I can only hope they will permanently change the city's name

Well, hello.  I'm coming to you live from the Pope's home away from Rome.

I wish I could take credit for the catchy "home away from Rome" slogan but I have to give the credit to local government who has put it on their website and every billboard in the area.

However, I do have tons of other papal puns and no audience for them because I'm the only member of my family who stayed in the Pope's home away from Rome this weekend.  Work was closed for my parents and Matt on Friday, so they all fled to the Jersey shore to escape the projected chaos in Philadelphia, and I'm still here holding down the fort and watching my parents' dog and bird.

Just when you thought my life couldn't get more glamorous.

In the end, the projected chaos didn't come to pass.  I had a meeting scheduled for late Friday afternoon about 25 miles from here, and I considered just calling in because I was anticipating the highways to be a mess.

I was so wrong.  There was no one driving.  It was a (holy) ghost town.

Growing up, I went to Catholic elementary school.  We didn't have a cafeteria, so we ate at our desks, and moms would volunteer to watch us in our rooms during lunch.  When I was in second grade, we had a nun as our lunch monitor once a week.  Her name was Sister Madeline, and I have no idea how old she actually was, but to my seven year old self she seemed like she was at least a hundred and five.

She was a teeny tiny old lady with round glasses and white curly hair peeking out of her habit.

And she was strict.

Sister Madeline used to grade our journals while we ate, and I will never forget the time she called me over to her desk in the middle of lunch.  I was a big time rule follower in second grade, so I know I wasn't breaking any of Sister Madeline's major lunch-related rules like throwing out the crusts of my sandwich or eating my dessert first.

As my nerves and I approached her desk, I saw it.

My journal.  And a red pen.

"Laura," she said, "this sentence that you wrote says, 'Time to come in for dinner,' my mom yelled.'  Your mother doesn't yell.  She calls."


Sister Madeline was also big on manners, and might be part of the reason my New Year's resolution in my journal that year was to put my napkin on my lap.

I can remember her telling us that you should always use your best manners and keep things neat and tidy just in case the Pope comes to town.

"Don't chew with your mouth open, what if the Pope drops by?"  

"Throw away all your trash and make sure to wipe your desk off, what if the Pope comes to town?"

I don't know if Sister Madeline is still alive, because according to my calculations she would be about 132 years old by now, but I thought of her Friday as I drove to my meeting down a highway I've driven hundreds of times.  On Friday, for the first time ever, there was a crew of about 50 PennDOT workers picking up trash in the median.

"Wow" I thought, "Is the Pope coming to town or something?"

And I laughed and laughed because yes he is and those highway workers must have had Sister Madeline as their teacher too.

I'll just be over here with my napkin on my lap all weekend.

You never know when the Pope is going to drop in.


Sarah said…
I misread #1 as "Keep my dreams clean" and really started to wonder WHAT IN THE WORLD 7yo Laura dreamed about. ;)
Sarah said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
MilitaryPugWife said…
I love your resolutions!!
I wish I had my old stuff lol. That's so cute.
LOL My dad went to a catholic elementary school and the nuns rapped them on the knuckles with rulers!
Angela said…
So funny. Sister Madeline would be proud. ;)
Evelina said…
Your selfie with the pope is everything!
That slogan is hilarious. Also, I totally think that's hilarious that they were cleaning up trash because the Pope was coming and that nun said the same thing. She was a visionary, obviously.
Bijoux said…
Protestants were told that the President might stop by.
Emily said…
Haha! Putting the napkin in your lap is a very important life skill.

A mother doesn't yell. <<<this means that I can't stop laughing.
Maydelin said…
haha so funny!! I also went to a Catholic school but mine was middle and High School, and they weren't that extric with us... Thanks For passing by to my blog, Greeting From Venezuela http://upanddowninvenezuela.blogspot.com/
Marie said…
Your picture with the Pope is so great!!
This post is too funny! And I love "the Pope's home away from Rome"...that is so clever!
Meg Taylor said…
That's crazy that it was a ghost town on the roads! Please share more of your Pope puns ;)
Rebecca Jo said…
A holy ghost of a town... that made me laugh so hard!

My son in law is such a devout Catholic... & he's on vacation... in Rome... while the Pope is here in the USA. #irony
Cece said…
Glad that it wasn't the nightmare that you predicted with traffic and whatnot. Sounds like enough people got out of town thinking it would be so it worked out. We happened to be in Rome when he was in St Peters square. He causes quite a stir wherever he Roams. Kind of pun intended!
Hahahaha I'm DYING. I went to Catholic school as well, and my fifth grade teacher (who was NOT a nun, but was also old as dirt) used to always use the pope excuse for everything as well. I had totally forgotten about that until I read this.

And also, may I say that you had excellent penmanship as a child. :o)
I work not too far outside of Philly and the roads truly were a holy ghost town (lol) the end of last week. I wish the Pope would come to town more often, because it would make my commute a heck of a lot easier!
But really, can they clean up the trash all the time just in case the Pope drops by again?
Sara McCarty said…
Hahaha! I love this! Sister would be so proud! :) Tell the Pope I said hi!
My husband left just outside the city mid afternoon Friday and had no traffic getting to meet us out of town since everyone was off already - it's been crazy!
Love this!! I smiled the whole way through. I'm not Catholic, but I swear we all had a "Sister Madeline." I remember Mrs. Slone. She was hard core! I remember she spanked me with her hand and said I was being too loud in the bathroom! Haha. Those were the good days. :)
Brittany said…
This is great. I love your New Year's resolutions most of all.
Lisa Loves John said…
This is so great!! I died about your mother calling, not yelling! Lol, I will most certainly be telling that to my future children :) :)
Lana L. said…
I went to Catholic school too - and this is so funny. I think every Nun is the same. How fun to be there when the Pope really did come to town!
Daleian said…
This was so funny! I can't help but wonder what would the Pope do if he saw someone chewing with their mouth open! :)
Rachel said…
Sister Madeline apparently made a really big impression! Awesome story--and how perfect that the Pope finally did drop by...
Myra said…
I legitimately cannot stop laughing at this whole post. Sister Madeline sounds like a real character!! At least you were prepared for when the Pope did decide to drop on by, lol! Still laughing, btw...
BLovedBoston said…
You are so witty and look at that the pope helped with the driving since no one wanted to be on the roads! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston
Too funny! And I love how the pope's visit actually opened up the roads for you :)

Green Fashionista
ha! This story is awesome. Way to bring it full circle. What an awesome way to talk about the Pope in town. I wonder how old she actually was too! I remember thinking people were soooo old when I was younger and they were like 35.
Hahaha, this was funny. My step-mom used to be a nun (no joke) and she's told stories about some of the ones that were old when she was in the convent.
Michelle said…
Your posts are always some of my favorites. Hilarious. Sister Madeline and I would not have gotten along very well.
This was such a great story-- love that you remembered it from your childhood, I guess sister madeline was right, you never know when the pope might come to town :)
Martha Woods said…
Ha! 132 years old...I bet she'd be proud of those DOT workers though :)
Baby Sister said…
I'll have to let Hubby know that I don't yell either, I call. :) That made me laugh. As well as your New Year's Resolutions...I have never been so on top of mine! Did you put your napkin in your lap? :)