By Linda Keenan
My beloved father-in-law died at the age of 67 due to lung cancer. He smoked three packs of Lucky Strikes every day for more than 50 years; the unfiltered killers had taken the expected toll. That’s not the funny thing that happened. He was the youngest of 10 siblings so he had a lot of relatives – sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandchildren of all ages. The church was filled to capacity for his funeral mass.
After the funeral, the entire family got together for a luncheon at the clubhouse where Aunt Margaret lived. Yes, all 60 of us in a room crammed with long tables end to end – not a lot of room to move, but the kids found space to run around.
There was enough food for a small army – appetizers, munchies, sandwich fare and salads. An hour later, the food was replaced with desserts . . . sumptuous sweets of all kinds!
Maybe that was the problem with four-year-old Joey – too much sugar. He’d managed to sneak under and behind the dessert table. From that vantage point, he grabbed two gigantic handfuls of luscious dark chocolate brownies, and no one saw him. What he could not stuff his mouth with, he crammed into the pockets of his brand new beige-colored jeans – all of the pockets. He was smart enough to know that he might not get another opportunity like that one!
Joey’s mommy was talking with my mother-in-law when she caught sight of the greasy brown stains seeping through the pockets of her son’s jeans. She called him over to “speak” to him. He ran to his mommy and adopted his most innocent face; the look he was well-practiced at showing off, especially at times like this.
He said, “Yes, Mommy?”
Before his mommy answered, my mother-in-law (Joey’s grandmother) broke in and asked, “Joey, are you having a good time playing with your cousins?”
He did not answer because he looked down and noticed that brown stains had given his secret stash away. He was trying to think of a reply to the questions his mommy would now obviously be asking him. Hmm . . . maybe he’d say he couldn’t find the plates and he was delivering the brownies to his little cousins. Yeah, that’s what he’d say, he was being helpful. She liked it when he was being helpful.
Then he heard her stern voice, “Joey! Your grandmother asked you a question and you did not answer. That’s very rude. Apologize right now, she’s sad because her husband died.”
Joey was outraged. In his most indignant voice, he said, “Why do I have to apologize? I didn’t kill him!!”
Laughter filled the room and Joey’s crime of stealing brownies that stained his new jeans was forgotten. He didn’t understand why it was funny that he had in fact not killed grandpa, but since his mommy was laughing, he decided he was not in trouble.
Writing, along with helping others is her lifelong passion. Linda is currently writing a program to assist young people discover their own talents and abilities.