Immediate Family Only, Part II: The Hairdresser

September 18, 2006

Let me just say first that I’m not opposed to preachers in the abstract. There are a few here in Rabbit HIll in whom I happen to place a great deal of trust. Men of character, energy, and compassion, who truly aspire to be men of God.

It’s a noble and worthy profession. I’m just convinced that about half of the openings in that particular field are currently held by either morons or displaced used car salesmen.
Which brings me back to my new cousin Dan, whose lengthy ministrations I narrowly avoided on Monday night. Just as soon as I’d tacked the “Immediate Family Only” sign to the hospital door and pushed it shut, who should arrive but the Reverend Dan, his belly folded comfortably into a pastel golf shirt tucked into crisp khaki pants.

I guess the thing that bothered me most about Dan, aside from his generally unctuous demeanor, was his sense of entitlement. His wife was a cousin and once, forty or so years previous, had been a neighbor and close with my aunts. the Reverend Dan, however, hardly knew any of us. Of course that didn’t stop him from barging in on us. He didn’t knock, didn’t even pause at the threshold. “I told Spiffie I’d stop by,” he said. “And see how you all were doing.”


Like a bright light shining on the distant horizon, this one.

We were doing as we had been doing. I was holding one of Grandma’s hands. Aunt Bobbie was holding the other one. Every once in a while one of us would speak to her. Just so she’d know that we were there.

Dan stood about four feet from the bed and really didnt’ say anything until the passing of three or four quiet minutes confirmed his essenial uselessness.

And when the likes of RevDan has his uselessness confirmed, he has only one recourse.

“Let’s hold hands and pray,” he said. “And then I’ll go,” he said.


I finally gave up on enforcing the immediate family only policy less than an hour later when a plump redhead opened the door and took two tentative steps into the room. “Lill said I could come in,” she said.

“Hi Florence,” Aunt Bobbie said.

“Who’s that?” I asked.

“Mom’s hairdresser,” Bobbie said.

I knew at that point that if the hairdresser could gain admittance, resistance was futile. I thought my grandma deserved some peace and quiet as she struggled in vain to stay with us. And to see some distant cousins sit and watch her like the inevitable crowd gathering after a car wreck was too much for me to take.

But Florence fixed Grandma’s hair every third saturday for more than twenty years. One time, she said, Grandma brought her a sweet potato pudding. Everybody who came into the room during those long days – family or not – had been touched by Grandma in some way, and as much as I wanted tranquility and dignity to accompany her departure, I was not the only one who loved her or who got love from her. So they came anyway.



Grace. Love. Comfort.



One comment

  1. I made camp stew. Are you coming over?

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