My mother hated the smell of Juicy Fruit chewing gum. It had a sickly-sweet, fruity aroma. As a young girl, my sister Margie loved it, but not so much for the flavor or smell. Chewing it was a playful way to get revenge on our mother.
Now in our 60s, Margie and I went to a spiritual retreat at a Catholic retreat center in Northern California. The retreat was called Women’s Spiritual Spa. It was meant to honor, bless, and provide respite to women. It is always a sold-out event at the retreat center. Every moment of this three-day retreat felt like an embrace to us. We left feeling so well taken care of and serene. On the drive back to my house, my sister reminded me of something we liked to do as children when my mother was driving. Margie would open a big pack of Juicy Fruit gum and hand me half of the sticks. Mother couldn’t see what we were up to in the back seat, but she soon found out. Each of us put every stick of that sickly-sweet gum in our mouths and chewed it into a big soft wad. With our mouths open and lips smacking, we sent clouds of Juicy Fruit smell towards the driver of the car. Our mother would groan and gag. We loved making her sick. It was our way of exacting some small revenge to a mother who was often domineering and harsh, but we all laughed about the smell and the gagging, even Mother.
Mother had died some 25 years ago, and now her two grown daughters were remembering a silly moment from our childhood. Suddenly, the car I was driving these many years later was filled with that old familiar smell of Juicy Fruit gum. I was astonished…thought I might be imagining the aroma. “Margie, do you smell something?”
“Of course. It’s the smell of Juicy Fruit gum.”
“Don’t you find that amazing?” I said.
Margie just grumbled on about our mother’s meanness, while I sent Mom a prayer thanking her for joining us in the car this day for a loving little joke between us.
“You have done miracles, but it is quite apparent that you have not done them alone. You have succeeded whenever you have reached another mind and joined with it.” (T-16.II.4:1-2)