By Rob Ehle
The Family Handbook of Mortal Conditions has been conceived as a monthly random match of mortal sin with family member to create a helpful home reference, not unlike the Merck Manual or the DSM IV.
For whatever reason, she was not a pastor. In God’s inscrutable wisdom. She was a pastor’s wife. She did not have much of a knack for wifing, actually, but her husband’s voice had worked on her as it worked on the world, just much more powerfully and (in her more cynical moments) insidiously (she might say), for when she married him she’d thought she was marrying a kind of prophet or something, but he had turned out to be more of just a guy. He wasn’t a bad guy, or weak. He was just a man, was the thing. Which was disappointing. Given the hoopla. Once she had discovered this, she could see how he did it, though, which was a little maddening. “It’s all in the timing,” she said to him once. “Isn’t it?” And he’d chuckled.
It was people quoting him that got to her most, like Moses or Christ. Really? she wanted to ask every person who did it. You couldn’t have come up with that on your own? Maybe not the alliteration, but the gist? That’s when she became the wisecracker. “He’ll never get too big a head,” they said, chuckling. “Not with her at home.”
Always the chuckling.
It was a big church. You could go a year and not realize who she was. There were advantages. She sat beside a lady one time, chatting, and out of the blue the lady asked, “How do you like him?”
She had never been asked before! Goodness! What an opportunity! She thought a moment. “Well—”
“I love him,” the lady said, without waiting.
She looked at her. This lady loved him? She thought some more. Love was such an odd word for it. Almost all of the time it was the wrong word for what you were feeling.
This is the final entry in The Family Handbook of Mortal Conditions.