By Keith Blaney
was getting near the end, just a few weeks before he died, and my
dad was in his hospital bed, totally drugged up on morphine. My
mom was where moms should be at a time like that, right by his side.
there was a knock at the door.
man, who my mother described as a "Holy Roller" poked
his head inside my dad's hospital room. Now, when I hear "Holy
Roller," I picture some sort of colorful singing monk doing
handsprings down a hallway. But that's just me.
me, Ma'am? Would you mind if my friends and I came in and prayed
over the patient for a while?"
over the patient for a while?"
my mom wasn't against the odd prayer from time to time. She even
had two sisters who were nuns, and a brother who was an actual Franciscan
Brother - brother. She knew the drill. She could pray with the best
something wasn't right.
clutching an outdated copy of People Magazine for strength,
and being as diplomatic as only a mother can be, she smiled and
replied, "Uh, no. Thank you very much. I'm sorry. Uh, but,
without warning, my father woke up, from his Rip Van Winkle coma,
for the first time in weeks, and slurred, "Come on in.
Come on in."
"Come on in" they did.
Holy Roller, who my mother had described as the "Head Honcho
Holy Roller," entered the room with five devoted teenage followers.
and gentlemen, The Hospital is proud to present, live, at your death,
SIX TEENAGE CHRISTIANS."
mother was defeated.
father smiled in a way that he would have described as a
"shit-eating grin." He looked as if he'd won some sort
of "grand prize."
Six Teenage Christians circled the bed, joined hands, and began
to pray over my father.
at first you gotta think, "Hey, this is pretty nice. These
are mighty giving Christians." And, they were.
it was the day before Halloween, and all six of the mighty giving
Christians were dressed as giant Crayola crayons.
of the crayons was praying in tongues.
mother stood, mouth wide-open, staring at a scene being played out
in front of her that no nun in any saint-named-school, anywhere,
could have prepared her for, ever.
this "session," my father sat straight up, for the first
time in weeks, and laughed and laughed, and enjoyed every
stupid second of it.
or no drugs, no matter what the situation, Frank Blaney knew
how to appreciate a good laugh.
after this moment in time happened, my mother relayed this story
to me over the phone a thousand miles away. Whether they are the
right words or not, I'm usually not at a loss for them. That time,
I was at a loss.
I could picture, all I could see, were
crayons -- all these
crayons. All the crayons from when I was in grade school, from the
big Crayola box of 64, with the cool-ass sharpener in the back.
he saw the colors. All the colors. The old colors. The more exotic
ones. The ones from far off places with names like "Burnt Umber"
and "Fawn." And the ever-ambiguous first cousins "Violet-Blue,
see, he saw the colors, man. The colors! All the colors, spinning,
in a Jimi Hendrix, Mellow Yellow, Timothy Leary, Lyndon Johnson,
Green Tambourine, Purple Fucking Haze, man.
he never stopped laughing.
mother said that when the Six Teenage Christian Crayons finally
finished praying, "OMINA-AMEN" -- when they began to leave,
my father could be heard pleading, and waving after them, "Come
on back. Come back again."
often do you get a fucking Giant Christian Crayon Floor Show praying
in tongues over your body while you're dying, and your wife has
that fucking often.
that, my mother and I agreed that there was no rhyme or reason to
this world. I will have to remember that more often, when I can't
change the things that I can't change -- which is a lot.
my mother told me this on the phone, after a load of silence all
I could think to ask her was, "What color were they? The crayons?"
told me that she really hadn't thought about it, but that they were
blue and yellow.
and yellow? Blue and yellow? Are you fucking kidding me? Blue and
yellow? I'm gonna go ahead and say, "Robin's Egg," and
"Daffodil." I think that sounds better.
dad knew how to appreciate a good laugh, even when he was dying.
That's how he was. We should all be so lucky.
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