Generally speaking, I’m not an aficionado of religious services. About the only aspect I do appreciate is the segment where individual worshipers ask the entire congregation to send their thoughts and prayers to an ailing loved one. Thanks to one such shout out, my wife and I have experienced a week-long deluge of well wishes from friends and neighbors alike.
The flood of phone calls, door knocks, and gift baskets commenced as a trickle early in the afternoon this past Sunday. First, Sophia began fielding phone calls from churchgoing acquaintances wishing me a speedy recovery, and asking if they could do anything to help during this time of need. That night, and at least once daily since, she’s answered our doorbell to find a neighbor bearing a platter of food, ostensibly so Sophia could concentrate on caring for me instead of cooking. We’ve also received a number of beautiful flower arrangements and gift baskets, all of which were accompanied by heartfelt get well cards.
Admittedly, I’m touched by this outpouring of affection. I feel like the ghost who attends his own funeral, only to discover that more people than he’d imagined actually tolerated him. Under the circumstances, I hate the thought of misleading any of our supporters. But what else can I do?
When a caring neighbor takes the time to bake a tray of lasagna for us, I feel churlish explaining that her efforts are for naught. It seems more charitable to simply thank the nice lady for her thoughtfulness and prayers and send her on her way … than to admit there’s nothing wrong with me. As I see it, none of the parishioners who’ve reached out to us need to be burdened with long-winded explanations and clarifications. I’m sure these good Samaritans would rather take pleasure in my miraculous return to health than hear they’ve been duped by premature claims of illness.
One thing’s for certain; there will not be any repeat of this “incident.” Owing to the browbeating Sophia meted out, her mother finally saw the error of her ways. Last night, the old lady even swore on a bible that no matter how certain she feels I’m going to Hell, she’ll never again stand up in church and ask her fellow worshipers to send out their thoughts and prayers for: “my sick son-in-law, Richard Stern, and his suffering wife, my daughter Sophia.”