Can you imagine Catholicism without a Mother Mary?
I asked, "Frank, did you and Mom start going to church?"
"No, I meant we watch on TV."
"You and Mom watch church on television?"
"Yes, every Sunday morning, we watch Mass together."
I don't understand this. I didn't know this was possible. Church on TV? Are there commercials? "Why did you start doing this?"
"Mom wants to. It was her idea."
"I don't know."
I ask a few more questions and ascertain that they started a few months ago, and though I feel touched, I'm also worried. My mother isn't in the best of health and though her mind is as quick as ever, lately her speech has slowed. She has a speech therapist, and her doctors say there's no cause for alarm, but still, I wonder if the TV-church thing means she is worrying.
I'm worrying about her worrying.
If she's worried, then I'll be doubly worried. Maybe triple. If you didn't think you could quadruple-worry, you haven't been a daughter.
Or a mother.
So I tell Frank to put Mother Mary on the phone, which he does. "Mom, do you and Frank really watch church on Sunday mornings?"
"Who wants to know?"
I let that go, because you may remember that Mother Mary always answers a question with a question. "Why are you doing this?"
"Do I have to have a reason?"
"No, but if you have a reason, I'd like to know it."
"Why do you want to know? You have to have a reason for asking me what my reason is."
Now I'm getting confused. "I'm just curious."
"I like it. That's the reason, OK? It makes me feel good. Is that a good enough reason for you?"
Mother Mary snorts. "I'm glad you approve."
I feel heartened. If she's sarcastic, she's fine. "Mom, I have an idea. If you want, Frank can take you to church. I looked it up online and there's a church three miles from your house."
"No, I don't want to go."
"What's it to you?"
"Well, it seems like part of going to church is being part of the community, and you might like it more if you went, instead of watching it on television."
"I don't want to be part of a community."
"But it would be fun, Mom. You can get to know the people, meet the priest, and get out of the house."
"I don't want to meet anybody or get out of the house."
I switch gears. "OK, how about this? I did a little research and I found out that there are ministers from the church who will actually come to your house and visit you, if you want."
"I don't want a minister to visit me."
"Why are you asking me all these questions?" Mother Mary blows her top. "Do you want ministers visiting you? Are you going to church? What community are you part of?"
I sigh inwardly. "OK, fair point. It just seems like it's second-best to watch it on TV."
"Why? What do you watch Sunday mornings?"
" Meet the Press."
"Why do you watch that?"
Mother Mary snorts again. "You want to know what's important? Watch church."
Look for Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella's columns in their newest collection, "Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim." Also, look for Lisa's latest Rosato & Associates novel, "Accused," in stores now.