic at Idora Park when I was 9.

Jesus is surrounded by a large gilt frame with a light bulb at the top. It’s one of those photos where his eyes look heavenward and when the light is on he looks quite celestial. The first home she gave him was on the sewing machine she won at Sears. (She tried sewing, but made a couple of outfits that looked like something Ku Klux Klan members would wear, so the sewing machine went into an early retirement.)

Fran at Sewing machine

At home on the sewing machine, some saints hidden by flowers.

She added a giant glow in the dark rosary and wrapped it around the frame. At least if she ever had to pray on a pitch-black night, she would be prepared.

Soon Jesus was accompanied by a procession of saints, and family photos, all in a specific order, which wasn’t a problem until you needed to sew. If you didn’t put all the statues and photos back exactly the way she had them, you’d hear an admonishing, “Jesus don’d a like itta wenna you do datta!”

Then she demanded that, every morning we turn on the light above him, and say, “Good morning Jesus.” Every evening we had to turn off the light and say, “Good night Jesus.” We kept forgetting, which was a great disappointment to her, so she just kept the light on day and night and switched lightbulbs, when necessary.

Jesus became her companion and therapist. When she was upset, you could hear her talking to him:   “Jesus, ha comma my stingin a husband donda a wanna take a me anywhere? Talk a some a sense eento heem OK? Imma sake anna tired offa dis!”

The tiny TV of the saints.

The tiny TV of the saints.

You couldn’t walk into a room without bumping into a Jesus, a Blessed Virgin or a saint somebody. She had an amazing collection. Once a friend of mine and I counted, just the icons in the kitchen and dining room, and came up with 40. I’ve seen churches with less.

My favorite, which I still have, is her tiny, two-sided plastic TV of the saints with slides inside. If you hold it up and look at one side you get The Infant of Prague, when you flip it over, you get St. Anthony. If you flip it again, St. Theresa replaces the Infant of Prague.  I love it!

More room to spread out.

More room to spread out.

Once Jesus and his entourage became too large, Mom moved them to the top of the old cabinet television. My parents never got rid of furniture; they just repurposed it. The cabinet TV got moved into the dining room giving Jesus more real estate, so he and the saints could spread out.  He stayed in the dining room, blessing every meal for almost 50 years.

So, of course I had to find an appropriate home for him and a few others in my house.  How could I not?

My father's duct tape repairs.

My father’s duct tape repairs.

But Jesus needed repairs.  After 50 years, the backing on the 8×10 was toast. My dad tried to fix it with duct tape — see photo. His motto was:  “Why spend money on a something new when you can fix the old one?”  As he aged, duct tape became his go-to repair tool. He kept it in his dresser drawer. He would rather spend five to seven dollars on a roll of duct tape than the two fifty it would have cost for new backing.

Once he accidentally poked a hole in the fake wood paneling of the bedroom I was staying in and quickly repaired it with silver duct tape. He smiled and said, “There, doesn’t that look better?”  My daughter taped a picture of the Beatles over it, to hide his handiwork.

The girl at Aaron Brothers actually took a photo of Dad’s repairs, she thought it was so funny.

So, my mission today was to fix Jesus and give him a proper home.  I almost put him in my bedroom, but realized that could get uncomfortable if I ever get lucky, plus there was no electric outlet in a good spot, so I opted for the hallway.  I cleaned his plastic cover, put the new backing on, wiped the gilt frame, put one of my mom’s doilies on the tiny wooden table, sat him down and turned the switch.

Jesus Close up

Jesus lighting up my hallway…I think he needs more room.

I felt better  immediately.  Then I realized, I’d forgotten the glow in the dark rosary beads.  So, I ran and got them and added St. Anthony too.  Then I touched the frame that my mom touched so many times and looked at Jesus, her therapist, and realized he made my apartment feel a little more like home.

But now I’m thinking he may need a bigger space — maybe a sewing machine.

20 thoughts on “Fixing Jesus

  1. Fran, I just re-read this one & I think it’s one of your BEST along the one about The Price is Right story & Bob Barker. It makes me smile & laugh every time. Of course my friend Chris P. loved it too, which I told you. These are gems.

    • Thanks Mare. I love it too, it was such fun to write. I just bought new bulbs for Jesus because the one I put in all those months ago finally died. He lights up my hallway every night. Glad you enjoyed it, even the second time!

  2. So how’s the Jesus corner coming along Fran? I re-read this & it always puts a smile on your face. Keep pluggin’ . . . . . . . He’s right there with ya 😉

  3. Good job Fran! Thank you for fixing Jesus. I remember the Idora Park trip well. My mom still has the same picture of Jesus in her bedroom.

  4. I love that Mamma Tunno wouldn’t become a nun over the oatmeal! That’s a my kind’a Italian. Although, you mom might have changed some lives if she were the “mother” of the convent kitchen! Spectacular post, Frenzie, as always. George, my grandparents also recited the entire rosary after dinner every night. It was too much for me, but it really seemed to get them through a lot of tough times…

  5. Love all your posts, you are witty, and bring up so many beautiful memories and stories about your mom. Thank you, keep them coming ! Love & Hugs, JoAnn

  6. Fran,
    I must say, Jesus looks great. It surprises me some that you put it up. I am sure Mom, AND Jesus are glad to know you are honoring Him

  7. Thanks George, I hear ya. The stations of the cross on Good Friday about killed me, but every night would have done me in. I get it. You’ll be pleased to know my mom’s favorite Saint was St. Anthony. Glad you enjoyed the post, and thanks, as always for reading!

  8. OK, Fran – – I may as well admit this. I am a Recovering-Catholic. My middle name is Anthony – – but that is another story.
    As for your Mom’s twice-a-day salute to the Jesus icon, I would have rather done that than the once-a-night reciting of the ENTIRE Rosary, along with the ENTIRE Litany to the Blessed-Virgin, etc. (I don’t miss those family-get-togethers, but then my Mom was not Italian). Cute column.
    George Anthony Maupin

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