Petie would appreciate the humor, I’m sure of it. After her funeral in Anderson the extended family drove to The Church at the Crossing on the north side of Indianapolis to gather together for a meal before we went our separate ways. That’s where I lost my pants.
It’s a big extended family. Along with her husband Tom, Nancy Courtney Persing — “Petie” to all who knew her — presided over 15 children and stepchildren and all the grand- and great-grandchildren they produced. Someone at the funeral home the evening before the funeral was heard to say they had never been to a louder visitation. I can believe it. It’s hard to keep that many people quiet.
My mother-in-law had lived with and struggled against Parkinson’s disease since before I met her in 2003. My wife and I would meet the two of them every Sunday after church for lunch until she became unable to easily travel at which time we met them weekly at their house. She had taught high school English and literature in Anderson. I would search during the week to find a couple of interesting poems, and we two English teachers would spend part of Sunday afternoon enjoying and discussing them. I will sorely miss our weekly poetry seminars.
I will also miss her kind, loving nature and her generous heart. I will miss her quest for and devotion to spiritual truths, and I will miss her adventurous spirit which took her to over 60 countries and six continents. I will miss her quick wit and her mind which up until nearly the end remained sharp despite the disease which slowly robbed her of the ability to move her body. And I will miss her sense of humor.
For the last few months after lunch and poetry, Tom would carry in a box from Petie’s extensive accumulation of items she had saved over her life. Most of these things were memory keys for her. We would examine them and hear their stories; then she would indicate she was ready to be rid of the objects. As often as not, the memories would make us laugh. She loved to laugh. Which brings me back to my missing pants.
Every special event and ritual we humans experience, the ones that shape us and make up the milestones on our life road, has a time to begin and a time to end. After the birth, the graduation, the marriage, after the death has been observed we all go back to our day-to-day existence until the next major blip on the seismograph of our lives. After the meal was finished and we hugged goodbye, some started to leave.
Due to a commitment that evening, I had driven separately. I retrieved some casual clothes from my car and went into a restroom to change from my suit.
The wooden hanger had one of those little bars which helps secure pants. I dutifully locked them on then draped my jacket over. I hung my suit on that little hook in the car and was off. I didn’t notice until two days later that somehow the pants had gone missing. After retracing my steps, I
figured that somewhere between the church restroom and my car, my pants had apparently walked off by themselves.
“I suppose I will have to call the church,” I said reluctantly to myself. I started rehearsing what I would say to whomever answered. How do I explain over the phone to a total stranger — a stranger who works at a church — that I am missing my pants? For some reason, the fact that it was a house of worship made it even more embarrassing.
The phone call to the church wasn’t so bad, after all. The lady who answered was helpful. We both laughed about it, and I got my pants back. I think Petie would have been tickled to hear my missing pants story, and how she played a part. She might be laughing right now.
Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.