We were gathered around a tree in her front yard, yanking up saplings and grass-gone-wild by the roots. Ever since her husband got orders for Afghanistan, she’s had to take care of the yard and the house and the two juvenile dogs all by herself.
Then she went and messed up her ankle.
Broke it good.
Now she’s the one in a boot, only it’s not a combat one. It’s just that cumbersome kind that makes it hard to take care of a house, a yard and two dogs who demand attention.
The neighbors from four doors down were there, too. The neighbors, who’ve been faithful to help her, spent their Father’s Day cleaning out her flower bed.
“Is this a weed?” she asked me, pointing to a hairy-looking stalk.
“Yes,” I replied as I pulled it up from sandy soil.
The neighbor gal tossed a clump of stubborn grass into the nearly full trash bin. They were discussing church when I first arrived.
Where do you go to church? asked the neighbor gal.
Yonder over the hill, I replied.
Oh. My mother used to go there, she said. My sister, too.
Really, when? I asked.
Oh. Wow. Perhaps I know her?
I don’t know, she said. Mom has a disease. She’s in a facility east of here now.
Oh. Gosh. I’m sorry. How old is she?
Fifty-four, she said.
That’s my age.
Yeah, the disease makes her flail about.
Oh. Yes. Of course. I know exactly who your mama is. I used to love to watch her worship.
They asked her to leave the church.
Yeah. My sister got a call one day and they asked that she not bring mom back to church because her flailing distracted people.
I am so, so, sorry. That was so wrong. I can’t believe that, I stuttered, embarrassed.
But my mind was racing — who had done this terrible thing?
Who had asked a daughter to please keep her mother and her spastic ways out of the church?
Perhaps the church sign ought to read: Asses always welcome. The handicapped not so much.
And now, here in the dark of night I sit, thinking, pondering. Where’s Don Miller and his confessional booth when you need one most?
If it’s true, and why would anybody make up such a horrific tale, what should my response be?
What would you do if this were your church community?