I Didn’t Know
My father-in-law had always disliked his given name and everyone knew him as Bud and called him Bud. What caused him to use and choose the name of Bud was his older sister had been named Elma Jean. Bud always said, “My mother must not have gotten that name out of her system, because she named me Elmer Eugene.”
Bud was the groundskeeper and general duty man for a small Christian camp in Mill Run, Pennsylvania. Children from churches in Pittsburgh would send their kids out for summer camp. Adults would come out for retreats and whole families would have a week that they could come and relax. (The camp had once been Killarny Park and families would ride the train from Pittsburgh to spend the day boating, swimming, and picnicking.)
Bud had a fantastic memory for names. We could be several states away and he would start to talk with them and find someone who they both knew, was from a family they knew, or was friends with someone that they knew.
One day, as camp was closing, Bud was saying good-bye to friends who had been coming to the camp for years. He leaned in the driver’s side window and said, “Drive safely.”
The man responded, “I have my Wife and Mother-in-law in the car with me, one preaching and the other praying. We should be safe.”
Kiddingly Bud said, “Which is which?”
The man replied, I’m not going to answer that. I’m in enough trouble already,” and they drove off.
I had been dating his daughter for almost three months. She invited me to stop over after church for Sunday afternoon meal. It was a great meal of roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, baked corn, and homemade bread rolls. We had almost finished with the meal and were sitting around the table, waiting for the slow eaters to finish. I was sipping sweetened iced tea, when Bud asked me a question. I can’t remember what he said, but when I opened my mouth to answer, a little burp escaped, “Erp.”
I felt even worse when Bud said, “How dare you burp before my wife?”
I had two choices. I could crawl under the table and slink out or the house being totally embarrassed or I could try to cover it up by saying something funny. I chose the latter. “I didn’t even know it was her turn.”
It was like a freeze frame in a movie when everything stops. My heart stopped. I swallowed hard.
All at once, Bud started to chuckle and I was part of the family from that second on.