Monday, January 05, 2009


There was a lovely little story on the editorial page of today’s Globe, recounting the author’s memory of seeing one of his schoolteachers — a Sister of Mercy, in full habit — skating on the school’s frozen playground. I was charmed by the image, and when I read that she wasn’t Sister Charles, as the author had thought, but Sister Gregory, I had to smile. There’s a Sister Gregory at the elderly apartments next door, and that sounds just like her — could it possibly be the same person?

It is. Really, how could I have expected otherwise? This is the Sister Gregory who taught her shaggy little black dog all kinds of tricks, culminating in “say your prayers.” At that command, the dog would put her paws up on Sister Gregory’s lap and lay her head between them — and then peep out from under her bushy eyebrows, bright brown eyes waiting for the praise to follow. Lisa and Vixen used to run into them fairly regularly, and had the kind of dog-connected acquaintanceship that one develops.

The dog, alas, is gone, so I don’t see Sister Gregory very much any more. Lisa ran into her a couple of times after that, expressed sympathy, and told her about the cancer diagnosis, and Sister Gregory was both sympathetic and heartening, promising her prayers. After Lisa died, she stopped me to say that she was sorry, and that she hoped I was bearing up. That particular day, it was exactly the degree of sympathy that I needed — that I could handle — and I was grateful for the kindness, and for her sensitivity in knowing what to say.

According to the article, she’s 84 now, and only just retired, though she remains active in STOP, Sisters Together Opposing Poverty. I’m lucky to have her for a neighbor.