Say a Prayer for Me

may you be free from harm. 
may you be free from physical suffering.
may you be free from mental suffering.
may you have ease of well-being. 

--lame old Buddhist prayer

Peace and Joy, Camper.

When Your Uncle Jerry was a young whippersnapper, he rented an apartment in an old brick house down the street from a Catholic church. His landlady was a church-going widow, whose name was Charlene Cash.

Cash was short and round and cheerful—a dumpling in a floral-print housedress. She was 75 years old, with blue-white hair, and she was in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. Because she was from Paducah, Kentucky, some people thought she was clueless. And the Alzheimer’s, of course. But Uncle Jerry loved her just the way she was.

At the time, Your Uncle Jerry was recently divorced, and might have had a girlfriend or two. He was into jazz and poetry and putting on airs. So, to Cash, of course, Uncle Jerry was an atheist. A rascal. But Cash didn't mind the flowers he brought her. In fact, like most women, she loved to flirt with a dangerous man, and she loved it that Uncle Jerry could fix the furnace or find her lost keys.

One thing that Cash never forgot was to walk down to church every morning for early Mass. Uncle Jerry used to ask her what would happen if she missed it--would God forget where she lived? "Rascal," she'd say.

One sunny wonderful Illinois morning, Cash was walking past his kitchen window on her way to church. And, "Cash!" called Uncle Jerry. "Say a prayer for me while you're on your knees, okay?"

And without even looking up, this distracted old lady replied, "Oh, Honey. I always say one for ALL poor devils and sinners!"

Joy and peace.

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