I was 19 years old, visiting my parents in Memphis, when my mother got word that one of her somewhat-distant relatives died. Mom decided she wanted to attend the funeral service, which was less than a day’s drive away, in small-town Arkansas. So, Dad and I donned the appropriate suits and we made the drive over the bridge, across the river and back in time.
After several hours of rural routes and one-stoplight towns that evoked memories of Mayberry, we finally found the right town and the right funeral home. Dad pulled in front and let Mom out, while he and I would drive around the back and park the car.
Once Mom got out of the car, Dad said, “I feel sorry for you.”
I knitted my brow. “Sorry for me? How so?”
Dad said, “I can remember being your age and attending services like this. Inevitably, there would be some little old lady who would come up to me and say, “Ooooh, look at you! My goodness, how you’ve grown! Don’t you remember me? I used to bounce you on my knee!” I really wanted to say, “I’m not so sure. Why don’t you bounce me on your knee, I’ll spit up on your blouse and we’ll see what comes to mind?”
We shared a laugh at the thought of it as we parked the car, and then we got out and walked around the front of the building.
We walked into the front door of the funeral home and saw my mother in conversation with two elderly ladies. Mom made the introductions, and one of the women turned to me, as if reading from a cue card.
“You’re little Bobby?! Oh my goodness, I remember when you were just a baby! I used to bounce you on my knee! Don’t you remember me?”
I choked just a bit and shot a glance at my father, who was giving me a fierce look of fear, danger and pure, unadulterated threat that silently said, “Don’t you dare…”
It took every bit of strength I could summon, but somehow I managed to resist.