A Lesson Learned Well

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

I once stood at my grandmother's side, holding her hand. We were standing on the steps of our little church after services. A new member of church had been introduced to the congregation. An older man who had been a sea captain in the navy and had retired. He had been glancing and smiling at my grandmother all through the service. She had paid him no mind, but it did make me curious.

My grandmother had red hair and very blue eyes that could go soft or cold depending upon her mood. We had been visiting with some of the other members of the church as we exited. We made it almost to the first step of the church when the man came rushing up behind us and tapped my grandmother on the shoulder. She turned around. She smiled very sweetly and introduced herself and then me. The man said hello to me and then proceeded to take her hand, bend down, and kissed it.
"Woo, said the man; you smell good for an old lady."
Grandmother tightened her grip on my hand and replied. "You can go straight to hell in a hand basket. But first I am going to give you a piece of my mind. Don't ever refer to me as an old anything. Anybody that would say such a thing, at the drop of a hat. I don't even know you, and you just insult me like that. You are nothing but an old goat yourself. Now, you son of a Siberian Sea Cook; leave me alone." We instantly turned back around and hurried towards the parking lot. I glanced back, and the man was still standing there with his mouth open. I glanced up at my grandmother's face, and it was very red. She was muttering "old woman" over and over under her breath.  Then she said.  "Oh, Hoover Dam-it, I lost my temper on Sunday again.  I wish I were Catholic, I'd be saying some Hail Marys about now."  She tugged on my hand to hurry me up.  Then she chuckled.  She said, "If I did say Hail Mary, she would probably say, Hell yes, right back at me."  She looked at me as if I should understand what she just said.
At this point in my training, I was still not sure about hell. I had learned it was some place "down" somewhere. I had reasoned that it was not a good place because grandmother never sent anyone there who was not the Son of a Siberian Sea Cook.I had no comprehension of what a "Sea" was but knew it must be edible or no one would cook it.  This was her favorite name for people she did not like. I kept quiet. I had learned to keep silent during one of these episodes. Then I thought about what she had said to him. I had no idea what a hand basket was but had decided, if I was going to go to hell, would not a basket be a good way to travel. Tells you what I knew. I wondered if he turned into a goat when he got to hell, or if grandmother needed glasses. I did not know what to think about a piece of her mind. She was always giving those away.... mostly to the Son of Siberian Sea cooks.
Grandmother told my mother about her meeting with the man. That is when we found out he was a retired captain in the navy. I tried to make my grandmother feel better. "You do smell awfully good." She smiled sweetly to me and gave me a hug. I decided maybe it made a difference who said it. Then I said, "Maybe all he knows how to do is cook Siberian Seas." The spell was broken. Everyone laughed and grandmother's sweet smile came back. I was so happy.
This memory came back to me after one of the wildlife people who had come to do another snake round up had gotten rude with me.He was greeted at the door by Oscar. Without so much as a how do you do, he picked up a broom I had leaned against the wall in order to answer the door and proceeded to try and hit Oscar with it.
He yelled, "Don't worry, I will get this vicious squirrel."
I tried to grab the broom and missed. I yelled, "Stop, that's Oscar."
"A squirrel? You have a squirrel as a pet?" Then he suddenly felt the broom handle being tugged as he realized Sweet Pea had grabbed it and was wiggling it out of his hand. Then under his breath, as he sat down, (I had signaled for him to have a seat), I heard him say."You ole ding bat."
I smiled very sweetly as I said, "Now, watch." Sweet Pea lowered her head. Oscar scampered up her nose and onto his back. They then walked over to where he was sitting. Sweet Pea licked his hand. He instantly grabbed a tissue and started wiping his hand. "Get away from me, you mangy dog." I then had a flash back of my grandmother on the church steps.
"Young man, you don't know how lucky you are today.  It was just this morning I promised the preacher I would stop hanging people on Sunday.  I also had to promise not to shoot nasty young men anymore."
He suddenly realized he might be in trouble.  He changed from his slouchy position and sat up straight.
I said, "You can go straight to hell in a hand basket, but first I am going to give you a piece of my mind. You are the snake, you don't need to look for any. To come into my home and at the drop of a hat you insult me, start trying to kill my pets, and then have the gall to call me a ding bat." I grinned then said. " You know, all it would take is for me to give one hand gesture, and you might get hurt." His eyes darted to Oscar, still sitting on Sweet Pea's back. He did not see the humor or the sweetness the animals were trying to show him. It was really beyond his comprehension. I suddenly felt sorry for him.
Then, I saw him looking to see if I had on hearing aids. He was beginning to realize he was not the one with the upper hand here. I said. "There is one more member of my family you need to meet. I cracked the bedroom door just enough for him to get a good look. "I want you to meet Precious," who was doing her best "I am a 125 pound pit bull bombshell"...dance and barking, "Come on in... I have not had lunch yet."
I closed the bedroom door and then turned to the guy and gestured to the front door.  Then I smiled and in a calm voice said, "I look like a nice old lady... but I am not. I learned from the best and I have gotten pretty good at it myself."
I then thought about my Christian upbringing. The thought stopped my anger.  With all the sweetness I could muster.I looked at him and said, "I don't know if you are having a bad day or what. Granted, you don't often come in to find a squirrel in the house, and I appreciate your efforts to spare me any danger. I think the best thing for you to do is think about what you would think if someone treated your grandmother the way you treated me. Would you call her a ding bat?"I noticed he was shaking his head.
 "She is a ding bat too. All old people are."
 I then smiled and said I wish for you a very long life and someone just like you as a caregiver."  He stopped for a second and I could tell he understood what I was saying. I added, "Don't be surprised if the term 'ole goat' does not come up during that time."  I could see him shaking his head as he headed for his car.
I called the company after he left and was assured the young man would not be returning. Apparently, I was not the only one who had complained about his manner. I was the only one he was still talking about when he returned to the office. The lady on the phone said, "He wanted to know what the Son of a Siberian Sea Cook was." We both laughed.
I was always taught to respect my elders. You would be surprised how many young whipper-snappers I have had to teach since I retired.

Submitted: June 16, 2021

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