She's currently out near the front walk, in the rocked portion of the landscape that is my favorite (no mowing there!). At about 2 foot tall, she raises eyebrows for some.
She is a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, concrete, painted medium brown with hints of espresso. She is currently sporting a crown of small, artificial roses into which my girls have woven regulation-sized roses and carnations. It's quite 1960s, and quite lovely.
When Belle was little, and I was still her Nonna, she went to preschool and found out all about Mary (Catholic preschool). So, being Nonna at the time, she conned me into buying a yard statue.
It is amazing what I found to buy them when I was their grandmother that they probably wouldn't have received. I once bought Belle 2 pairs of sunglasses at the dollar store, because, as she informed me, she has two eyes, which I thought very clever for an 18 month old. I took Baby to pick out her first birthday present from the Mister and me, when she reached onto the shelf and into the cart, then fiercely said into the ear of a plush frog, "I'm Baby, and I love you...OK, Nonny, buyed it!" Hardly the educational and developmental toy requested by my adult daughter for her.
But this was more than sunglasses, a plush frog, or even a small lawn ornament. Somehow, putting a statue of the BVM in our yard, front or back, was more of a commitment than going to Mass on Sunday or praying in the privacy of our home. This wasn't a Knights of Columbus bumper sticker, or a dashboard Sacred Heart. This said to whomever passed by, "HEY! CATHOLIC ALERT! SEND OUT THE ROVING MISSIONARIES OF VARIOUS DENOMINATIONS!" But nurturing the Faith in grandchildren seems at times more important than in children, especially live-in grandchildren, which along with my adult daughter, they were at the time. So, it was off to the best garden center in our area. Besides, for our ethnic background, it wasn't much of a stretch, along with tomato and pepper plants as a backyard crop.
I took Baby with me, who was some months younger but better spoken than Belle, while Belle was at school. She, in turn, tried to badger me into a gnome, an elf, 2 fairies and a sphere. Baby then told me if I was going to stick to buying a Mary, I had to get a good one. She found me a concrete Mary painted off-white. "If you have to buy one, this is it. Don't buy the skinny ones in color (plastic). It won't blow away, nobody can steal it, and it looks nice." I told you, she was well-spoken and had great taste, even at 2 1/2.
It felt as if it weighed a ton, and took me twenty minutes to successfully remove from the back of the car to its former location in our former backyard. I fished some concrete paving stones from another part of the yard, and there she was, ensconced among the begonia bushes. She looked lovely, the flowers were perfect, and there she stayed, through summer and winter.
Time and weather wore out Mary's paint job. Every spring, I would head out with a can of cream spray paint and touch her up. But there came the time when a really bad winter wore off a lot of paint, and I was ready for a change of color. We were moving, and Mary was moving with us. I laid down a coat of good epoxy primer, then the first coat of brown. When she dried, it was time to load her into the container to move. I layered more and more paint on her here, but somehow, to the Mister, it looked like chocolate when I was trying for wood. Every Easter he asks if I am sticking her in one big Easter basket, and every year the kids swat him.
This year, we had no religious education class except at home, so we had our May crowning yesterday, on Mother's Day. That's why the girls got out the craft stuff, and bought flowers at the Right to Life table after Mass.
This begged the question, "You know we aren't worshiping the statue, right?"
I got two pinpoint stares. "Don't be stupid! We aren't babies. We know Mary is in Heaven. We know she prays for us, and God has the final say. We aren't pagans!"
I was glad they could process that. I remember when their biological mother, slightly younger, couldn't, and tried to dress to the occasion of a school May crowning in first grade. When she was not permitted to take out her best party dress, she insisted she get to wear a crinoline slip under her uniform. She came home from the event miffed. "We took all that time, and got her a crown with real flowers, and she didn't even show up! She sent a statue instead!" All the explanation in the world could not convey to the child the symbolism of the service. She was always the most literal of my children. In the family oral history, the story is known as Mary: The Tour.
But her younger sisters know better, and enjoyed their moment showing devotion to the Mother of God.
And I have to say, Mary now acts as majordomo for our household; since we moved, we haven't been visited by any evangelical efforts of other ecclesial groups, not one tract.