Quentin, the funeral director, had called on Wade, a Church of Christ minister, to perform the service. He knew of Wade's reputation for visiting with families or friends before a service. He would be gracious to everyone, even those with less-than-stellar reputations. He always found something nice to say.
Wade was also working to make improvements on Jack. Jack needed to develop a more gentle spirit. He had the reputation of being a man of plain talk, to the point of being brutal and insensitive.
On arriving, Wade asked Quentin what he know about Calvin.
Quentin: "Not much, unfortunately. The family asked me to find a Church of Christ preacher. They thought Calvin had attended a local congregation when he was a young child, but they said he had not been religious for a long time."
Wade: "Ok. What time is visitation tonight? I would like to visit with some family and learn more about Calvin. Maybe I can learn some light or good-natured anecdote to talk about tomorrow. "
Quentin: "In about an hour and a half, at 6 p.m.. Wade, don't expect too much. We may get one or two family members."
Jack: "Must not have been very much fun. Or the family is dysfunctional."
Quentin: "And don't expect friends to be here either. Wade, this one is not going to be easy, even for you."After a pleasant meal, at the local restaurant Wade and Jack return. They find Quentin, who points to the couple standing outside.
Quentin: "There is your entire family."Wade looked through the window to see Oscar and Ora. Their body language told him they preferred not being there.
Jack: "This doesn't look very good. Doesn't look like any love has been lost here."As Wade and Jack walked back outside, Wade thought to himself,"He is right. Just wish he had not said it quite like that."
Wade introduces himself and Jack to Oscar and Ora. Oscar is in his hunting vest and camo hat. Ora is wearing her faded Arkansas Razorback sweatshirt and well-worn blue jeans.
Oscar: "Shame when a man has to leave the woods for something like this. I had been studying a 6-point when I noticed the time."
Ora: (shaming him) "Hush, Oscar. Be Nice!" (Then returns her attention to Wade) Nice to meet you, Wade. Jack.
Wade: (getting to the point), "What can you tell me of Calvin's character?"
Ora: "He seemed to find great pleasure I in twisting truth. If he could, he did. You could see in his eyes how much he liked watching people squirm."
Oscar: "That man in that casket was walking trouble. If he opened his mouth, chances were it was a lie. In the last few years, it got to where you couldn't tell him anything. He would take truth and twist it up like a honeysuckle vine. He even..."
Ora: (interrupting) "He just couldn't be trusted."
Jack: "He's beginning to sound like a good-for-nothing scoundrel."
Wade: (to Jack) "Jack, don't say a thing like that. We don't know him."
(Wade could see this was not working well, so he chose a different direction.)
Wade: "What did he like doing?"
Oscar: "Jack, you ever had someone tell a white fib on you as a practical joke?"
Jack: "More than once by some fellas a work."
Oscar: " Well, if your friends are like mine, they wink at each other, and send hand signals to each other as they start one of their practical jokes."
(Jack nods in agreement..)
Oscar: "But after you were thoroughly embarrassed, they let you in on the joke, and everyone laughed some more. Right?"
(Jack, still nodding)
Ora: "Calvin told especially hurtful lies as a joke. He would wink at you, so you might join him. But, he would never stop the joke."
Oscar: "Wade, Calvin told a big embarrassing joke on Ora to her boss. It was funny, but he began telling people the same 'joke' to people in town. Well, it got to the point where Ora lost her job. Her boss said it was because 'her reputation was hurting the company.' "
Ora: "He just kept on plotting something evil on everyone."
Jack: (to Wade) "You need to let someone else do this service. There isn't anything good in this man."
Oscar: "Mr. Wade, No! Don't do that! You are the only preacher we could find to do the service!"
Wade: "So why did you pick me?"
Jack: (in a low voice) "No one else could stand him, I guess."
Wade: "Jack! Hush!"
Ora: "Well, he is right. Wade, there won't be anyone else here tonight. We are his cousins, and we don't want to be here. No other family will come. He ruined all his friends. There are no preachers in town, Church of Christ or not, who would do his service. Do you see anyone else??"
Wade: Oscar. Ora. I always find something good or pleasant to say about everyone at funerals.
Oscar: "Tomorrow, preacher, there will be us, you, Quentin, and Jack, if he decides to come back again. That will be everyone."
Ora: There is nothing good you can say."
Oscar: "Wade, you should just read a scripture, say a prayer, and read the obit. If you try to say something nice, YOU WILL BE THE LIAR. Like Ora said, there is nothing good here."
Wade: But Calvin's accident is making this a tragedy. There has got to be something I could say nice about him!
Jack: "I know one pleasant thing you can say about Calvin that everyone will like. Say, 'He's gone.'"
What should Preacher Wade do?
Have you ever known someone who was like this? Would you tell us your (or their) story?
What could have been done to stop Calvin?
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