It’s getting dark. All systems go. Shots administered, dinner over and smelly leftovers removed. All is at peace. Quiet at last.
Until the family returns. Shirley has been rejoined by her clan, who pile into her room like lemmings jumping over a cliff. They station themselves around her, and someone announces “This is Father Joe.”
This wakes me up. Alert, what is going on now over there? Soon it becomes evident that F.J. the man in the black dress, is prepping for an operation not of this earth. I hear the intonations of casting a spell to make Shirley more presentable to her Maker. I hear the amens and the Latin supplications.
Apparently, Shirley is in pretty bad shape.Notwithstanding her son leaning over into my half of the room and advising me that he had had these prayers said over him over 40 years ago and look, he is still here. I guess he saw the panic in my eyes.
If Shirley got these last rites, or extreme unction, or as I would call it – family paranoia that the Devil hisself is a’ comin’ to claim her soul tonight, she must be pretty darn near Death’s door. In fact, I can smell and sense Death lurking just outside my fifth floor window, beyond the lovely scenery of the park and mansions across the river. This is not good. I can’t very well avoid the sound and aura of the man in black mumbling away stuff that should have been left in the ancient texts from whence it came.
As a good ex-Catholic girl, there is a limit to my annoyance. Let her have her sad, morbid joke at my expense. The family seems oblivious that there is a person not 10 feet away, who is under the influence of no less than that many agents, who is getting the wrong impression.
Research reveals that extreme unction, while good for the purposes of the dying, is actually just a precaution. It will heal the soul, erase the sins that are accumulated there, to make the soul acceptable for entrance into Heaven. But this is all psycho-bullshit to me, and I’m scared silly that Shirley’s ghost will thrust aside that curtain once the family exits to go to their dinner, and castigate me for not enjoying her sacramental hiatus.
A few therapeutic hours, time passed, a new day beginning, and Shirley and her family are still there. What exciting sacrament or ritualistic paranoia will come up now that Shirley has survived her ticket to Heaven? Only time and several more shots of morphine will tell.