By Sr. Margaret Anne Meyer MMM U.S.A. 26.12.2022
It was a very cold snowy morning at 5:30 AM when my parents, sister, two brothers and I got into the car to visit my grandparents in Florida. How would we make the journey in two days? How could we be there on Sunday, Christmas Day when we left on Friday morning? At that time there were no interstate highways, just a two-lane road, maybe three in some areas called US 1.
These were the questions going through my mind as we left New York City. We passed over the George Washington Bridge and headed for the New Jersey Turnpike that had just recently been built. At that time the speed limit, I was told, was 90 mph. That did not last long as it was often foggy, and many accidents occurred. However, we were soon making a lot of progress and loved looking at the scenery, not having been outside the NY- NJ area before.
That evening, we stopped in a motel, having travelled over 600 miles. Having dinner in a restaurant was a great treat. In the morning, Mom ran the bathtub tap to get the water hot enough to make tea. We also had cereal, milk, and bananas for breakfast. Lunch was by a road stop which provided picnic benches where we could sit down and eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I was mesmerized by the hanging moss trees in Georgia.
Another night came and we stayed in a motel in northern Florida. Dad said we just had another 250 miles to go to arrive at his parents’ home in West Palm Beach. Christmas morning arrived and I am sure we went to Mass but all I remember of that day is that the car would not go except in reverse. My father got under the car with a wrench and did some loud knocking of the gears. Finally, the car was in working order and we were off to Grandma’s. It was not always easy to find a Church but my parents inquired at the restaurant where the nearest Church was and my father was told 36 miles back or 42 miles toward and he chose to go forward.
We also had some of my mother’s cousins living in that area of Florida, so we stopped to see Cousin Bill Twomey. He was very glad to see us. When he heard I was entering MMM in March he wanted me to meet a woman he knew who just left the convent after 25 years. I declined saying I wanted to try it to see if I belonged there.
We all rejoiced to see Grandma and Papa Meyer. They were glad to see us too and made us feel so welcomed and at home. The next day, we decided to go swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. The water was 72 degrees and felt very warm. We all had a great time, marveling that we could be able to swim in Florida when New York was so cold. All the houses were of pastel shades, and I saw no trees but those of palm. I do not know if this were a temptation, but I felt very sad that I would not see a maple or an oak tree in Africa. Some years later when I saw the Flame of the Forest and Jacaranda trees in Africa, I remembered this and how Jesus always gives the more when one thinks one will miss something very much.
My mother’s brother, Uncle Frank Twomey, lived in Miami, and we all got a chance to visit with him too. He told us about a place near where he lived called Africa USA. We drove in a jeep and all the animals were in fields where we passed by. It was very exciting to see them.
The holiday soon came to an end, and it was time to return to New York and to complete my high school studies before entering MMM in March 1956. My Father wanted me to see a little bit of the world before entering in case I was confined to life in one place. That has not been my experience but rather MMM has been a very exciting adventure in faith.