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The Madonna in my family

The Madonna in my family

Madonna and child
Stonewall Thomas

My extended family didn't get together very much, so while growing up I never knew them all that well... except a few who were around quite a bit. My mother's brother, Virgil, and his wife were two people that I rarely saw, but my mother would talk about them all the time so I was very familiar in that way. Family gatherings were at my grandmother's house quite often, and that's where I'd see them. His wife was named Eleanor.

So there was something strange that I never questioned my entire life until recently. When my mother would refer to Eleanor, she always called her virgin Eleanor. I never thought it was weird for some reason. Growing up in Catholic school, I learned what a virgin was at a young age because we learned about the virgin Mary. So doing the math, I understood that Eleanor could have children without having sex. I guessed that some people were just like that... who knows? When you're a little kid you don't really understand how the world works, much less the uterus. I wasn't sure why she was married then, but the virgin Mary was married also.

I carried that around my whole life and never gave it much thought until a few years ago. I knew another guy named Virgil (like my mom's brother) and was around him quite a bit. That's when I heard something that blew my mind. "I'm going to Applebee's with Virge and Michael, do you want to come with us?" I replied, "Did you just call Michael a virgin?" "No, haha... VIRGIL (Virge) and Michael." I must have had the most insane look on my face. Everything just snapped right into place. I never felt so stupid in my whole life. Ok, that's an exaggeration... I've felt plenty stupid many other times.

So my aunt Eleanor wasn't a virgin after all. It's hard to believe that I went until I was like 35 years old thinking that my mother was calling Eleanor a virgin. But hey, who am I to judge?

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