A commotion at the cemetery

Published 11:10 am Monday, February 27, 2017

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

Sounds at the general store in the Thicket tend to be predictable. Most likely heard after weekday refills of coffee are consumed is the shuffle of dominoes. Four geezers usually are seated at the game table by 8:30 or 9:00. Menial chores–described as pressing upon arrival– suddenly become trivial.

As the game begins, they laugh about threats of bodily harm to be inflicted if any player is caught cheating. Further, they agree that if a pesky fly becomes a bother, the “high domino” drawn will determine who has to fetch the swatter.

They are, you see, clustered purposely in their own little world, as if cares and chores are put away in “one of these days” files.

The convivial mood shatters, though, when one of the old-timers asks, “Did you guys hear about the commotion out at the cemetery the other day?” The question penetrates like Cupid’s arrow on a junior high playground. For the moment, the game stops. There is much head-scratching; none in the trio had ever heard of such. Announcement of the landing of a space vehicle from a far-away planet would not have piqued curiosities more.

My Uncle Mort, now nearer to 105 than 104, shows particular interest. Every time there’s a funeral–three, sometimes four times a year–he avails himself of opportunities to remind folks of his family’s donation of 10 acres for the cemetery almost a century ago. Every year since childhood, he joins others in the Thicket annually for what they call “decoration day.” Participants bring yard tools to spruce things up. After their toil, there’s dinner on the ground and hymn-singing under the old tabernacle as the sun gives way to twilight.

No, the other three players have NOT heard about any cemetery commotion. It is, after all, a secluded place far out on the dirt roads that nobody passes on the way to town. Mouths agape, the trio seems transfixed in a momentary “tell us more” state of mystification.

The geezer posing the question clears his throat, as if anticipating his uninterrupted monologue of revelation. For him, it is a golden moment; rarely is attention there so “rapt.”

“A feller claims to go out to the cemetery regularly to check on his wife’s grave, just to make sure vandals haven’t disturbed the headstone or inflicted assorted damage,” he begins.

One of the listeners heckles, “Yeah, enlightened self-interest probably, since your name–with date to be filled in–is on the same marker.” He is shushed.

   “As he gets out of the car,” the speaker continues, “he accidentally hits the panic button on his ignition key, and the car horn blasts away. The befuddled guy pushes every button in sight, but nothing works.

Minutes pass. The widower prays no one was in hearing distance and that no motorist will pass. His prayers are answered.

He scrambles to open the glove compartment to peruse the operator’s manual. He rips into the envelope, still sealed after nearly almost a decade of car ownership.”

Laughter commences. The listeners imagine a sun-splashed day, birds chirping, and tree limbs swaying in the gentle breeze. Then, jolting the pastoral scene, there’s unseemly high-volume honking that won’t end.

Finally, the old duffer–after 10 minutes that seem like a week–tries re-inserting his key into the ignition. Eureka! It works.

Customary silence reigns again.

   Then comes the bombshell. “The old guy was me,” he admits.

Guffaws continue as play resumes. “There’s something in the Bible about the dead in Christ rising at the trumpet’s sound,” someone says. “But, it seems like a car horn draws no response.”

A fly buzzes nearby. They draw for high domino. Wouldn’t you know it? The guy admitting the cemetery misadventure turns up a six-five. He begins searching for the fly swatter, looking first under a stack of old newspapers.


   Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.