The Unexpected Ministry in Misunderstanding (Time to Eat.)

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:

October-ish

October-ish. That’s how I’d describe the last few days here in Michigan. Of course, those few days were sandwiched between an oppressive humidity wave and today’s June like warmth and afternoon winds.

Anyway, the weather is what’s put me back on track. It was October and Jeff had died and things were moving along around me; absolutely progressing without me.

After the funeral planning, the funeral pants and the arrival of my mother, came more things I’d never thought of. More situations I’d never imagined.

Again, I have no idea how this happened, but there was to be another pre-funeral sort of planning thing. I couldn’t figure out what could possibly be left to plan. I walked into this one blindly.

Somehow, I learned that there would be light refreshments. I couldn’t fathom arriving empty-handed so I bundled up a beautiful, fruit bouquet. In my usual fruitlessness, I’ve searched the web for the name of the company. There are a lot of those companies, now.

After a dozen absolutely wrong search engine responses, I finally deleted: fruit, basket, flower, bouquet. Rethinking my approach, I entered ‘edible.’ Ah, yes. Edible Arrangements!

You wouldn’t think that mattered so much, but I used them for a few years after because they had been so absolutely accommodating.

The order had been placed by a friend in New Jersey, with specific instructions to not include any pineapple. Pineapple pretty much makes up most of the flowers. My arrangement had none, but was still gorgeous and generous.

I haven’t a clue what other refreshments were offered. Or who made them. Or bought them. But, I definitely do remember a necessary cup of Sprite in my possession.

Because, before I’d even made it from the front door through the lobby, I choked on simultaneous laughter and tears.

Quote for the Week:

The Last Laugh

 

I’d been dully sitting there, only half-listening to the murmurs. It seemed most everything had been wrapped up, and I was wondering what the etiquette was for what came next.

Do we go to lunch? Do I go back to Adrian? Do I go somewhere else?

I couldn’t tell you what time it was or even who was sitting to my left.

But, I know who was on my right, and I can tell you exactly when the pandemonium began.

Jeff’s step-mother had been delayed waiting for a pre-scheduled plumbing appointment.

Among her first words, directed to Jeff’s father were, “Your sons!”

“My sons?” Roger baffled back.

“Yes, YOUR sons! The plumber found a girlie magazine when he went behind the wall, to get to the pipes.”

“Behind the wall?” Roger puzzled, pushing back a bit. “How do you know it was one of my sons?”

“Because,” Nevie reasoned, “none of my sons would ever do that!”

Roger looked across to Jeff’s brother. “Did you do that?” he asked.

By the time I processed what the discussion was about, rapid succession flustering moments were piling up.

“No,” he incredulously denied. “I didn’t do that!”

With fast-forward film speed, I’d run through a conversation Jeff and I had rather recently while watching ‘This Old House.’

It seemed they were always finding odd things behind walls. That time, it was a baby shoe.

“That’s so weird and kind of creepy, ” I’d commented. “I mean, how did a baby shoe get behind the wall?”

Acutely aware, I needed to interrupt. Quickly.

So, I called on my grade-school training and solidly raised my hand.

I had to wave it around a bit before I garnered some attention.

“I know,” I announced.

Up until then, I hadn’t spoken much, so, I cleared my throat and announced again to be sure everyone heard me.

“I know who did that.” The room quieted down.

“Jeff told me.” It got a little quieter.

“Jeff told me,” I repeated. “He told me… ‘If Dad and Nevie ever decide to remodel the bathroom, they’re gonna get a big surprise!”

It was Jeff.

For convenience, he’d explained, he’d hidden his late 70’s, misappropriated and highly inappropriate periodical in a conveniently narrow slot between the fixture and the wall.

“Then, one day,” he’d laughed, “It got sealed up!”

In the history of funeral planning, I doubt there’s ever been a session that ended quite like Jeff’s did.

Raucous laughter, table slapping, the shaking of many heads, and one fist aimed amusingly up at heaven.

“That Jeff…” Roger mused. “I guess, he got the last laugh, didn’t he?”

