Monday, January 31, 2005

amazing grace

ever have that bit of orneriness that you're involved in that you just can't live down for a long time -- if ever? well, i have too. i know you're amazed to hear that, especially those of you that don't know me well! so at some points in my life i have been involved in some orneriness and even had the idiocy to let my children see this. i guess i didn't realize that children have the memory of elephants, especially when one of them was very preturbed at my actions. our time together at church yesterday brought up one of these crazy bits of orneriness from my past.

the last few weeks have included several old time hymns in the service, many that we sang at the church i grew up in. this sunday's service included those old hymns as well, including amazing grace. i have always loved that song, both in church and out, but i was involved in a bit or orneriness with that song a few years ago that some people haven't forgotten. as soon as we started singing amazing grace in church, my daughter leaned over and said, "i still remember the time you sang that for grandpa. he could've wrung your neck for that!" after that comment, i was no longer focused on the song or on church, but i had envisioned the scenario in my mind . . . .

summer was 9 years old that spring, with the other grandchildren stairstepped down at 7, 6, 5, and 2 years old. my 2 kids were the oldest of the grandchildren and the 3 yougest ones were my brother's kids. they all played many days together at my parents' farm, making up adventures and discovering activities. no, they weren't always safe things to do, but the kids were always having fun! one day, summer came running into my mother, crying and talking real loud and excited, to tell her that two of the new little kittens were dead and in the front yard. summer was a cat lover and so was her grandma, and leaving these little kittens out in the front yard was just not going to happen. my mom turned to my dad and said, "danor, you'll need to get those kittens picked up." now, for those of you who don't know my mother, when she has a job that she wants done that she doesn't want to do even though she is perfectly capable of doing it -- we call that a "shit job". and my mom is one of the world's best at assigning "shit jobs".

my dad's latest assignment of dead kitten detail had him just about as excited as a root canal. he went to the shop to get some gloves on and some rags to pick the kittens up w/ and headed out to the front yard. he had no idea when he got this assignment that summer would be following along to make sure he did everything just right. so here was my dad, grumpily marching out to the front yard, followed by the line of children in the dead kitten parade, descending in size from medium to small to toddler. not only was dad not happy w/ this assignment, but he kept looking over at the back door. he was sure mom was watching (also to make sure he did it right) and he had some dirty looks he wanted to send flying her way. well, he was right. mom was standing in the back door watching and so was i. i wasn't to begin w/, but mom was laughing so hard i just had to see what was so funny. after a couple minutes of standing there, laughing and elbowing each other, i decided to prick my dad's ire just a little more. i stepped out on the porch, assumed the posture of someone seriously approaching a monumental task, and began singing amazing grace as loud as i could. and not only was i singing, but i had adapted the singing style of the black choir master -- sliding over and around the notes, dancing, and clapping my hands.

my father's mouth just dropped open in shock as he stared at me. i was almost always on dad's side in any situation, but the sight of the dead kitten parade was enough to make me want to have a little fun even if it was at his expense. i didn't stop w/ the first verse, either. i kept singing for the 200 yards they tromped in the parade to get down to the shed. he unceremoniously tossed the dead kittens into the burn barrel of the trash area on his way into the shed and then distracted the kids w/ pop and candy bars from his refrigerator in the shed. he was still not a happy camper for the rest of the day, even more irritated when he heard mom snicker or snort in her amusement of the afternoon's events.

i didn't enjoy the dead kitten part of this whole scenario, but the vision of all the kids participating in the clean up from the kitten incident was bordering on hysterical. so from that day's vocal performance, i have quite a bit to live down every time someone hears amazing grace. the bad thing for me . . . every time i hear amazing grace, i'm reminded of the dead kitten parade instead of the words/meaning of the song.

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