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May 21, 2021

Coming of Age Creative Nonfiction Inspirational

       The Forger

Suzanne Marsh

“What do you mean you forged your Father’s signature?’

Those words echoed through my head as I glared at my youngest daughter. She was always in trouble but this was worse than her usual. She hated school and was not doing well. The teachers were perplexed. I was certain this child of mine would become a forger in later life. Just how did all this happen?

Simple like Mother like daughter. I used to forge my Mom’s name on report cards; her writing was mostly loops and very easy to copy. My Dad’s took a bit more skill which I developed over the years I was in school. I had sincerely hoped my youngest would not follow in my footsteps. However I was beginning to see she was going to follow the same path. Forgery was easier than facing an irate parent or so we both thought. This child of mine no doubt would follow the things I did and along the way would, I hoped; become her own person.

I thought of all the times I had gotten failing cards in the mail. I had them hidden all over my parents home. I had several stashed in a zoology book, several in a biology book. I just hoped and prayed a great deal that my Mom or Dad did not ever look in those places. Now here I was faced with deeds that I had done. Things change but yet they remain the same.

I remember one time I was really desperate. Then nuns that taught me were very familiar with my escapades. This time they wanted me to bring in a note from my Mother stating that she had asked me about why I to write five hundred times: ‘I will not talk in class when Sister is talking.’ This was going to be difficult although I loved a challenge. I went home from school puzzling over just how I was going to forge the note as well as my Mother’s signature. This was a real dilemma; to say the very least. I had the whole weekend to decide what I was going to do. I practiced signing Dad’s name first...it would never do; the nuns would know it was a forgery. I worked more on Mom’s signature. The loops were much easier than the up and down scrawl. I practiced most of Friday and Saturday; those were the two days my parents were really busy...they never paid attention to what I was doing.

Finally, Sunday evening while my parents were watching The Ed Sullivan Show I wrote the note and signed my Mom’s name. I hoped Sister Gertrude was not going to look very closely or I would be in detention for the rest of my life. Sister was no dummy when it came to my forging my Mom’s signature. She knew I was more than capable of doing these things.

Class began and Sister Gertrude asked me for the note and the homework I was supposed to do. I wrote most of: ‘I will not talk in class when Sister is talking’ with both my left and right hands. When one cramped I used the other. The handwriting was neat and legible which fascinated Sister; she could tell they were written by two different hands.

“Would you like to explain how there are two different hand writings. I am sure there is a good story here?”

“Simple Sister, I can write with my left as well as my right hand.”

I guess that was the wrong answer:

“Fine, you wish to lie to me; you can write one thousand times: “I will not lie to Sister,

I want it tomorrow morning.”

Good thing I really am ambidextrous: one thousand times worth. Mom was becoming rather suspicious when I evaded her. I went into my bedroom, pulled out six sheets of lined paper and began to write, scribble and mumble but I got it done.

All the times that I forged my parents signatures were coming back to me as I sat with my youngest daughter extolling why you do not forge your parents signatures. She looked glumly at me as I returned to my reminiscing hoping she would listen.

“After Sister Gertrude finished with me in fifth grade I met my match in sixth grade.

Sister Mary Constance. She knew how to push my buttons from the beginning. She knew

I could be counted on to be the trouble maker in the class. I obliged her more than once.

My Mom had received several notes from Sister; I had disposed of them before Mom saw

them, it was the safest way. Sister began to wonder why she never heard from my Mom.

I tried my usual: “my Mom works and is not home very often.”

Sister Mary Constance was not buying this. She decided to call Mom at work; Mom had put her work number as an emergency number. I got home that afternoon. There was Mom sitting at the kitchen table. This was never a good sign; since she was supposed to be at work.

“All right Missy, would you like to explain why I have not gotten any report cards or notes from

this Sister Mary Constance. Just what have you been doing?”

‘Oh crap’ I thought. I was caught in a trap of my own making. How was I going to explain that I had been hiding notes for at least four years. She would never believe me.

“Look Mom, you and Dad both work. I have to make decisions about what is important

for you and Dad to see.”

It sounded reasonable at that point.

“Oh really Missy. Explain why no report cards. Either Dad or I have to sign them. I have

not signed anything in four years; neither has Dad...I checked with him.”

Panic is never a pretty sight and I was in a panic. How could I explain that I had been forging their signatures all this time. I had notes and report cards hidden in books in my bedroom. Oh man this was a disaster if ever there was one.

“So you see Monica, it doesn’t pay to forge a signature. Did you learn anything from what

I just told you?”

Monica looked up with her big blue eyes:

“Yes, if I had spelled his name right I never would have gotten caught.”

Heaven help me, she was following the same path I did.

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