Flat Stanley headed for Tennessee early Sunday morning amidst media-hyped promises of ice, snow, sleet, thunderstorms and genuinely disasterous weather from Arkansas to Maine. None of which materialized, and all of which was dismissed as "potential" by weather mis-casters. Cresting a hill just north of Harrisonburg, travelers on I-81 south are treated to a surreal vision of three giant white crosses, with a giant US flag strategically posted on either side of the center cross. The road curves, the crosses disappear from the horizon and the radio fades from one Sunday morning sermon to the next.
Just outside Nashville, two elderly sisters enjoy coffee at McDonalds. While Flat Stanley impatiently waits for two managers and a server to notice that customers are waiting in line while they chat, one of the sisters floats joyously to the counter. A second server floats over the the woman, who blessses the girl with a beatific smile. The woman's face is framed by a halo of white curls and finished with a fall of straight white hair reaching the middle of her back.
The server is a girl about 17 years old. She says, "Why, yea-us, Ahh doo know whah yew-eew ahr-ruh smahlin', May-uhm. Eet's b'cawz of the Lawd Jay-Zus Chrahst." The angel-lady blesses the girl with a smile and the girl says, "Ah know this b'cawz she tol' me ovuh they-uh." And a third server smiles. They all smile together.
Flat Stanley hopes the love feast ends soon so she can get her coffee and get back on the road.
An old guy bumps his way to the front of the line while FS waits for the cream that didn't come with her coffee. He orders 13 freshly-baked oatmeal raisin cookies. "These cookies ahr-ruh fray-ush, suh. Ahh jis' bay-kt 'em mah-sef. Ahh praw-miss." The old guy decides to accept the promise, FS gets her creamers, the angel is satisfied with her evangelistic outreach efforts, and the day continues.
The radio tunes in two channels. One is a woman preacher. She ends most of her sentences with a loud "HUH." FS has heard of such preaching. It's a treat to hear it in person. The other channel is a male preacher who ends his plural nouns and final words with "zuh" and "uh." "The crowd-ZUH gathered round-uh." "The Bible tell US-zuh that this is true-uh."
On Tuesday, Hospice volunteers pay their regularly scheduled visit. Today it is Joshua and Debbie. Joshua thinks he's moonlighting as a hospice worker. In real life he's a preacher for, no surprise, a small non-denominational church which was the focus of FS posts a few years ago.
Mr. Josh is a greedy collector of visual images for private contemplation at his leisure. He walks in, appraises FS, and consumes what he sees. Being quick to pick on Mr. Josh's kind of perverted energy, FS retreats to a corner and lets the hospice workers conduct their interview with their patient. The creep leaves, taking with him a scrotum-load of fresh images for whatever goes on in his gummy little brain. In his church life, he's also a youth worker. Someday the world will allow people like him to be sexually neutralized on the strength of what people like FS know. Maybe that's what heaven is.
Anyway, Day Two of FS Relief Care is half over. The days outside are glacier-fresh; the days inside are smokey and filled with arranging blankets, lighting an invalid's cigarrette and listening to one crime-show after another. The cable channel shuts off at 3 AM and if it's a good night, the patient sleeps on, giving FS a few quiet hours on an air mattress.
God bless, and FS really means this, God bless those who are full-time caretakers of the terminally ill. Thanks, Sis, for being the one who's doing this.