I opened my eyes on May 25, 1963, and caught a glimpse of my navy-blue suit hanging on the doorknob of my closet, and I jumped off the top bunk of my bed, trying not to wake my brother below. I pulled back the cowboy-printed curtains and looked up at a gray, overcast sky. I was receiving my First Holy Communion, and nothing could dampen my spirits.
I was so excited, but not in a theological sense. I knew that I would be receiving the body of Christ. But, for me, receiving meant, for the first time, I would be able to walk up to the altar rail, kneel, and take communion like I had seen countless other people do every Sunday. My overriding question was, How will it taste?
I dressed in my suit, white shirt, tie, and a traditional white armband bow. I put on the new pair of black shoes Mom had bought from Thom McAn. She combed my strawberry-blond hair to one side with a sharp precise part and ran a dab of Brylcreem through it to keep everything in place.
I stood on the front stoop of the house as my mother snapped photographs using her new Instamatic camera my father had given her as a gift. Finally, my father barked, “It’s nine-thirty. Let’s go.”
Excerpt from A SAINT AND A SINNER