Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Curiosities: Have a Seat

The news came that time was short. My father’s brother’s wife, a sweet gentle lady who constantly had snuff juice in the corners of her mouth, was in the last stages of colon cancer. My father asked Hub and me to take him and my Mom over to Georgia, about two hundred miles, to see her one last time.

It was a hot, dry summer, one where plants or patience did not prosper. Come early Saturday morning, we packed up our two sons, picked up my parents, and headed for Georgia. About five hours later, we found the hospital, the biggest building in the small Southern town. Hub stayed downstairs with the boys, and I went with my parents to locate my Aunt’s room.

Southern rituals seem to illuminate an obsession with death, where friends and kin gather around the bedside to see the dying one breathe their last. When we arrived at the small, stuffy room, it was packed. The weariness of the trip must have shown on my face, because the preacher, there to do his duty, rose from his seat and kindly offered it to me. I made my way across the room to where he was and to the seat he offered.

The offered seat was a potty chair. The preacher and I both looked at it, then at each other, and crimson flooded his already sweating face. He did not know if he should apologize, sit back down, or whatever. He just turned and left the room. I did the thing that any true Southern lady would do…had me a seat on that potty chair! At least until I had stayed a respectable amount of time. Escaping the sauna-like room, I joined my family where we rolled with laughter, a safe distance away from the ugliness of imminent death. We’re still laughing about it, some thirty years later.
A merry heart doeth good like a medicine. . . . Proverbs 17:22