When I was a boy, I had two mamas. Regular Mama and Crazy Mama. Regular Mama was my mama until 1960, the year Father Pitt, a retired priest from Chicago, drove into town in a white Pontiac full of marble statues of angels, Virgin Mary’s, and three baby Jesuses. Father Pitt moved into a red brick house on Water Street across from Christ Episcopal church, set those statues out in the front yard, and introduced them to passersby. Everyone talked about Father Pitt because he was the first Catholic to make his home in town. My daddy didn’t care for him. He said we didn’t need any Catholics down south. And besides, there was bird shit all over his statues, and he figured that was some kind of commentary from above. But Mama disagreed. She said that seeing those Jesuses and saints and angels out there in the sun and the rain, and yes, even with bird shit decorating them, made her feel like it was Christmas all year long. It made her think about the Lord and all his minions. She took up driving us into town and talking with Father Pitt every chance she got. She must have told him about all the babies she lost and how much she wanted another child because Father Pitt told her miracles could happen to those who believe. He asked, Do you got faith enough to move the mountains? Mama looked out at the Blue Ridge and blinked.
But one night the Virgin Mary came to Mama in a dream and promised if she turned Catholic she could have all the babies she wanted. In her dream, Mama said, babies grew like apples on trees. That’s why Mama converted. And why she made an appointment with Dr. Repolt who prescribed her some new, special pills. The next thing we knew, Mama was pregnant. And with four babies. She was so happy, she told everyone in town that she wasn’t having a baby, she was having a litter. God was making up for lost time. But when she was a few months along, those babies fell out of her like peas from a split pod. Her hair started falling out. Daddy said her mind left with her hair and those babies. And Regular Mama left too.