My mother was one of the most superstitious people you would ever meet. She was constantly reminding us not to let a black cat walk across our paths, as though we could stop them. Who was going to risk getting their arms shredded to pieces trying to make a cat do anything contrary to their wishes? We just did not let Mama know if it happened, because she would get all scared and would not let us go out to play for days. I have never really understood why a black cat is considered of the devil, but all other color cats are just fine. I seemed to like black cats, maybe because, like me, they tended to be the last one chosen out of their species for friendships. I did not tell Mama that, though.
Once I broke a mirror, and she had me throw salt over my shoulder, or some such nonsense, and she kept a close eye on me for the next few days, afraid that I was going to have bad luck for sure. Of course, considering that we were poorer than a church mouse, I don’t know how she would have known our luck had gotten worse.
I remember the day my mother brought home an Ouija board. I had no idea what it was. I thought that it must have had some kind of strange and deadly power, because Mama warned my sister and me not to go anywhere near it. But, that was was like an open invitation to two inquisitive children, so the first time Mama was away for a long time during the day, we went in search of this mysterious object that Mama was scared would hurt us. How could a board harm us? After all, we played other board games at the community center, and one in particular that I loved was called Sorry, so we did not fear the board.
It’s hard to successfully hide anything when your home only has three rooms and a bathroom. So, it did not take us long to find the thing. We took the pieces out, and my sister, although older, had me handling the pieces. I just now realize that, just in case there was a chance of supernatural harm, my sister made sure it would not be her that was hurt. I am a little slow sometimes, it seems.
We tried so hard to make that thing work, asking all kinds of questions. The little part that was supposed to move and give us answers just stayed still on the board. After a while, it just got boring, as nothing was happening and we could not figure out how to have fun with it. So, we put it back where we found it, and forgot about it, until Mama got it out one day and found that we had been messing with it.
She was so scared that we had unleashed evil forces into the house and that we would never have any good luck ever again. From where I sat, it was obvious that we had not had any good luck so far, but I did not say that to Mama, because she was not afraid to put a whipping on our backsides for what she considered sassy talk. While she did not ever succeed in making me believe that a black cat’s shadow would hurt me, she did manage to make me scared of my own shadow and everything else. I did not learn to drive until I was 50! Forget the black cat, you do not want to cross my path if I am driving a car!
Today, when serendipitous things happen in my life, I do not chalk them up to luck, or when bad things happen, I do not automatically believe that I have done something wrong to bring about a disaster. Instead, I live each day realizing that life happens in unpredictable ways. This last Tuesday, I hesitated to go to the gym, thinking that I just did not want to go out in the heat. But, I felt so strongly that I should go, and wouldn’t you know it, serendipity happened.
As I walked on the treadmill, one of the gym employees came over and spoke to me, and while we were discussing politics, he said something to the lady at the next treadmill, whom I had never seen at the gym. She and I started talking and saw that we were alike in our political views, and, lo and behold, I told her that I was looking for friends my age to do things with now that I am retired, and I have never been brave enough to make the first move on friendships. She was retired also, and we agreed to meet for lunch with a bunch of other retired women educators. What a blessing from God! Now, that I believe in!