Jonnie Garstka has nine brothers and sisters, three children, nine grandchildren, a really nice husband and a dog…therein lies many a tale to be told…


Life Stories

My First Confession and How I Learned All About Adultery

by Jonnie Garstka

“There are many evils in this world.”

This I have known since my second grade First Confession when I had to confess my sins to a priest who was waiting for me in a tall, shadowy box.

As a seven-year-old, I had a hard time coming up with any really good faults. I figured that if I was going to be a sinner, I might as well be an interesting one.

I was pretty well versed in the Ten Commandments. My mother talked about them a lot and I really loved the stories about Moses in the Bible. I especially liked when Moses asked God to have his brother Aaron lead the Israelites because he (Moses) “was slow of speech”.

Why, I asked myself, would he give up a chance to be the boss of an entire nation of Chosen People, just because he talked slowly? But I digress.

I was having a problem with the sixth commandment. I wasn’t sure what “adultery” was, so I asked Sister Anita Mary.

I don’t think she was sure of what it meant either because she got that funny look on her face that she would get whenever I asked her a question. She finally told me that adultery was “acting like an adult, but in a way that was not nice.”

Now, in our attic there were lots of old clothes, including my grandmother’s wedding dress. It was really neat because it was pea soup green and had a slight bustle in the back.

This dress was the cause of many an argument as to who got to be the bride with the big bottom. I figured that fighting over an adult’s wedding dress was probably committing adultery …

Father Francis X. McGuire was the lucky priest who got to hear my first confession. Imagine a childish voice admitting, with a certain relish, that its owner had committed adultery three times.

He got up from his chair in the dark phone-booth-sized confessional and opened the curtain to the place where I knelt with great piety and sorrow for my sins.

“Hello, Jonnie,” he said.

Born in rural Connecticut, Jonnie Garstka grew up with four brothers and five sisters, three dogs, six cats and the occasional injured squirrel which had usually been shot by one of her brothers with a BB gun.

She and her siblings ran wild all summer on the family’s twelve acres of fields, ponds and apple trees. It was always a battle to get them back to the world of shoes and scholastics.

Writing has always been Jonnie’s “thing”. In high school she wrote for the school newspaper. In college she wrote for the college paper and the literary magazine. As a young wife and mother, she wrote a family column for a local weekly.

Now, retired and empty of nest, Jonnie has written and self published a tell-all, blame-all memoir of her life with nine siblings called I Started Out As A Middle Child.

She has also penned and printed one small book for each of her nine grandchildren. It has always been important to Jonnie to tell her children and her grandchildren about the family stories.

Now she is constantly nagging her friends to “write it down” because “So much will be lost, if we don’t.”

Jonnie welcomes your comments in the box below her stories.

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