Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The cat is on the roof

Years ago a beloved priest in my home parish in West Virginia told the following story.

A man named Phil had always worked hard but had never taken even a day's vacation. So friends and family urged him to take a big trip and get away from work. His biggest concern was his cat and who would look after the cat. Phil's brother stepped up to the task and Phil was happily off on a long vacation.

His first day out, Phil called his brother and the first thing he asked about was the cat. The brother replied he was very sorry but the cat had gotten out of the house and ran out into the street and was hit by a car and killed.

Phil was devestated! Once he finally composed himself he told his brother that he really should think about how he gives bad news to people. Since Phil was going to be gone for several weeks the brother could have said something like, "The cat is on the roof." In a day or so you could add "We've had trouble getting the cat down from the roof." In that way I'd know that something was up and at least I'd be a bit prepared for the news.

The brother apologized and said he would work at being more considerate in the future. So Phil then asked about their mother.

After a pause, Phil's brother said "uh, Mom's on the roof."

My family has always liked that joke and it has been helpful at times to ease into bad news. To that end - my mother has been on the roof for about 3 weeks now and doesn't look as though she's climbing back in a window anytime soon.

Patience, grace and prayers are in order.

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