I’ve waited years to tell this story because I wanted to make sure I didn’t embarrass anyone. My sister says the people involved have probably forgotten about it, and besides, I haven’t seen them for a couple of decades anyway (wow, how time flies.)
Mom died in March of 1987. Of course it was difficult and I still miss her, but even in the middle of grief, there were some hilarious moments.
The first Mother’s Day after her death (a month and a half maybe?) Dad, Carol and I assumed we would just hunker in and not pay any more attention to it than necessary. Carol and I had moved home a year or so earlier to help Mom open a printing business. When she got sick, we were glad to be there to help when necessary and stay close to her as well. So, there’s that …
Anyway, Dad preached a bland Mother’s Day sermon, the church gave out flowers or something or other and we thought we might escape and make it through the day.
Nope! A very nice woman, whose husband had long-since died and whose kids lived far away invited us to come over after church. With no other plans in place, the three of us traipsed to her home and had a lovely dinner. She made a fuss over us … over Dad, showed us (him) all over her home and finally let us leave when the time was appropriate.
All we could think was that the first Mother’s Day was over and the next year would be easier. We were thankful for a little distraction in the day and went home and crashed, completely oblivious to the trouble we had just stirred up in that little church.
A few days passed. Carol and I were at work every day, so we didn’t pay much attention to what was happening at church. We had choir practice that next Wednesday evening and didn’t notice anything, even though the woman who had invited us to dinner seemed a little uncomfortable.
Then came the next UMW (United Methodist Women) meeting. None of us were aware of anything going on, but one of our close friends, an older woman who had the craziest sense of humor, showed up in Dad’s office after that meeting to tell him the story. She was getting such a kick out of it all.
Apparently, tempers had flared, cross words had been spoken and the middle-aged single women were HOT at each other. They had actually discussed the fact (not long after Mom died) that they needed to give Dad six months to finish grieving his wife’s loss. Until then, he was off limits as dating material. But then, someone crossed the line. By inviting us to Mother’s Day dinner, this woman had thrown down the gauntlet and the gloves were off.
One of those women fully intended to be the next minister’s wife – and queen of the church. And because only one of them had thought to be so generous as to invite us to dinner on Mother’s Day (How could she? How crass!), the others felt as if they’d lost their chances at putting their best feet forward. The funniest thing? They no longer cared about Dad’s grieving period. They were going for it.
Fortunately for everyone involved, my father was a very smart man. He immediately let it be known that he needed a lot of time. And the truth is, he did. It took him nearly four months to come back to life again. But by Thanksgiving, he was dating a woman from out of town. That didn’t make the church ladies too thrilled, but what could they do? Throw a tantrum? Admit that they were conniving to trap the preacher? They were at a loss.
Is there a moral to this story? I can think of a bunch of ’em, but for now, though I had to wait twenty-eight years, I still find it hilarious.