The drawing of Vincent during his short time in a seminary shows him looking out like he’d rather be anywhere else. As in all his pictures, Donna is amazed at how he was able to convey such feeling and emotion with a few strokes of a marker. His heaviness and sadness shows clearly in the picture although when he first told Donna of his decision to join the priesthood, he was lighthearted and jovial.
“Is it possible to get a security job without having to work swing shift?”
“Not at the Claridge, right now anyway. Maybe at a different casino.”
“Why don’t you look then?”
“Well, because I’m thinking about joining the priesthood.” It took me about a good minute to process what I just heard, partly because he said it as if he was thinking about buying a new jacket and partly because, although he was a good Catholic, he also had some beliefs and practices that the Catholic Church wouldn’t be too big on—like gazing into crystal balls to tell the future, astral projecting, reading tarot cards, and casting spells.
“Huh?” I needed to make sure I wasn’t hearing things.
“I said I’m thinking about becoming a priest.”
“Is it anything to do with your new interest in woodworking?” This was the best I could do. I knew it seemed nonsensical, but I reasoned that Jesus was a carpenter and that maybe doing carpentry made him feel closer to Jesus and maybe that made him want to become a priest. He made beautiful things, by the way—a chair for Mom made of rich, deep walnut, an oak table for Dad’s office, and a mahogany jewelry box for me, perfectly square and big enough to fit all the jewelry I acquired throughout my entire life.
“Huh?” he said, squinting his eyes. It was too much for me to explain the woodworking question, so I just asked him why he wanted to do this new thing.
“You remember that time I told you about when I was astral projecting, and I saw Joan of Arc?”
“Yes,” I said with great caution, scared to find out what was coming next.
“Well, yeah that was one thing, and then just a few days ago, I did a tarot reading and asked about joining the priesthood, and the cards said it would be a great path for me.”
“Do you know how crazy that sounds, Vincent?” I blurted out. “Seeing Joan of Arc through the way of something, which may or may have not been an acid trip, and a tarot reading. The Church isn’t okay with all that occult crap, you know.”
“I was completely straight when I saw Joan of Arc. I was astral projecting,” he said through laughter. I was glad to see him laugh after being so despondent since he arrived, and with this, I felt that the depressed imposter was gone. “And you know I destroyed my crystal ball a while ago.”
“You what?! Why couldn’t you have sold it? That had to have been worth a lot of money.”
“I had to crush it to renounce my pagan ways.”
“You could have used the money.”
“No, I had to, Donna.” Laughter kept poking through his seriousness like raindrops coming through a crack in a wall.
“What about the tarot? You have a bunch of tarot decks. You’re just going to throw all of them out? And all your occult books—you’re going to toss them too?”
“Well, no.” He paused for a minute. “I was hoping I could keep them here with you when I move into the seminary.” When he said this thing about moving into the seminary, I knew he was really serious about it.
“Of course, you can.” I looked at him straight in the eyes and said, “I just hope you’re thinking this thing through really carefully. It’s a really big decision, you know.”
“I am,” he said, drinking the last of his tea.
This post is part of my latest blog series on the artwork that inspired the family saga, The Bird that Sang in Color. The art featured in these posts comes from a sketchbook that belonged to my brother, Vincent, which I discovered shortly after his death. It had pictures he’d drawn of himself throughout various phases of his life. This pictorial autobiography caused me to wonder what pictures I’d have of myself by the end of my life, which motivated me to live more fully. In writing this novel, I was able to share this powerful realization with the world. This novel is the third book in the Greco Family Trilogy. Each one of these family trilogy books is told from a different family member’s point of view. This one is told from the perspective of the Greco family matriarch, Donna.
Grace Mattioli is the author of the Greco Family Trilogy books, including Olive Branches Don’t Grow on Trees, Discovery of an Eagle, and The Bird that Sang in Color. These books are available from all major online book sellers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books.