Could our timing have been worse??  I think not.  We rolled up the sidewalk just in time for the pastor to open the doors for the pallbearers, readying themselves to carry the casket to the coach. The family was lining up behind the casket.

We just scooted in the open door, past the pall bearers and the family to the other side of the lobby as the funeral home staff ushered out of the Nave of the church those who had come to attend the funeral.  It was the epitome of bad manners.  Sometimes it is not better late than never!

Actually, I pretty much expected that we would embarrass ourselves when we left the house.  The funeral was at 10am.  We left the house at 10:20am with about a ten minute drive to church, depending on the stoplights.  Mary Ann had to take some medicine before we headed toward the door.

The decision was either to embarrass ourselves by arriving at the end of the funeral, or not going.  Mary Ann’s bath aide has a schedule of clients to see each day she works.  It is not a simple matter to just ask that she come earlier, throwing all her other clients off their schedules.

When there is a chronic illness like Parkinson’s that has entered the family, there are consequences.  Among them is the loss of the ability to make and keep plans, to accommodate to external demands.  The disease often rules the schedule.

Having served as Pastor of the congregation for over twelve years, I had known the deceased and family for a long time.  There had been some very challenging times in the family’s story during those years.  I was involved in that story.  This was a chance to see some of the family who had come from very far away.  I could have written a note explaining why we couldn’t make the funeral.  That just did not seem okay to me.  Charlotte had served as a Volunteer with Mary Ann, I had confirmed some of the grandchildren.  I had done a couple of weddings for the family.  The connection seemed too strong to accept that we couldn’t get to the funeral.

I decided that in spite of behaving badly by coming in at the end of the funeral, and the embarrassment that would come with it (embarrassment is a most hated enemy to me), I would not give up the chance to have a few minutes with members of the family.

We had had some practice with this sort of embarrassment when we decided some time ago to go to a morning worship service instead of the evening service. That Sunday morning we arrive in plenty of time to attend the 11:30am service.  The service, of course, is and always has been at 11am.  We had to roll past a group of folks standing on the sidewalk by the door to church.  They had gone to an earlier service and were just socializing as they were heading to the parking lot.  Again, I knew we would be late, but I wanted to hear a newly commissioned Deacon preach (he was great!).  We had a commitment that evening that would not allow us to attend the evening service.

Chronic illness has consequences in day to day life.  Sometimes embarrassment is one of them.  As I have mentioned before, eating in a restaurant often provides opportunity for embarrassment as food often ends up where it is not intended to go.  Using public bathrooms always provides opportunity for embarrassment as I have to find someone to watch the door of the women’s restroom while I help Mary Ann, fearing all the while that someone will come charging in, horrified to see a man in the women’s restroom.

One of my personal challenges is to refuse to give my hatred of being embarrassed the power to control our choices.  We need to be out with people.  One thing our circumstances have taught me is to be less judgmental of others.  Who knows what they are going through, when they do things that seem to be in bad taste or thoughtless or inappropriate? Who knows what they are going through?

Embarrassed?  Yes!  But we’ll live.

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