Thursday, November 03, 2005

My sister's keeper

This is more a story from last night, but I didn't want to tell it there.

Anyway. At St. Spike's we have a parishioner who is suffering from dementia. (I had heard Alzheimer's but it really makes no nevermind what is causing it.) Let me call her Doris, because that is not her name. Doris is married to Jack (also not his name). Jack is in the choir, which means that he normally shows up an hour before the service for rehearsal. Doris used to be in the choir herself (which is how she and Jack met ... awwww) but, while Jack is rehearsing, more or less wanders all around the church. Sometimes someone who is around (another choir spouse, usually) will take Doris in hand and sit her down, but a lot of times she is just roaming freely.

When I am around early myself, I often get annoyed with Jack, because I have work to do and Doris is underfoot. Then I get really farking peeved with myself for my lack of charity especially given my family's history, because poor Jack needs to occasionally have a life of his own and he does by all accounts care tenderly for Doris. I was seriously annoyed this past Sunday, because the choir apparently had an 8:30 call, and I was rather busy myself at 8:30 and kept almost bumping into Doris or stopping to answer her (non-sequitur) questions.

Last night I was sitting on the center aisle, in the last pew. Doris was sitting across the aisle for me by herself. The choir's communion anthem went on for a while, so even those of us in the back got signaled to go up before the choir. (Due to the choir:congo ratio at St. Spike's, we mix up when the choir goes up: beginning, middle, or end.) Normally if the choir goes "first" or "middle", Jack collects Doris, they go up together (often to the healing station first), and he escorts her back to her seat. But last night Jack was, of course, still singing.

The usher and I had one of those non-verbal conversations that could be transcribed as: "Please get Doris back to her seat" "No problem". And sure enough, after Doris got up from the rail, she said, "Now where do I go?" and I said "I know where you are. Follow me." And she followed me like a baby duck follows its momma. (Somewhat shocking role reversal, because she's around my parents' age.)

When I got back I felt not only that I had done my good deed for the day, but was also appreciating that "yeah, we do this, we are a community" in a way that would help keep the uncharitable thoughts at bay in future.


Blogger LutheranChik said...

We have our own resident Difficult Person in our parish. It's taken me a long time to learn patience with his behaviors (standing up during the service, interrupting the pastor to hold forth, usually on Patriotic Thoughts, and also appointing himself official greeter when the service is over and people are leaving). My metanoia moment came on a Sunday when he'd actually been invited to come up and share about his life -- one of our famous "Bag" Sundays. It turned out that he was a Vietam vet, and that his job during the war had been to accompany coffins of dead soldiers back to their hometowns and attend their funerals. Over and over and over again. That put what he said and did into a whole new perspective, I think, for all of us.

November 16, 2005 7:37 PM  

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