About the author
Renée Hankins of Kettering is a Dayton native and licensed massage therapist.
“Almost a Saint”
I almost became a saint in the fifth grade. A personal goal, I devoutly prayed that I would be the one reason the Pope, that holiest of holy men who spoke words from God’s mouth, would pack his popely robes and travel to Ohio. He would put off saying mass for a month as he made his way to Ohio and in awe of my saintliness.
Because it was natural to think of myself, at that age, as a sacrificial lamb for the Catholic faith — the one true faith in all the universe — I shook off the opportunity to meet the Pope upon his arrival as a mere trivial matter. After all, a child of God as I was, pure of spirit and innocent of any blemishes, it would be impossible for me to have the honor of speaking with his Holiness since all saints were bonded to death and therefore could never meet earthly superstars. Saints were enamored with dying. I was enamored with the popularity sainthood had to offer.
I practiced the art of looking upon my school chums as mere useless mortals during recess. I silently pardoned their snotty-assed behaviors, praying that I would not have to embarrass them with a minor miracle in their behalf. It was hard work, but I was cut out for the training. I had mousy brown hair too weak to hold a curl yet, I welcomed such crappy locks as the price for becoming a saint. Barbara Jean Pancake, the only girl in fifth grade with obedient hair, would brush herself bald with envy once I became a saint.
When the principle came into our classroom to hand out our report cards, she would sob over the paltry choice of holy cards she had on hand. Once I became a saint, she would hand out only my card - the one card all children would genuflect to receive.
“Remember, children, God especially loves even the plainest looking ones,” she would say as she dealt out my little mug shot to the undeserving brutes at St. Vinnie in Chains school.
I was a chubbly little candidate, slow witted, and full of ego but I promised God I would gladly give this all up if he picked me as a child saint. I studied the catechism lessons, prayed the rosary with fervor, and confessed sins that weren’t even mine - all in the glow of wanting to be hand picked as a holy, to be famous-ever-after, child of God’s devout realm of saintdom.
Mom and Dad didn’t know how close to the alter I had come to accepting the mantle of the Church’s hunt for fresh sacrificial offerings. I forgave them of their blind attitudes. After all, parents were never expected to be let into heaven on their own merits. And mine would only moan my loss because I was their best little cleaner upper in the family.
“What with the rest of them heathens we got runnin about our house, we ain’t got much time to mourn or nothin,” they’d bleat.
After months of diligent kneeling in the monotonous, mind-numbing hours of daily masses and from singing flat-toned deliveries of the square-noted Gregorian chant, the choice to become a saint came to a crossroads. It came to that and it came quickly too. Thoughts of what the pre-sainted might have fumbled with riffled through my little soul. Did I want to become the best little saint the Midwest had ever known? Would I welcome being the most joyous little relic for all dull people? Would I be ok with the more gifted minds of the world doubting my accomplishments, murmuring “but she was so simple-minded.” Or, did I want to remain among the mortals, the small-minded goofballs of my day?
I must say that the choice was not hard to make. I knew what I had to do and there was no putting off the necessary action. I had had some words with Jimmy “the big baby” Knobson at recess. He and I had some things to settle before the day was over. I knew if I stepped up to the heavenly throne and let God push me through to saintness, I would miss the chance to beat Jimmy’s sappy ass. Could I miss that sure-fired opportunity in exchange for some minor league looking image of my mug on a holy card? Could I give up that righteous, welt-whipping, wild armed thrashing that Jimmy deserved for some pontifical high mass where the kids and old people would pass out left and right, cursing my saint-hooded membership and their religion?
It was the worst test of temptation I had yet to encounter in my sainthood-a-thon training. Jimmy had wanted me to be his girlfriend. Me, a prime candidate for a glowing halo atop my head for God’s sake. Then the little bastard pressed his squishy lips onto my pooched out, pouty-mouthed look.
“Aaaahhh!” I yelped, spitting as much of his boyness off me as best I could.
“There. I’ve made you my girlfriend,” he said, face beet red and sweaty.
So, the fight was on and the choice was made. How could I enjoin myself to immortality, and stand among the Church’s pious looking saints of the 1400’s when I had to beat up that big baby’s butt?
It went well. The battle and my choice. Jimmy’s momma came down to our fence, wailing to my mom that “your dastardly little urchin put welts all over my little Jimmy. She’s pure evil.” I smiled upon my missed moment for God’s hallowed, select membership. From that bit of time to now, I have refrained from being a party to those seekers of name brand positions. And I don’t regret living among the tatty mortals. However, I do still have a slight halo and can have quite an impact upon those who cross my path. Bless you.