Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Church folk, Elephants and Hot Sauce

To say I am scattered these days would be a gross understatement, at this time I can say that dealing with issues is not a job, it’s an adventure. Things that would be annoyances in the normal world become the shock and awe of “Widow’s World.” Everything is magnified because there is no strong arms to wrap around yourself and a steady voice to say that everything will be okay.

First was that I was summoned to my father in laws church, which was Richard and my church, for “Homecoming” festivities. For those not familiar with the concept, it is the anniversary of the first Sunday service in a church after it is chartered. Lots of food, family, etc. Now, the reason I was summoned was that they were to honor my husband since he was a deacon and the two of
us are charter members of the church.

I did not sleep all of Saturday night, so I started the glam process early. Took my time, drank my coffee and smoked the dreaded cigarettes as I painted my face to look my absolute best. Because I had not set my foot on the property since the day of the funeral, I was actually psyching myself up in order to go to the church. In truth I would have rather been dragged to the backyard and have been beaten about the face and head until comatose. But, I put on my armor and strode into battle. I say battle because these are the most inconsistent, undependable and fake people in the entire planet. I politely declined their insistence's that I sing at the Christmas Cantata and return to weekly services. I smiled, took their hugs and squeezes, their pats and polite conversation about weight loss and my nasal piercing. Small talk for the small minded. I watched their whispers and tortured food I had no intention of eating. Then I was making my polite escape when I was cornered by someone who was supposedly Rich’s best friend. When he pressed me to return that “my Church Family” was concerned, I reminded him that I had heard from no one, including him since Wednesday after the funeral. That if concern was what they were showing. I had no need of it at this time. He said they thought I had “moved away from the Lord.” I simply replied “I have not moved away from the Lord. But the Church Family moved away from me.” At that point, rather than engage him in a debate of excuses, I politely said my goodbyes and came home. I was exhausted and was trying to sleep when the phone started ringing. Like Granny always said. “A hit dog will holler.” I declined to answer the phone as I am unconcerned with anything they have to say at this point in my life. Please understand this is not an indictment of the church in general or religion of any kind. This is an indictment of these particular people.

Then last night, when I had finally relaxed enough to lay down, vandals threw a concrete brick through my living room window. My son was gone to dinner with his girlfriend and I was alone. They left their food on the table and ran to me. There was no white knight to come and protect or save me. I had to deal with the police and everything else alone. The officer, a tiny, little, and perhaps the whitest dude I have ever seen actually ask me with a straight face, if I was “beefing with anyone in the neighborhood??’ I looked at him and laughed as I said “Little too much TV there officer? I have never had an issue with anyone in the entire neighborhood.” I am not ashamed to say I came out of my bedroom with my gun and was prepared to use it. The brick sounded like a shotgun blast and I was petrified. I went into business mode and handled, along with my son and his girlfriend, putting cardboard over the window. I put the business card with the police report number on the refrigerator and the gun upstairs in a calm, cool and collected manner. But when I laid back down, I cried myself to sleep holding onto a pillow instead of my late husband. I truly felt alone. He’s really not coming back to save me it seems.

I often go back to my Grandmother in situations like these. When all of my problems and the weight of the world is resting on my shoulders, I see her soft brown eyes and hear her say … “’Buni, do you know how to eat an elephant? One bite at a time baby, just one bite at a time.” She was the calmest and best of all souls I have ever known. She raised five children in the depression alone and no one went hungry because she took in laundry she did by hand for one dollar a day. She never owned a home or drove a car. But out of all the influences in my life, hers is the strongest within me. Her strength was a amazing and her grace was a thing of beauty. My father’s side of the family gave me roots driven deep into the bedrock of the south. My beloved Grandmother was my Mother’s side and she gave me wings. She taught me the meaning of the word Lady. In good times and in bad she held her piece of this world with dignity. She left this world January 18, 1986 after a hard struggle with Bone Cancer that was metastasized Breast Cancer. God was merciful and it only lasted 6 weeks actually. She was the first close death I ever experienced. Today, October 19 is her 100th birthday. I hope Granny, as I wander through this “Widow’s World” that I honor you. I am eating this elephant one bite at a time, but I’m just using a little hot sauce to do it.


  1. You are so right to observe that what we used to be able to take with a grain of salt in our old lives, suddenly becomes far more challenging when we've been widowed. Having to face everything on one's own when we're used to having a husband, friend and helpmate by our sides is not so easy anymore. This fact started to worry me - I ended up asking a close friend, "I never used to complain so much or freak out when my husband was alive, did I?" She confirmed I didn't.

    Dealing with difficult people when you're still in grief and shock is just one of the hardest things to have to face. But you made it through with strength and a sense of humor. Thankfully, you held it together with tact and dignity. In situations like yours, I just tell myself to make it through without causing a scene or saying really mean things better left unsaid. I come out of them feeling proud of myself for not lowering myself. Good for you for taking care of yourself and letting the phone ring - you don't need to deal with all that!

    The brick incident is just so strange and crazy. Someone set our mailbox on fire the night my husband died. You'd think the world would cut us a break when we're already wounded and down. It just shows you that life keeps going on, the good and the bad.

    You have some lovely memories about your grandmother. I love what you said about her not owning a home or driving but still being such a guiding and wise woman. It just shows that it is not what we own materially that makes our mark but our values and connections to others. I am sure your grandmother would approve of your addition of the hot sauce!

  2. You are funny and you know what's good in life. And bless you, you even know what works for you.