Friday, September 16, 2005

"Prayerful Moment:" An Easy Habit to Break

Yes, it’s true. As I mentioned previously, Selene and I were nothing but common housekeepers when we were in undergrad school. It was a perfect little business we had going for the most part. Our fame spread across the grey set, and pretty soon little old ladies in ginormous Cadillac’s were cruising the college campus just to get a chance to bump into one of us and contract our employment.

For the most part, these ladies lived in clean houses already. It’s no lie; most every week the meticulous vacuuming lines that I labored to make the week before remained untouched…as if nary a house slipper shuffled its way across the carpet the entire week.

Well there was Matty Catootsa…that job I did alone. Not even in one of those cop shows where they break into a house and take the kids away because of the uninhabitable conditions of the home have I seen living conditions worse than this. Although Matty and her family did flush the toilet – they had that going for them. Still, the mounds of pee filled diapers lying around the bathroom and bedroom floors from the six-year-old bed wetter were a bit of a distraction each week.

But I digress…

Selene and I made good money for three hours of our time per home. Most weekends one of our clients would throw in a nice homemade lunch as well.

Marillis was one of the sweetest ladies a person could ever meet. She had a soft southern drawl, and one could detect just the slightest warble in her voice. She was a tiny, fragile woman too; almost a q-tip frame with a puff of white hair on top – the kind of woman that you are almost afraid to hug for fear of breaking her.

One morning, Selene was in the front room dusting the extensive brass candlestick collection while I was dusting sundry knickknacks in the back bedrooms. She had a habit of beginning the dusting there. I knew immediately there was something wrong, however, when Selene stepped into the room doe eyed and on the verge of completely falling apart.

I seriously wondered at first if she found the husband – in the last stages of emphysema – dead in one of the bedrooms.

“What’s wrong? What happened?” I pleaded.

“Oh man. Oh man. Something happened. I don’t know what happened. I mean I didn’t mean too. Oh, this is bad. This is very, very bad,” Selene mumbled in an almost catatonic state.

“What?! What happened?!”

“I can’t say. Just come here and look.”

She led me into the front room where she had been dusting and parked me in front of the fireplace mantle. At first I didn’t notice. There were at least fifty different kinds and sizes of brass candlesticks on that mantle, and I didn’t see anything wrong with any of them. They just stood there erect and lifeless as always.

And then I spied the problem as I scanned the perimeter of the collection. There it was with hands folded reverently as if caught in mid prayer.…a headless porcelain Lladro Nun statue tipped at a forty-five degree angle and gently resting her stump of a neck on the corner of a brass candlestick. The holy head sat neatly below, resting quietly on it’s newly severed stump.

I wondered silently if there was a special place in purgatory for nun killers. And then I burst out laughing. It was really one of the funniest sights I’d ever seen.

Of course Selene didn’t think it was so funny, particularly as she considered how much it would cost to replace this expensive collectible statue.

When Marillis returned home, Selene confessed through her tears her accidental misdeed. Marillis thought nothing of it.

Later, Marillis confessed to me, “Oh Selene shouldn’t worry about that little ol’ statue. It’s only worth about a hundred dollars. And anyway, thems just things, honey. You can’t take ‘em with ya when ya die.”

All I could think of in the moment was, “A HUNDRED DOLLARS?! That would take us four weeks to make enough money to pay her back!”

But Marillis knew something about life and possessions that we were only beginning to understand that day. Life is definitely more than the things we can accumulate, and it took a fragile little old lady to give us a glimpse of what it meant to be content regardless.

(To see the little Nun statue, enter the number 01015500 in “Search by Reference” space at the Lladro site.)


Mimi said...

looks like the flying nun to me!

Selene said...

all the lladro nuns look like that

Michael Jack said...

nice play on words in your title. I can actually get that joke.

bluesugarpoet said...

Thanks for noticing; what can I say, the idea for the double speak was