by Ron Cook (AKA - Lev Yeled Ohevi)

For most folks the title J.M.J. may not have a meaning, yet for the 1950’s Baby Boomers who were Catholic, this title had to be at the top of every paper they produced in Catholic school. It may symbolize the depth of the reason we celebrate Fathers this month of June. It may also be a lovely cryptic symbol of why, “we live and move and have our being in this world.”

Or it just may simply be a sweet daily reminder of who we are, and why we are who we are … whether we are Catholic or are we are anyone.

My parents were from the Great Generation. The generation that fought the World War to end all wars. The generation who unquestionably stood for what was right, and against that which was wrong in the world. They sent all their six children to Catholic School (Saint Patrick’s, which was one block from our home). We were altar servers, choir members, and safety
patrol boys at the corner crossings. We were Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Explorer Scouts. There were no “padded” kneelers in church, nor “three-point-landings” as we knelt. We bowed our head when we said the sacred word, or when we passed in front of a priest or nun. We walked single file along the wall when we passed classes in high school. We sat in the hallway against the wall with our heads between our knees during the air-raid drills. It was the Cold War Era.

My father worked six days a week to build and maintain his new excavation business plowing gardens, starting a rubbish and garbage pickup business, and digging drain fields and basements. My mother ran dad’s business books, had, and raised, the children, and ran the house with immaculate perfection. Children were expected to mind the parents without question, do all chores assigned to them, and make their beds as well as clean their rooms daily. Mom made our clothes. She bought our shoes at a discount seconds shoe store in Muir, Michigan (a town twelve miles away). I bought my first set of clothes from Holsey’s downtown in Portland when I was 15 years old. I paid for my first actual haircut that year also. It was the “Princeton,” made popular by Jerry Lewis, the comedian.

In our family our mother was the center or hub of the family. She truly ran the show. She was the engine that turned the wheels of the Cook home. The children were her built-in support system. Dad was her financial and love ally on the other side of the equation. It all had to work together in order to work at all. There was authority, which provided order, which showed care, which gave us all love.

It was J.M.J. … which is Jesus, Mary, Joseph … the Divine/Human setup which is the model for our lives. Amen? Mary in the middle. Jesus and Joseph at her sides. The Holy Family.

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