Thursday, November 04, 2004


This business is not all grim. John is 97 years old and is married to his second wife, Jean. She’s just a young thing and his children don’t approve of the marriage. These wild mid-life crisis can be hard on families and the children are having a tough time getting used to their stepmother, she is, after all, only 76. Most of the kids are in their 70’s and mom is the right age to be their sister (for God’s sake) it’s a scandal that they’ve had to deal with for the last 25 years. The family isn’t sure this little fling will last and this hussy will probably break dad’s heart sooner or later. What’s worse is that dad is a preacher and marrying a woman that young will probably ruin his ministry some day. (It’s just not the decent thing for a man of God to do).

John is indeed a preacher and learned his craft under the great Billy Sunday. And he can certainly preach. One of the delights of my visits is to get him fired up enough to preach. He has a thousand-mile stare that comes over him as he sinks into the rhythm of a real Southern evangelist tent preacher with a rich, booming voice to match. John has enough Bible memorized to write his own version and he quotes freely with only a little hesitation to give the words time to maneuver the calcification of his timeworn mind. The connections he makes across passages tend to be a little mixed up at his age but for the most part he could probably still hypnotize a congregation – given enough Geritol.

This couple is a delight to visit because they are very much in love. I went into see them just last week and asked John what he’s been up to. He got a little smile on his face and she laughed and said “Yeah, Honey, (She says “honey” with a real North Carolina mountain accent that sounds much sweeter than it looks in print) why don’t you tell the chaplain what you’ve been up too. John laced his fingers and laid his hands on his tummy and said in mock dignity, “You see Chaplain, what my wife is referring to is my attempt to clean my hearing aids in the most efficient manner.”

Jean, who could not contain herself, was already laughing, “Yeah, Chaplain. It was efficient. He soaked his hearing aids along with his teeth.”

“John! Is that true? You soaked your hearing aids?”

“Yes, Chaplain, it’s true but my question is, why would that woman ask me to tell the story and then go on and tell it herself?”

By this time Jean and I were laughing through tears and John was grinning through his clean white dental plate. “And,” Jean choked out, “he claims to hear better now than before he soaked them.”

I love it.


At Sunday, 07 November, 2004 , Blogger Marjorie said...

I'm so glad you're back! What a happy post.

At Monday, 08 November, 2004 , Blogger Meredith said...

A wonderful, heartwarming, chaplain post!
Thank you, Ken.

At Thursday, 11 November, 2004 , Blogger Nurse Mia said...

What a charming couple!


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