I never fessed up because I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t take away the meaning they’d assigned.
What I’d said was, “Five years ago today was the happiest day of my life. Today is the second happiest day of my life, because I can see how very much (emotional throat glitch) he was loved.”
From what I’ve been told, miss-hearings varied from, “how very much Jesus loved him,” to how very much Jesus loves us.”
Our United Methodist Church Pastor was one of the misunderstandees. His own throat-closing confession to an entire sanctuary of mostly unknown-to-him funeral attendees that the decision not to marry Jeff and me was the greatest regret of his ministry career, sealed my lips.
Shortly thereafter, the minister invited everyone to fellowship after the conclusion of the celebration of life for Jeffrey Korte. But, before the dismissing blessing, he also asked if there was anyone who hadn’t had a chance to speak but would like to now.
There was such a complete and awkward silence that if I hadn’t known there were people behind me, I wouldn’t have suspected anyone was there.
Then, it happened.
In a 100% Jeff moment, his picture leapt off the communion rail and tumbled over backwards. The people murmured, the tension broke, and Pastor David took it as a sign.
Paraphrasing, again, it was something that included ‘going’ and ‘eating’ like, “I think Jeff’s sayin’ it’s time to eat,” or “I guess Jeff’s ready to go eat.”
There was laughter and a blessing and then it was over. The funeral had officially ended.
I was advised to stay where I was for a few moments, because there were likely people who would not be joining us at the Masonic Hall who may want to have a word before they left.
So, I stood there, and said thank you and goodbye to some; hello and thank you to others. But, the only ones I remember were the four-in-a-row.
“It gives me great joy that you believe in our Lord and Savior.”
“Jesus was with you up there today and he will continue to be with you.”
“What a testimony to your faith! Jesus loves us -Hallelujah and Amen.”
“Your faith in Christ surpasses mine.”
Then, the witness.
Making our way to cross the church lot, the witness, my mother, spoke.
“You’re not going to become a minister, are you?”
Quote for the Week:
I had the thought to nip this in the bud early this morning when it seemed that what I had sort of managed to not look at miserably, was well on its way to misinterpretation.
Birthdays, I’ve come to realize, are importantly more thankful than death days. If it weren’t for birthdays, we’d not have the pain of the other day. There has to be one before the other, and in life there will always be both.
Appreciate all the support and advice, and request you not be offended by how it made me giggle.
Of course, the cemetery would likely be safe. I’ve rarely run into another living soul, there. I’d not have to keep a 6-foot distance from the markers, although the markers are safely keeping at least a 5-foot distance from each other.
Irony. I always keep wipes in my car in case I get by to tend to Jeff and Sally and Nannee. And Poppa Vincze. Although I’d not met him, he’s the other half of Nannee’s package deal. Oddly, enough, I cart around disinfecting Lysol wipes, to be exact. They conveniently come in-bulk from Costco and can only be tolerated when not used in an enclosed, unventilated environment with no opening windows, aka outside.
So, yes, I could have. Easily. I chose not to for residuals. I’d have to get gasoline and avoid the growing temptation to shop for Sprite and chips. I’m sure that seems light to some folks.
I’ve managed to stay safe by not having a face-to-face or even remotely public experience for an official four weeks. By sheer coincidence, I haven’t marketed since March 7th.
In addition to a life-long, silent, you-can’t see-it and would never know it, non-deadly auto-immune deficiency, I’ve been additionally warring with my body for control for thirteen months now. Finally, with correct medical intervention, I’m just beginning to feel progress in that battle.
The thing is, the deficiency won’t kill me. It can, however, heartily assist the Corona Virus in accomplishing that.
So, I wasn’t any more lonely this morning than I ever am. I was thinking deeply about being thankful for the birthday and making the responsibly right choice for me.
I’m lonelier now in a lovely eye-opening way.
Thank you all for the love.
I miss you all who feel the same, today.
I know we keep saying it, but, damn it, we’ve really got to.
I’m thinking a grave-side Joke-Fest in July. Bring your best stupid joke, awful pun, long story.
I’ll buy out Lev’s and meet you there.
I’ve always had a little trouble remembering Jeff’s birth date. I always got April, but I’d get confused about whether it was the 24th or 25th. Pretty much every year, I would pride myself on getting it right, and end up getting it wrong again.
I’d give him his card first thing in the morning, or maybe stealthily add it to his lunch bag. And then he’d look at me or text me, “Thank you. My birthday is tomorrow.” “I know,” I’d respond. “I just wanted to be the first.” Of course, Jeff knew better, but he never embarrassed me by saying so. I’d just make sure to run out for another card for the next morning.
In 2012, I did something that I felt required notifying Jeff’s family. It was after the fact, but still important so I broke the ice with a short email. “Thinking of you and Jeff today,” I wrote. The response I received was graciously humorous and something to the effect of, “I’m sure Jeff will be having lunch with Dale Earnhardt in heaven, tomorrow.”
Early on in our relationship, I started calling Jeff ‘Sweet Pea.’ Always privately, mostly on the phone and mostly at the end of our week night conversations. I’d say, “Goodnight sweet pea, love you.” He’d say, “Goodnight, I love you, too.”
If you think that would sound ridiculous coming out of my mouth, it did. And, it came out with an accidentally adapted light pseudo-southern/Nashvillian accent to boot.
I never thought much about how he’d feel about it. But, he never objected or said anything about it, either.
About two years into Michigan, Jeff pointed out to me my accent wasn’t as bad. “What are you talking about?” I asked.
“Your accent,” he repeated. “I don’t speak any differently than I ever did,” I protested.
“Uh, huh,” Jeff nodded, retrieving his cell phone from his pocket. He dialed emphatically, and handed it to me. “Just listen…” he advised.
And there I was listening to a two-year prior version of me deeply twanging my way through a typical voicemail greeting.
At a Flea Market one afternoon, I noticed an oversized cup with a flowery design and the words ‘Sweet Pea’ in an equally flowery font.
“I think I’ll buy you this cup for your birthday,” I teased. Jeff laughed, “Well, it is my birth flower.”
“Your what?” I asked. “My birth flower – it’s the sweet pea – it’s the April flower.”
“Really?” I countered. “I didn’t know that!” He laughed again, but stopped short a few steps later.
“Wait,” he said as he turned to face me. “Why did you call me that then?
“I don’t know,” I said. “It just … popped out. Must have been that southern influence…”
“Well, I like it,” He confessed sincerely with his usual wide grin.
I smiled, too. I’m still smiling, actually.
Even as I say out loud tonight, “Happy Birthday in Heaven, Sweet Pea.”
Quote for the Week:
Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:
There’s a flower for that: Actually, there are 2
Don’t Eat Them: Truly
Beautiful: But, finicky