As a Catholic I spent six years as an Altar Boy in a small town in North Dakota.
I imagine I helped to buy and marry a fair number of people throughout those years. I also played a lot of chess with the parish priest, Father Myron Schuh.
Father Schuh, if my memory doesn’t fail me, was a Polish priest.
For more Saturday’s than my memory can recall I would go over to his house and play chess with him.
Father Schuh was not a particularly good chess player.
He was good at cheating at chess.
He would make moves in chess that even as a kid who was barely a teenager could understand did not exist in any rule book in any nation in the world.
Well, except maybe in Russia.
Which, surprisingly, at the time, was still the Soviet Union.
Sigh, I am old!
But I digress.
Besides the terrible moral failing he exhibited in chess I think what I found more troubling was the choice of candy he had on hand that he would share with me.
Yes, the name itself screams, “Dear God, Erich, do not put that in your mouth!”
But, I did.
Far too many times I must admit.
It tasted just as bad as it sounds.
I did go online to find out who sells this “candy.”
Yes, you guessed it.
In its description of this vile construction attempting to disguise itself as candy by simply calling itself candy, the Fleet Farm page says it is made with “…100% natural horehound herb tea.” and “Brewed & steeped in copper kettles to enhance the horehound flavor”
I nearly laughed out loud.
To “…enhance the horehound flavor?”
Why would one want to enhance the flavor of something that tastes like pure evil?
Horehound just sounds dirty and inappropriate.
When I first told my kids about the candy they told their Mom I was saying bad things.
My wife has heard me say worse things over the years.
However, because I love her, I never asked her to have a Horehound candy.
The word itself doesn’t roll of your tongue, either.
Your mouth wants to say “Horeshound.”
If you did you would be saying it wrong.
I remember odd things in my life like a chess cheating polish priest giving me crappy candy behind a smile that said, “Yes, of course the pawn can make several moves at once when confronted by your next move being checkmate.”
I recall the sad masses when the old and young were laid to their rest and the joy and celebration of those who came together in the small little steeple of St. Anthony Catholic Church in Fairmount, North Dakota.
I share with my kids the stories of my brother and I eating the unconsecrated hosts in the sacristy out of bags.
I am certain that act alone preordains my destiny at the time of my demise.
My kids are pretty sure I am doomed, as well, as they look at me and shake their heads with sadness that their Dad would do such things.
Perhaps the thing that makes my kids – and my wife – shake their head the most is when I tell them how much it annoyed Father Schuh when I would not push the three doorbell buttons at the same time during mass.
Much to the dismay and annoyance of Father Schuh, instead of one lovely sound of three bells coming together at once it would sound like three different houses having their door bells rung seconds apart.
My Daughter simply asks, “Why would you do that?”
Forty years later I don’t have a good answer.
This morning I woke up to the sound of that same Daughter hacking up a lung. Across the room, I saw the Dude sleeping contentedly. Somewhere in the living room of my Sister-in-Law’s home my wife was fitfully sleeping in between the hacks of my Daughter.
I slid out of bed and gave my Daughter some cough medicine and pulled her alongside me on the couch to help her get back to sleep.
She is, of course, “Not tired.” and refused to fall back asleep.
My Daughter is now next to my feet, my son on the mattress in front of me, and my wife not far away hoping to catch a couple more winks before we get up and go to the Packers vs. Vikings game at Lambeau Field.
I don’t know why these moments arise that bring me from this moment back to moments 40 years ago, and back again.
Maybe it’s because in this journey I have been on everything happened so something else could happen.
It is the ordinariness of this morning’s moment that causes me to close my eyes a little bit and smile and remember faraway places and faraway times.
I like taking these trips back to my life past from time to time. It reminds me to embrace every moment of the good, the bad and the ugly that makes up the very essence of my time here on Earth.
But, I like to come back to where I am. Right at this moment. With these people I love in the time I want to be in.
(P.S. – Horehound is not candy. Don’t eat it. Even if Santa leaves you some. If he did, you obviously did something bad this year!)