Church Lady Memories by Linda Knight Seccaspina


Church Lady Memories by Linda Knight Seccaspina

Last night I was quite happy about the local community work that was being done to help those in need. I told my husband I never realized I could do this type of work. My husband turned to me and said,

“Well, you are a church lady!”

I turned, looked at him and began to laugh. To some of you, if someone says the word “Church Lady” you have an image in your mind of Dana Carvey dressed up as the character on Saturday Night Live. Or, maybe some have visions of a self-righteous woman who sits in the 8th pew on the right side in the last seat on Sundays. 

It was always instilled into me that a person’s character was shown to other parishioners each week by where everyone parked their buttocks. I would say we wore out the same spot on the church pew throughout the years. My grandmother actually died in church one Sunday ten minutes before the service in the same spot she had sat for 65 years.

I also used to know another woman like my grandmother–another real church lady– in my present day community. Her name was Muriel Simpson. Muriel made an impact on me, and there is never ever a day that I will ever forget her. You see, she made me promise that I would sit in her spot in a certain church pew after she died.  If you were sitting in it when she was alive she made you move. She made mention that bad things would happen to me (#satan) if I didn’t sit on her spot upon her demise.  If you have seen me sit on the right hand side of the church it is for a very good reason, and– if you are sitting in her spot I will slide myself in there no matter how many people are sitting there. After all, God said Muriel had full custody of that seat, and she always believed that life should be: Pay per Pew.

I have written before how I was raised by my grandmother, Mary Louise Deller Knight. Put into the Trinity Anglican church kitchen at age 6 (#noonegoeshungry) I was shown how to do junior church lady things. I not only learned how to work hard, but learned how to flirt in the church hall. Nothing like handing a young gentleman a big plate of food and a piece of pie with a smile.

Evelyn Beban Lewis, from Cowansville, Quebec wrote a piece about my Grandmother in 2018. By her words you can see that church ladies have always been a force to be reckoned with but— it seems like they have some sort of secret leaders too.

“Those were the days when the Friendly Society of Trinity Anglican Church hosted teas, catered to weddings, funerals, and even company dinners and Mrs. Knight was in charge of the menus. I can still see her sitting there asking who would make sandwiches or cakes.  She would tell them in the same breath that she didn’t want to see little pans of squares and there was always the ritual motioning of how big she wanted those pans.

Although the church group was called the Friendly Society, my grandmother was always called Mrs. Knight and never Mary out of love and respect. At one particular meeting the late Reverend Peacock told the ladies they should call each other by their first Christian name and they called my grandmother Mary for that one particular meeting. Evelyn said they felt uncomfortable, and by next meeting they were back to calling her Mrs. Knight. My Grandmother’s picture still hangs in the church hall and the meeting room is called ’”The Mary Knight Room”. No doubt her picture is still on the wall so people will remember how large a pan of squares should be.

For as long as I can remember I have volunteered my Church Lady heart out. But as I get older the desire is still there, but the energy isn’t. But, it still goes on—the good souls called Church Ladies still live with us en masse. They are the women you seldom see, cleaning sanctuaries and baking pies etc. I still belong to the local Family Life group helping keep all those committees of your grandmother and great grandmother’s day ‘peopled’. 

I know if my Grandmother was alive I would be so proud to tell her how I love helping my communities and she would look at me with that Mary Louise Deller Knight frown and say,

Well, isn’t that special!”

Then she would go down the list of how I could do more. She would also probably ask me what size pans of squares I was making too. (#Iamnowthatgrandma)

Last night we had our annual joint church meeting between Zion Memorial and St. James. I have been a church lady as most know since I was 6. Last night we talked about all the suppers etc we used to do at St. James in the old kitchen across the road and we talked about how some folks used to hide a piece of Butterscotch pie when the pies came out LOLOL.

Personally, it makes me feel loved to be part of these groups, makes me feel that my Grandmother is still here with me and we are always busy in her kitchen or at the halls getting food ready, and doing functions. It’s the memories that count and the love these women have. I can’t explain it, I really can’t– life would seem empty without them.

Now,this is how you do it.. at St. James in Carleton Place

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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