You know that expression, “Live one day at a time:” well there comes a day for some of us, when we are living “One breath at a time”. That’s where Molly was at this moment; not all bad mind you: the bed was nicely made, and the sheets had been ironed to a high standard shortly before use. Appearances, some say, matter, even in the most extreme situations. Molly was sucking in God’s good clean air with some difficulty and praying that she lived long enough to say goodbye to her daughter, from whom she had been long-since estranged, and who was now on her way from the airport to say a poignant farewell.
At last, and after a difficult and exhausting morning struggling for breath and gripping the sheets as waves of nausea and pain travelled across her stomach, her daughter’s face, not seen by her for thirty years, appeared above her: greyer, more lined and weary, but clearly her daughter.
She leaned over Molly’s face and in a clear voice, which was heard by the attending nurse, said, “You’re a Slut and a Liar”. With that she turned on her heel and exited our story leaving Molly in a wave of confusion shortly overtaken by death.
For those of you not acquainted with the procedure, there is a short period after death, when you can look around you, and gaze fondly at the flowers left for you by saddened relatives: in Molly’s case none. After a suitable pause you appear at a crossroads where an attendant angel, complete with clipboard, sends you to the appropriate gate earned by your life history.
She arrived at said gate after a short walk and there was St Peter, sitting in quite a comfortable chair and eating a nice plateful of cheese and crackers: his favourite between-meal snack. “Ah Molly” he said. “How are we? Oh yes, dead. Still, never mind that. No doubt you’re a bit unsettled by your daughter’s parting words”. Molly nodded silently.
“Let’s face it “said St Peter, surprisingly cheery despite the nature of the conversation, and possibly as a result of the excellent cheese. (For those of you with any anxiety on the matter, food in paradise is of a good quality). “Sleeping with your son-in-law while your daughter was out at her job is viewed by some as straying outside the bounds of acceptable behaviour. I have no wish to be judgemental,” he continued “But it’s my job,” said through a mouthful of cracker. “On the bright side, serving soup to the homeless for thirty years in penance has now earned you the right to step through these gates and settle on the third cloud from the left. Well done you”
“Will I ever be forgiven” asks Molly, still at a loss from the bruising encounter. “No” said St Peter, “But you will very soon be forgotten, and that is not a bad result for someone with your character.” Molly was to learn that some people had done enough to enter Paradise, but not enough to prevent others from commenting on their conduct. In her case silence really would be golden!