The Joy of Delivering Bad News

witch 2 Old Lady Borden was a saint! We had it on good authority, hers. She had been widowed longer than anybody knew. Hateful as she was, had I been her husband, I would have claimed to be dead, too. Though she was devout in another denomination, she was in attendance at our little country church every time the doors opened. Her own church was twelve miles away and she didn’t want to bother anyone for a ride to services so far afield. It was much more expedient walk a few hundred feet and stir up no end of trouble closer to home, inserting herself fully into all matters related to church business, be it financial, theological, or just some sinner in need of her hateful opinion.
Mother was very particular about our language. We would have never been allowed refer to Ms. Borden by the B word, but she turned a deaf ear when we referred to her as an Old Bat. Old Lady Borden played a vital role pointing out flaws that might have gone unnoticed for a while, a pregnant bride, a baby with a crossed-eye, a child who stuttered, a woman who’d gained weight, or was a bad housekeeper. She begrudged any good fortune coming to a neighbor, such as good crops, or getting a good job. They were “gittin’ uppity.” Should a church member appear too prosperous, they were probably “gittin’ in the c’lection plate.”
Old Lady Borden was the first to the home of the bereaved, making sure to crowd the younger women out at the kitchen sink, then complaining loudly about how “lazy them gals was. “ Any one unfortunate enough to be handed a drying towel would be treated to her acid tongue about what a pitiful job they were doing. Nothing excited her more than a tragedy. Long before the days of cell phones, or even many house phones in our rural community, the school principal got the word that Mr. Barnes, the school bus driver’s father had collapsed and died a few minutes after his daughter Becky left on her bus route. He got in his vehicle, hoping to catch up with her before she home and found a shocking scene. When she stopped to let off Old Lady Borden’s grandson, the old woman rushed out to meet her at the bus stop with the horrible news. “Becky, yore daddy just dropped dead. He’s still a’ laying out in the yard a’waitin’ for the coroner.”
Naturally, Becky and her young children were distraught. There were still a half-dozen other children, some of them relatives, on the bus who’d heard the whole thing. They became overwrought at hearing the news of Mr. Barne’s death. Becky had no idea how to manage till the principal caught up to comfort and relieve her. He had to finish her route with her and the upset children still on the bus, since there was no other way to get them home.
It was a shocking situation, but at least she had the pleasure of delivering the terrible news. She was the meanest Christian I ever met.