Oh, and I also learned how to clean blood off the ivories. Mother Monica's fingers were so old & dry & cracked, that they actually used to bleed when she was giving me my lesson. She was like in her upper 80's at the time. Sheesh! Guess the Diocese didn't pay for frivolous items like skin cream. They just covered for pervert priests. Wait, did I say that? Ooops, guess I did. My bad?
Actually, Mother Monica was pretty cool as a teacher of history... when she was able to get her memories straight, which wasn't all too often. When she was able to drift off into her own world (which we soon learned to allow), she spoke of Nazi Germany and the many atrocities that they suffered as nuns in that country, during those times. The stories she told were gripping and horrifying and yet, I still don't think that any of us were really able to grasp the horrors that she spoke of. Many girls thought she was just crazy. But I think she would have been a totally brilliant writer, maybe. Had she not chosen to marry God. Had she not had the *calling*.
I believe she was a fiercely brave and intelligent woman. So, I dutifully cleaned the piano keys whenever she happened to bleed on them. I felt that it was my Spiritual Duty. Even though I wasn't Catholic, nor was anyone in the entire history of my family.
Mother Monica had taught my mother piano, only my mother was young and so was Mother Monica and my mother seemingly learned enough to be entertaining at dinner parties. She was good to go. However, I remember something of a rumor about Mother Monica when she had first entered the Order. The scuttlebut was that she had been a gifted concert pianist before comitting to the Ursuline Order. I'm sorry I didn't know her then. However, she sucked as a teacher when I was at Ursuline 40 years later, thank you!
As horrible a thing as this is to say, I was always secretly glad, because that meant my lesson was over. I was a kid, okay? I wanted to chow down. As in hit the *Snack Bar* and all of the emotion soothing junk foods that it offered. Which I never failed to partake in. We're talking a dream come true for a lonely, miserable girl who was far from home. Away from her skis and her mountains and her snow, that she so totally adored. Bring on those Twinkies! By the time I graduated, I was beginning to look suspiciously like a Twinkie, and nothing like the girl who'd had Olympic Dreams just a few years earlier. Thanks Mom! Job well done, as always!
Ursuline closed a couple of years after my class graduated. (I was always secretly worried that it was because of us... our Class of 1970.) But, actually, I think it was just the signs of the times. The changing of the guard. Life goes on. Now, the old dormotories have been restored and converted into a Bed & Breakfast. Another part of the school was bought and turned into an antique shop. There are still weddings held in the Chapel, which is still as beautiful as I remember it. Here is a link to Ursuline:
To be continued…