Quote for the Week:2020 03 03 keeping track of weird things heard in life jakorte

 

Slightly Familiar & Fourth

 

Sometimes, if I move a certain way, it recalls the exact physical feeling; the act of turning away, turning my back on Jeff and the eerie finality of walking out our bedroom door.

I got as far as the dining room when the phone I amazingly still had in my grip, rang.

911 was calling me.

Apparently, I was supposed to stay on the line until it could be confirmed help had arrived. Until I was securely handed off to the next step.

I opened the door to find a man already standing in place, ready to move in, so I stepped back.

I registered the familiar face and was bit stupefied by that.

That and the fact that the situation had changed into something; moving, forward, fast.

With the screen door behind him and one foot inside our home, he said something official-sounding announcing he was who he was.

I don’t think I moved.

He told me his partner so-and-so had gone back to the ambulance for more equipment, then bent to grab what was already piled up on the porch.

I don’t think I said anything.

Which may have accounted for the curious look he glanced my way while straightening up.

When his focused eyes took me in, he actually sort-of smiled.

“I thought I recognized this address…” he said.

 

I couldn’t blame him for the almost grin. Jeff was a memorable rider, always joking. Even with acute pancreatitis.

Even the night that Nannee blew her airhorn. There was a lot of laughter that night. From everyone – Jeff, me, the crew of two. Nannee, as well.

This would be his fourth trip to our home.

 

“Yes.” I agreed with his observation.

A full beat passed before I added, “I can’t wake him up.”

“Where is he?”

“In bed.”

He glanced around.

I realized he was waiting for direction, so I led the way.

 

Quote for the Week: 2019 10 29 Adding a slightly familiar element to an unexpected jakorte

He would have laughed… (beware – graphic, dark-humor truth.)

Warning: graphic, dark-humor truth. He would have laughed. You might, too. You might not, though. 

Peripherally, I spied Jeff’s ever-present mega-jug from Speedway on his night table. I tested the weight out, concluding there was water in it.

Actually, I didn’t conclude there was water – I really just concluded liquid. It likely could have been what I call soda or what he called pop. I assumed it was water, which is why I decided to pull the lid off the monster mug and dump the entire contents on Jeff’s head.

It was water.

There wasn’t as much of it as I’d thought.

It certainly wasn’t the deluge I was hoping for.

He didn’t wake up sputtering.

“Are you doing it?” the operator asked, referring to the mirror test she’d requested.

“Oh, my God!” I cried. “How did this happen? He’s not waking up! How could this have happened?”

Almost out-of-body, hearing myself and thinking; cliché. Soap opera style dramatics.

Frozen, fleetingly, I wondered: was drama reenactment of reality or was my reality a reflection drama?

Sensing my conclusion, I was assured, the ambulance was on the way. She said she’d remain on the line until it arrived.

Having endured Jeff’s preference for based-on-true-events TV, I’d either half-watched or got completely sucked into countless crime-solving and autopsy shows.

A horrifying scenario popped into my still grappling brain.

“They’re going to think I drowned him!”

“Oh, my God!” I blurted aloud, in response to my silent reasoning. I scooted around the bed.

“Do you hear the ambulance?” The voice surprised me out of my own head. I was shocked to find I was still holding my phone – firmly plastered to my ear.

“No. I don’t.” I replied. Swiping a washcloth from the counter, I scrambled back to Jeff.

I used the maroon square to swipe Jeff’s wet face and hair.

My inner dialog continued. “Oh, no! If he starts breathing, inhaling water could kill him!”

I pushed a small corner through the tiny opening between his teeth, trying to sop up any of the gushed liquid that might have run into his mouth.

“They should be there soon…” came consolingly over the line.

Well past the verge of hysteria, another terrifying possibility crossed my mind.

“Oh, my GOD!” I wailed, wildly recalling the frequency with which the tiniest of fibers had helped solve mysteries and finger murderers.

Fortunately, only heard within the confines of my scrambling head, my error screamed, “They’re going to think I smothered him!”

Quote for the Week: 2019 10 15 The brain works with remarkable speed to process jakorte