Today my fabulous sister looked at my mother during the traditional zillion rounds of hotly contested Uno and said, “Hey, Mum, tell the story of how you gave that nun the heart attack.”
“What?” I said. “I haven’t heard this one!”
“I didn’t give a nun a heart attack,” Mum protested. “She was probably going to have it anyway. I was just there when she did.”
As a teenager, my mother attended St Thomas’s High School, a girls-only school attached to the local convent; naturally, many of the teachers were nuns. One day she was returning from PE in a state of dishabille, and was sent out of the classroom for being improperly dressed.
“I didn’t know how she could tell,” Mum said. “She was nearly blind. But anyway, I went outside and put on my tie, and came back in, and she yelled at me again. I thought that she must have known I hadn’t put on my pantyhose. So I did that, and went back in, and she really let loose.”
“Hah!” I said.
“It turned out she was angry because my sleeves were rolled up! I didn’t even know that wasn’t allowed! Anyway, she was calling me a brazen hussy, and then she turned purple, choked, and started to fall. On the way down she grabbed at a statue of the Virgin Mary. I had this split-second decision to make: did I catch the statue, or the nun?”
“Which?” I asked.
“I caught the nun. The statue hit the floor.”
“You’re going to hell,” my fabulous sister said, grinning.
“Is this the same nun who told you that if you were going to enter a convent, you should wait until she was dead?” I inquired.
“Different nun. Anyway, she never came back.”
“You killed her?”
“It wasn’t my fault! And she didn’t die! She was just retired from teaching.”
“All because of your sleeves. Hussy.”