The Thunderbird

by Claire Lindell

Every year, even after all these years when the Feast of the Annunciation draws near, my memory is flooded with the events that transpired more than fifty years ago. Decisions that would change my life seem to come to the forefront of my mind.  I think back to that weekend.

Early on the bright spring Thursday morning of March 25th, 1965  the chauffeur driven car pulled up beside the convent. My father walked up to the front door and welcomed me with opened  arms. He had come to bring me home.

For almost six years Joan of Arc House had been my convent home. Taking the Holy Habit, becoming a bride of Christ,  two years in the Novitiate, studying theology, teaching Kindergarten, daily prayers and community living were the  way of life. Leaving  all this behind was not an easy decision.

We set out on the  long drive from Ottawa to Asbestos. We had much to talk about, but to this day I can not for the life of me remember any of our conversation. Heading in to the unknown can be rather daunting. There was a great deal to ponder.

Mom was waiting for us at home. The following day, Friday morning, she took me to the hairdresser to have my hair cut and permed. It was in dire need of something. I had worn a veil while a nun and “one’s crowning glory” was not a priority under a veil! I came away from there somewhat transformed and ready to face the challenges that lay ahead. That afternoon we  drove to Richmond where I signed a contract to begin teaching Grade One beginning the following Monday morning. Arrangements had been made earlier when a friend knew I was leaving the convent and they needed a teacher at her school.

The weekend flew by as I tried to come to grips with my new surroundings, not to say anything about a new look! Life was so different. No bells. No prayers. No meals in silence. No community time.

Monday morning arrived and my Dad suggested I use his  car to drive the fifteen miles to Richmond until I could buy my own. His  car was a 1962  white Ford Thunderbird convertible with bright red leather interior! It was a very snazzy sports car for an ex-nun to be driving. It was a perfect way to get back in to “the real world” and forge ahead on to the next chapter.


That Monday morning I could only chuckle to myself wondering what my new colleagues were thinking when they saw this “to die for car” pull in to  the parking lot and out I came, the new teacher, an ex-nun  who was the driver of the Thunderbird convertible! Can you imagine?

Since that day in 1965 life has been good and there have never been any regrets about the decisions made. Within two weeks I had my own car and I can assure you, it was nothing like that 1962 white Ford Thunderbird with the beautiful red leather interior!

Me and my Mom   on Holy Habit Day

April 30th, 1960

2 thoughts on “The Thunderbird”

  1. Loved this story, Claire! You would never guess what stories people have until they are shared, thank you.


  2. A very touching story of an amazing woman! I am sure the transition wasn’t easy. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us, Claire. It is always nice to learn more about the people in our lives.


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