Thursday, February 14, 2008

Uncle Lloyd's Roman Holiday

Readers: Not much new in my world these days, so I thought I would share with you a "letter from home'' that I received from one of my favorites cousins, Nancy Thornton. Nancy and her husband, Bruce , have owned the Tippah County Farm & Garden Supply store in Dumas, Mississippi, for the past 25 years. Much of my extended family still lives in the area, farming soy beans and cotton all across Tippah County in the northeast corner of the state.

Feb. 7, 2008

Dear Slim
How are you doing?
It's been so long since I've written that I thought I would take some time now and write to you, although there is not much new to report.
As you know, Frankie is studying engineering at Auburn, and went back to school two weeks ago. It was great to have him home for the holidays and I think he enjoyed being at home. He certainly ate as if he enjoyed it!
Denise and the grandbabies are doing just fine, although Sophia, the three-year old, got the measles around Christmas. But you know how kids are; she's as fiesty as ever now.
Bruce and I hope to get away for a week or so next month to visit his parents in Houston, so we're looking forward to that.
The big news around here is that my uncle Lloyd and aunt Bernice went on vacation to Rome, if you can believe that. You probably know that they sold the farm last spring, all but about 20 acres around the homeplace, so finally they had both the money and the time to take their first vacation since their honeymoon a thousand years ago. They went to Memphis, as I am SURE you know.
When they told me they were going, I was pleased and grateful that maybe Uncle Lloyd would finally have something to talk about other than the ducks at the Peabody Hotel. He's been telling THAT story for more than 40 years.
So, just after the new year, they took their vacation. Can you just imagine my Uncle Lloyd and Aunt Bernice in Italy? Well, hold onto your socks, It's funnier than you could even imagine!
The day after they arrived at their hotel in Rome, Bernice arranged to go on a shopping trip arranged by the hotel. Of course, Lloyd didn’t want any part of that. Unless the shopping involves looking at farm machinery, well, he’s just not interested.
So Bernice left to go on your shopping trip early that morning and Lloyd was left to his own devices. After breakfast, he decided he would take a walk around and see some of the sights. Before long, he found himself wandering through Vatican City and Lloyd figured, since he was there, he might as well check out the Sistine Chapel, which he had always heard about.
Later that afternoon, when Bernice arrived back at the hotel, they were having coffee at a small bistro next to the hotel, telling each other about their day.
You know how quiet Lloyd is, so Bernice did most of the talking. Finally, after she had showed him the purse and shoes she had bought, she asked him what he had done.
Well, Lloyd tells her he took a walk down to Vatican City looked around, but didn’t see the Pope, at least he didn’t think so.
"I don't know,'' he said. "Maybe the Pope don’t dress up on Thursdays. Maybe he just wears his work clothes, you know? That's the only way I'd be able to spot him. There was an awful lot of old bald white fellas running around that place, after all.''
Of course, Bernice asks him if he saw the Sistine Chapel.
“Yeah,’’ Lloyd said, ‘’but there wasn’t much to it. You know how things get built up bigger than they really are? That place is just like that. It ain’t worth the trouble, you ask me.’’
So Bernice took him at his word and they scratched off a tour of Vatican City for the next day.Other than that, they saw most of the sights of Rome and I think they really enjoyed themselves, even though they were happy to get back home, as you might imagine.
Bernice stopped by the store last Tuesday and said that they had gone over to Wal-Mart in Ripley and got all their pictures back and that Ernie had turned them into a slide show. She invited us over to supper Saturday and we watched the slides after we ate.
It was so cute! Pictures of them in front of fountains, in front of museums, one in front of the Collesseum (Lloyd said he reckoned that “them Italians (he pronounced it "EYE-tailians'') are pretty handy at bulding, but they sure don’t take care of stuff. That Collessuem was right near fallin’ over.’’
What makes that funny is that you just KNOW that Lloyd wasn’t making a joke.
Anyway, after a while Bruce asked Lloyd if they had any pictures of the Sistine Chapel and Lloyd said he hadn’t bothered because it just worth the trouble.
Now, you know Bruce had spent time in Italy when he was in the service, so he was very surprised at Lloyd’s assessment.
“Really? You weren’t impressed?’’ Bruce asked.
“Not even a little bit,’’ Lloyd said. “I’d heard all my life about it, too, but best I could tell it wasn’t much different than any of those buildings there at the Vatican. Of course, it was cloudy and I couldn’t get close enough to give it a good look, but I didn’t see much of anything. Maybe the paint faded. Wouldn't surprise me none, either. It’s been five hundred years since Michaelangelo painted that roof, after all.’’
“You mean ceiling,’’ Bruce corrected him.
“Ceiling?’’ said Lloyd. I looked up and all the color had gone out of his face.
God forgive me, I started laughing so hard I almost peed myself.
Slim, Lloyd never went INSIDE the Sistine Chapel. He thought Michelangelo had painted the ROOF!!!.
Is that too funny?
Bruce and I were rolling on the floor. I looked over at Bernice and she was just shaking her head. Bless his heart, I think we sort of hurt Lloyd’s feelings. He started trying to explain why he hadn’t gone into the chapel.
“I ain’t a Catholic, so I didn’t figure it was right to go in there, seemed disrespectful,’’ he said.
Poor man. Bernice didn’t talk to him the rest of the night.
And, of course, everybody in town has been teasing him something fierce since the word got out.
But you know what a sweetheart Uncle Lloyd is. He even chuckles about it now.
I just love that man!
But just this morning as I was reading the Bible and saying my prayers, it hit me that so very many of us make the same mistake that Uncle Lloyd made, when you think about it.
I mean, it sure is easy to look at the externals and make judgments without ever going “inside,'' isn't it? And how foolish we often are, how much pain and hurt feelings it can cause. Uncle Lloyd isn’t the only one who looks at the roof, but never takes the time and effort to see the ceiling.
Well, I’ve got to run. I made a casserole and I’m going to take it over to Pastor Sean’s house. He has a broken jaw. And, yes, there’s a story there, too. All I’ll say for now is that Faron McCluskey is now going to the Methodist Church and everybody thinks that’s for the best, considering.
I’ll write soon. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
With love,

Nancy and Bruce


xfevv said...

That was great Slim. Thanks for sharing

dena0206 said...

That letter could have been written by any one of my cousins about my Uncle Bub. Thanks for taking me back "home."