She calls out: ‘Michael (she prefers to call me by my baptism name), Michaaeeelll, Michhaaaaeeel!!
I know when she calls out my name like that it’s either I have forgotten to do something, and it’s time for another lesson.
Me (thinking up defenses in forms of excuses, to avoid being in the wrong again, I answered smiling): Yes mum, Welcome back, how was your day?
She: My day was good. What were you doing?
Me: completing my math assignment.
She: What did you do when you got back from school.
Me: I had lunch, then went to play football, came back home, played video games, till I remembered I had a math assignment.
She: Before going to school what did we agree you will do when you got back from school?
Me (realizing I had reneged on our agreement, that I will do the laundry this Thursday, so I can go to a birthday party on Saturday, I replied): Erm, erm, erm, I forgot.
She: But you didn’t forget to go to play football, and play video games?
Me: I am sorry mum. Can I do it tomorrow? I really need to finish this assignment, and as I have one hour till bedtime, can I do it tomorrow after school tomorrow?
She (smiling at my attempt to negotiate my way out, she replies): Dictum Meum Pactum, let me hear you say that.
Me: Dit hum Pahtum.
She: No, say ‘Dict’.
She: Good! Pactum.
She: No! Pac tum
Me: Pac tum
She: Now say them together.
Me: Dictum Meeuum Pactum.
She: That’s good enough.
Me: What does it mean?
She: It means my “My word is my bond.” Michael, I want you to learn to honor every word you speak, with actions. So when you’re an adult this will give you integrity. I am sure you remember our talk on integrity. Don’t you?
Me (knowing I lost this battle): Yes I do mum.
She: So, what is it going to be, because we both know that this Friday, you won’t return home till 8pm, from your lessons, and by 9pm we head to church for the vigil. So do it today, or forfeit your birthday party on Saturday.
I guess doing the laundry that faithful Thursday night left the phrase “Dictum Meum Pactum” branded in my heart because I went to bed by 12:30 am.
And over, 16 years later, I still live by Dictum Meum Pactum, both in my spoken and written words, the images to this post are testaments to that lesson.