by Ruth, a.k.a. Momma Frizzle
Recently, I met a guy at a funeral who asked, “So, what kind of car would you be?” He didn’t ask this right off the bat, of course. We’d been laughing together and matching wits like jovial boxers for awhile. That we were doing so at a funeral reception was a fitting memorial to the man who had just died – Dick Houghton.
Dick loved to laugh, tease, and instigate. He had what his son Mike called a “spark.” There was a mischievous gleam that would twinkle his eyes and curl his lips as he formed a joke or taunt. You could just see it coming. He also loved that spark in others. If Dick liked you, he would tease you. By that standard, he liked me just fine. I appreciated that he could take a joke as well as make one. We had a fun give-and-take over the years.
So on the day of Dick’s funeral, I’d found another rascal to spar with. I’d goaded and taunted, until my new friend took the bait and finally came back at me. He started rapid-firing crazy, random questions. I laughed (a delay tactic) and answered as quickly as my mind could process.
What kind of car would you be? “A Jeep,” I shot back, even though I don’t think I’ve ever ridden in a Jeep, much less owned or driven one. But, an appealing mental image had raced through my head just then – a muddy Jeep bouncing down back country roads. Tough and full of adventure, like me. Or so I thought at the time. A Jeep may have all the fancy car stuff, but it lets the outside in. That seemed like the best of both worlds.
My new friend understood. Turns out he’d been a state park ranger for over a decade. And Mike’s dad totally would have gotten me. Most everybody’s stories about Dick involved the outdoors – fishing, boating, golfing, hunting, watching Gator sports. All of my own remembrances of him are more outside than in. The last time I saw Dick on God’s green earth was on a camping trip we took last spring with Mike and Kim. So, my quick car choice seemed to fit the man and the occasion.
I’m not quite sure why I’m telling you this story of laughter and jeeps and death. In my mind, they’re all connected and came rushing back to me on Sunday, while I was convalescing on the back porch. I’m still weak from the cold I came down with the day of Dick’s funeral. It’s as if my all-terrain Jeep has crashed and gotten stuck in the mud for awhile. I’m frail and run out of gas quickly. But I want – need – to be more outside than in, feeling the warm sun and cool breeze, while gazing at the osprey circling the tree-lined lake. Soothed by creation, healed by its Creator.
Best of both worlds, it seems to me.