Yesterday I posted the eulogy I gave for my Mom, who passed away last Friday. I told stories about my Mom that I hoped would give people a sense of who she was. However, there was one story I left out, since I did not think it would be appropriate to be talking about the occult during a Catholic mass.
But it is a story that gets to the heart of who my Mom was.
When I was about 9 or 10 years old, and my two sisters were slightly older, we got a Ouija board as a gift. As I vaguely recall, they were quite a popular item at the time.
The basic idea behind a Ouija board is that you ask a question, and then a group of people place their hands on top of a triangular shaped device (known as a planchette) and the planchette then allegedly moves around the board under its own power, spelling out the answer to the question.
We couldn’t wait to try it out with the other kids in the neighborhood. We would ask it questions like “What girl likes me” or “Will I be rich some day” or “Will I get a 100 on my math test the next day”.
After we asked each question, we would then wait for the planchette to start moving. Inevitably, it would start moving each time. But even at my young age, I knew it was being pushed around by the people taking part. It was fun and stupid at the same time.
However, a few days after we got it, my Mom watched us using it, or rather heard us using it. Inevitably there were disagreements over the answers, accusations about who was pushing the planchette, and an ever escalating series of questions to ask the Ouija board that would start to border on the risque.
She then decided she wanted to try it, and after asking it a couple of questions, she reached the conclusion that it wasn’t really a mystical, fortune telling device, and that we were pushing the planchette around.
She then said she was going to return it to the store. We were all disappointed, but also curious as to what argument my mom would use for returning a used game.
So we went with her to the store, and proceeded to watch our Mom tell the clerk that she wanted to return the Ouija board because it didn’t work. I think the clerk at first thought she was joking, but as he listened more to this woman with the Irish brogue explain that the planchette didn’t move by itself, but that people had to push it themselves, and so it must be broken, he realized she was serious. I think he also realized it would be fruitless to try and argue with her, so he gladly gave her a refund for the Ouija board.
I’ve always thought this was analogous to returning a rabbit’s foot keychain or healing crystals. It takes a certain confidence to return such items with the excuse that they don’t work.
It taught me that my Mom would do whatever she thought was right for her kids; it was nice knowing that she always had our back. It also taught us that there was no point arguing with our Mom.
So while we didn’t have the Ouija board for long, it left an indelible impression on me.
I’m also starting to question its prediction that I would be President of the U.S. someday…