Miss Liza was a big woman. She took up her seat and another one beside her on the pew in her church. She wore big loud hats which blocked the view of the three pews behind her. Her opinions were as big as she was. They were not to be questioned or opposed. Her options were to be obeyed and shared by all those seeking to get along with Miss Liza.
Miss Liza didn’t believe in going to bed early. She stayed up very late. She may have been eating bonbons and drinking diet Coke. She was likely formulating plans to convert another person to her way of thinking. Maybe she was making a list of all those with the temerity to disagree with her large, loud opinions. It was known that late at night she would listen in on or take over the party line. Because she stayed up late, she also slept late. She didn’t believe in getting up with the chickens. If a chicken caused her to arise before her time to get out of bed, the offending fowl would likely be on a platter that evening for supper.
When the new preacher came to town, Miss Liza made a habit of calling him very late in the evening to inquire about the health of church members. That was her stated position, but most likely gave her cover for listening on the party line conversations. In church life, we don’t gossip.We share joys and concerns. Or we seek information about persons so that we might pray more effectively for them. Some really do pray, others like to know the inside scoop. Miss Liza wanted to know the inside scoop so she could share it with others in a big way. She took to calling the new preacher at 11:00 p.m. This particular preacher was an early to bed early to rise Methodist minister.
Many a night Liza woke him up, even after he told her that he went to bed early. He finally broke her of calling him late at night.For several days in a row, he called her at 5:00 a.m. and woke her up. Quid pro quo is an effective strategy against one’s adversary.
Being a big woman with big opinions it was fitting Miss Liza had a big voice to boot. Even when she was whispering the whole church could hear her under-the-breath conversations. She was known for her running commentaries on the sermon in progress. She would rarely agree and mostly question the educational background of the present occupant of the pulpit. Even when she was muttering to herself the choir could hear every word. No one questioned whether this was purposeful or some kind of vocal accident. It was the way of Miss Liza and everyone knew it.
Liza sat on the same pew in the church for over seventy years. I think the pew gave out before Liza did. She died before the new sanctuary was opened and she could claim her big place in the new church. She was one of the salty saints. Even today they are telling Miss Liza stories in that church. Since there is a Natchitoches connection back to that church I should be circumspect.
One Saturday there was a wedding in the church. Miss Liza was present on her pew. Her pew was on the groom’s side of the church. Liza was in her pew even though she didn’t know the groom or any of his kin-folk. Liza would not be bothered by matrimonial decorum. The congregation was informed of this during the pre-service music. Liza believed that any Prelude, before a wedding, a funeral or Sunday worship, was simply background music for her conversations.
The wedding proper began on time with the procession of groomsmen and bridesmaids. The wedding party, while small in number was large in girth. They wore tuxedos and gowns, all of which evidenced an abundance of gussets.
There is a moment of silence in the wedding. The minister asks the congregation to be seated and while they are finishing up their ritualistic sitting down rustling, nothing is said. The minister waits for the creaking of the pews to subside .Then the minister will begin the ceremony with “Friends” or “Dearly beloved.”
There was a pre-“Dearly Beloved “moment of silence at this wedding.
Miss Liza could hold out no longer. For some reason she intoned her opinion of the size of wedding party to those sitting around her. The entire congregation, in this moment of pre-matrimonial silence heard Miss Liza say, “Would you look at that. There’s a lot of beef on that stage.”
There are some moments from which you never recover. There are some things which can never be unsaid.