A dead man and a minister walk into a bar…
Actually it was a living room and they sat on a couch.
I received a telephone call from an hysterical wife. Her husband was nearing the end of his life and she needed my help. Of course I helped her, that’s what I do. It was a difficult situation because her husband was actively dying and she was not coping well. She refused to enter the bedroom.
I took care of him. He was fine. Nothing dramatic happened. He died peacefully shortly after I arrived. I made him presentable and left the bedroom to fetch his wife. At first she was willing to peek through the door, look over my shoulder, but even that quickly became too much for her. I asked if I could call someone for her, a child or a neighbor. I was reluctant to call the mortuary when she was in such a state.
At last she agreed to let me call her minister and of course I offered to stay as long as she needed me. She asked me to sit with her husband until the minister arrived. Not a problem.
The funny thing was, when I entered the bedroom a second time, her husband was sitting at the bedside. Yup. Right next to his own body. Gave me a bit of a start to say the least.
Oh, sometimes ghosts are nothing more than sparkles, maybe a ball of energy, and sometimes they look just like themselves but not quite in the altogether. He looked just like himself, just not quite in the altogether. So, now I had to decide what to do. Did I sit there and chat him up, you know– explain to him what had happened? Did I ignore him, pretend I didn’t see him and finish my charting?
To be honest, I’m not all that fond of ghosts. And it felt especially weird to be in a room with a ghost who was sitting next to his body. But I didn’t want to be rude. Still, I looked back at the closed door and I considered leaving.
However the truth is, he seemed like a pretty nice guy, not scary at all. Not even Ghostbusters cartoonish-type scary. So I sat myself down in the rocking chair and proceeded to chart his death.
All I can say is thank god the minister finally arrived, except the dead man didn’t want a thing to do with him. The minister and the wife entered the bedroom and the dead man followed me out to the living room. He walked right through the minister.
By this time I really wanted to go home, but of course I had to wait. Couldn’t call the mortuary until the wife gave me permission so I kept my eye on the ghost. He plopped himself down on a yellow sofa, spread his arms along the back and crossed his legs. Made himself just as comfy as he could be. He had this big grin on his face, and he winked, you know, like the joke was on me.
I took the arm chair near the open entryway door. Always plan your escape routes, that’s my motto. But actually the ghost did seem like a nice person.
At last the minister came out of the bedroom, walked down the hallway, entered the living room and sat down on the couch, right on top of the ghost. And I’m like waving my arms around and stuttering– “Hey. No. Wait. Uh, don’t uh, sit, uh, um, uh… Don’t sit there.”
And he, the minister, shot me a look like– What is your problem?
The ghost was cracking up. I’m looking at the ghost and he’s doubled over with laughter, and he’s got this minister superimposed over him. And it was so totally freaky.
And then the minister asked me to close the front door because he felt a cold draft. Yeah, ya think? You’re sitting on a dead man, dummy.
And now, Winston Saves the Day!
Winston is a huge green parrot. He’s 35 years old and we’ve been his foster family for over 20 years. His owner is now in her eighties and I consulted with her two years ago when her husband had a stroke. It ended up being a hospice situation.
In any case, Winston has spent a lot of time with us over the years because his family has traveled to places like Mongolia and Siberia and Japan and Antarctica and they’ve left for months and months.
Winston speaks. Not only does he speak, he says what he means and he means what he says. He knows our names. He knows our pets’ names– and he never gets confused. As I said, he says what he means and he means what he says. And his rendition of the Star Spangled Banner is beautiful. He could sing it at a baseball game. Hits all the high notes.
Normally Winston carries on conversations with whomever happens to be near his cage. The dog, my kids, me, the cat. He’ll even talk to our birds although he’s kind of a snob when it comes to birds. He doesn’t know he’s a bird. Winston thinks he’s a person in feathers. He turns his beak up at bird food. He prefers croissants. And omelets.
When he visits us his cage stays downstairs next to the big picture window overlooking the basketball court so he can watch all the activity both inside and outdoors. He’s not far from the laundry room. Maybe 10-12 feet from the laundry room door.
One day when he was here I was busy with chores. I had several loads of laundry to do, dishes to wash, sheets to change and loads of ironing. I spent a lot of time running up and down the stairs, the dog running with me, while Winston chatted us up every chance he got.
I was upstairs, ironing, when I heard bloodcurdling screams coming from Winston. Seriously– my blood ran cold. Then I heard Winston yell — “Help! Fire! Help! Fire!”
I flew down the stairs and, hell yeah, there were flames shooting out of my laundry room. The dryer had caught fire and my sheets were burning. I slammed the laundry room door shut, dialed 9-1-1, and got all the pets outside. I wheeled Winston’s entire cage out the back door.
The firemen managed to contain the fire. Fortunately it didn’t spread beyond the laundry room. We lost the washer, dryer and the floor beneath and had smoke damage on the walls and ceiling.
Winston saved our lives and our home. The firemen were so impressed they all wanted to meet him. Winston, of course, tried to bite them.
He’s one cool parrot dude.