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Carol Perkins: Playing by the Rules

By: Carol Perkins

Guy was talking to his sister on the phone. I heard him say, "If he wants to participate in life, he is going to have to play by the rules." I suddenly realized how profound Guy could be with his observances. "Did you make that up?" I asked him.

"I do have some deep thoughts occasionally," he replied.

Naturally, I thought about the meaning of this statement outside the context he was using it and came up with the notion that playing by the rules is definitely a necessity for living in society, but sometimes we set our own rules and they can get in the way of life. By inflecting certain rules on ourselves we can often be caught in unusual situations. Here is an example of that.

One of my "rules" is that I tried to do what I am expected to do. Expected to do by how my consciences will punish me with guilt if I don't. One of those self-inflicted rules is to visit the funeral home when I know I should. Not that I don't want to go when someone dies, but honestly, who WANTS to go to the funeral home? Even the dead don't want to go.

Here is how my life "rules" of doing what I am supposed to do turned out to be a little strange. I didn't know the lady well, but she was the mother of someone with whom I worked. Out of consideration for my co-worker, I wanted to pay my respects when she passed away. I waited until an hour before the service, which is not really a good time to go if you barely know a person because that is when many others also go. However, this was the only time I could find, so I went in the door to the main chapel, signed the book, and began my journey to the front. At first I didn't see anyone I knew, but within a few minutes I heard, "Miss Perkins, I am so glad to see you and thank you so much for coming."

While she was talking I was trying to figure out how she was connected to the family. She then turned to what later I would know was her sister, "Jackie, come here and say hello to Miss Perkins." This was another one of my former students and yet another piece of the puzzle I couldn't put together. Nowhere did I see my co-worker.

"Did you know Mama?" the first girl asked.

"Not well, but I wanted to pay my respects to the family. She was a sweet lady. I work with Dell. " I knew something wasn't quite right when they looked at each other as to say, "Who is Dell?"

Jackie and her sister led me toward the casket and soon I was looking down at a woman I had never seen before in my life. "She looks very nice," I said as I hugged them and again told them how sorry I was.

"Thank you for coming," they said continuing to pat my arms.

I quickly retrieved a "program" from the sign-in area to learn who the woman was I had just visited. I was in the wrong place with the wrong corpse and the wrong mourning daughters. The lady I had gone to see was in the other chapel. I walked across the hall where I recognized the corpse and the family surrounding it. Whether I knew the other lady or not, I had definitely made an impression on Jackie and her sister that I would come to their mother's visitation. I hope they never know the difference.

This story was posted on 2015-02-08 08:32:38
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