Today was another funeral. This is my fourth within the last
five months. I have another one next week. I have several
neatly pressed black outfits ready to go.
What’s going on in my life? One death after the other.
I wonder Who’s next? as I drive to Immaculate
Church with Aunt Lucy, who can barely see above the dashboard,
and my mother humming HALLELUJAH in the backseat.
I try to cancel the thought, but it comes back with a face and name–Dragon Lady.
Attending these funeral services, I have noticed that
the people I don’t care much for
live a lot longer than the people I prefer
being with. Guess, I’ll have to enjoy their company at the cemetery.
Why is that? I have had my share of hugging
and caring for miserable relatives.
Can they just leave now?
But, time after time the lesson keeps coming back to this–
the importance of doing what it takes
to love your enemy.
Betty, a relative of mine, is a thoughtful person.
She sends birthday cards to my boys. And she is a fabulous cook.
However, she loves to bark at people.
Two weeks ago, I visited Betty at her home.
She welcomes me with
“You’re late! Why didn’t you call? The only time
you visit me and you are late. Answer me!”
I give Dragon Lady a tight hug and feel proud of myself for
resisting her dark side. I tell her, “Traffic was bad, but
we still have time to get flowers at Safeway, and then
go see your friend in the nursing home.”
“I not feeling well now,” she says getting up from her recliner.
I tread lightly, keeping my cool . . . what I really want to
do is get in my car and never return, ever.
“Lola,” she says. “Follow me. I always
have my Christmas gifts wrapped before Labor Day.
I want you to know where I keep them
just in case I will not be here. I’m dying,
Really? And when is that, may I ask?
She’s been dying for the last 26 years!
And NO . . . she doesn’t have cancer or Parkinson’s Disease. She is as healthy as a Kentucky Derby thoroughbred.
As I sing Amazing Grace during the church service, I think
Why doesn’t Dragon Lady go? Why did my uncle have to die?
He was a gentle-mannered man and always baked my favorite
custard during the holidays.
I know to love my enemies
I have to be bigger than myself. They are so lonely
and miserable. But, I also know my boundaries
with people like Betty.
I know deep in my heart it’s OK to love them
at arms length with no guilt attached.
I don’t have to visit them every two weeks, once
a year will do or maybe never.
It’s hard to always give it my all when it comes to
the Bitter Bettys of the world. I resent their
entitlement attitude, but I want to learn from them, too.
When I’m with someone
who is crazy, bitter, and unhappy, I need your guidance to stay level headed, positive, and centered.
Help me not be like them.