Keep Your Tongue in Its Holster, Please

My grandfather was a jovial man who never met a stranger. He was the sort of fellow who said hello and smiled at everyone he met in his long path through life. He was warm and kind. He never stepped on a bug or bruised a damaged reed.

I was still in my twenties when I recall my grandmother calling to say Daddy Scott was admitted to a hospital where they lived in northeast Oklahoma. The doctors knew he was in bad shape and probably wouldn’t last long. But after a few days, salesman that he was, he convinced them to let him get up, get dressed, and enjoy a good meal at his favorite restaurant, knowing it might be his last.

My wife and I drove fifty miles to pick up my grandmother who was dressed to the hilt but didn’t drive. Then, we proceeded to the hospital to get her dapper groom of over sixty years. Their small Oklahoma town didn’t have a lot of culinary choices, but the frail old lovebirds frequented a particular cafeteria almost every Sunday after church for as many years as I can remember.

The girls led the way, then I grabbed a tray for me, and one for my granddad. The young woman behind the counter curtly asked us what we wanted. With a big smile and a customary wink, Daddy Scott jokingly asked the young lady if she cooked all those entrees herself, and said, “They all look so good, you make it hard to choose.” Her response broke my heart.

“Just tell me what you want, old man. You’re holding up the line. People behind you want to eat today too.” I had never seen my grandfather slump like he did at that moment. To this day, I believe those words sealed his fate. Quietly, he ordered meatloaf. He got it every time.

He ate his lunch like a whipped puppy and remained silent on the ride back to the hospital where he died a few days later. That woman will never know the blow she struck. God forgive us. We know not what we do.