I’m a jerk, but aren’t we all are?

I blog about John.

Two weeks ago, he crossed my path again. He was sitting on the front pew, I was sitting alone, one pew behind. Normally, John sits alone unless the cathedral is filled to the brim. You and I know the reason why. Jerks like us always do that. Pretend we don’t see, then we think things do not exist.

The world is full of annoying people. And I find them annoying even when I am in church, when I am supposed to be very good hearted. I would go ‘I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my words and in my thoughts, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do…’. Oh yes, I do that all the time and even before I finish my confession, my heart goes ‘ fools, can’t you people come earlier? Don’t you know mass starts at 10 am and you come at past 10 am? Don’t you have any heart to squash a poor, differently-abled guy like John? For goodness sake, your two sons are so old, couldn’t they sit elsewhere? ‘

This family of four huge sized people, (father, mother, 2 adult sons all giant sizes) came and plonked themselves next to John. They are so fat and so huge, John couldn’t stand them. So, poor John had to get up and drag himself to sit next to me. Just before we get comfy, another family came and squeeze next to me. So, there I was, being so buddy-buddy with John. John held out his Bible to share with me. Shame on me! And I thought John couldn’t read! He even know which chapter, which verse, which lines etc.

But John has a problem with co-ordinating his swallowing reflexes and soon, his saliva dribbled down on the Bible. My eyes were at one place – saliva stains, my ears which were supposed to listen to the Gospel got lost. Then, John started to talk. Alamak, when he talked, his saliva sprayed on my hand. What do I do? What do I do? (ala Courage the cowardly dog). I must give John the dignity, I cannot afford to quicky wipe the saliva on my blouse and make him embarassed. I never carry tissue paper anyway. So, I pretend the saliva wasn’t on my hands. But I can feel the coolness and dampness. Eeek…..

I keep reminding myself, Lilian, remember, he is special. You are in church. Don’t be such a jerk. He cannot control it. Have a heart for him. So, I keep grinning and smiling with John. He asked me to help him fill a form right in the middle of the homily (preaching). Yikes, my priest has a very stern policy. He will stop giving the homily if he should hear a handphone ringing or someone talking or even babies crying (they are supposed to be in another room, so as not to interupt the whole church). And with John, you have to listen real hard to understand and also to repeat what he said to make sure that you understand correctly.

So, more ‘whaddaIdo, whaddaIdo?’. OK la, John is special, I must explain to him about the form NOW and not asking him to ‘wait lar, I want to hear the Word of God’. I told him we are building a chapel and each of us can vote for a name. I thought John wouldn’t know which name to choose (from 5 choices). But he did. He chose a name with Mary. I was so in awe with John.

When I put up my head, expecting my priest to juling/ stare in my direction for talking while he is talking, I was rewarded with an approving, smiling face. Mr Priest was right in the middle of preaching about how each of us can do just a tiny thing for others. He said none of us have to go all out to do big things (like wanting to hold big offices in church) but just small actions will do. I suppose he must have noticed that most times, John sits alone. But that day, he has someone talking to him. Even if this jerk of a person (me) was still feeling the saliva stains on the hand.

Right after the Lord’s prayer, we usually wish all the people around us, with an idiotic grin, half-hearted mutter ‘Peace be with you’. But that day, I decided to give John a hug. I expected to feel an all bones, stiff body but no, John is full of warmth. I told him that Christmas is coming and he must get his hair trimmed.

Well, what makes me a jerk is the following week (last week), I had already forgotten that I asked John to cut his hair. He saw me in church (I was there late for choir practice) and he came smiling and wobbling to me. No one has ever given me such a warm smile or looks so happy to see me in church. Not even my godma or my kids godpa. No one. But John did. And what did I do? I forgot to compliment him and his new hair cut.

I only remembered this now (late Saturday). So, I am going to make sure that I tell John he looks handsome today (Sunday). I have even prepared a Christmas cookie for him.