Q: How should I behave at the funeral of a man who mentally, and at times physically, abused my sister for 40 years? Should I spit on his grave, create a scene, or even attend it? Or be there for the sister and keep quiet, even though all who are there know of his behavior?
A: Your job at the funeral is to support and love your sister. Period.
But that’s not to say that after the service you can’t go home and use his photo for target practice or craft a voodoo doll in his likeness.
In a sense this funeral marks the passing of her old life, so that opens the door to great possibilities going forward. Now that he is gone, focus on how to aid in your sister’s healing. She has a long row to hoe as she begins to examine her choices of the last four decades. She’s going to need you now more than ever, whether she says so or not.
Q: What is an appropriate reply to someone who makes a statement that is highly opinionated yet poorly informed?
A: First I consider the source. Then my response depends on my mood and the particular type of ignoramus I’m facing. Sometimes I’ll improv and have fun with it, letting just about anything pop out of my mouth. When the person is especially obnoxious I won’t dignify his remarks with a reply.
After years of trying to help these blowhards become more knowledgeable, I’ve realized I’m not here to be a windbag whisperer. The ignorant remain that way because they refuse to listen. So now I don’t attempt to edify them.
However, in any situation you can always call forth that enduring nice-nasty Southern phrase and say, “Bless your heart.”
That phrase is like the navy blazer in the closet: it’s always in season and goes with everything.
Perhaps the best way we can influence such folks is to work on our own intellectual, ethical and spiritual improvement. Maybe our efforts to become more learned will spark something in them when they eventually run out of hot air.
Q: I keep running into our town’s biggest vegetarian in my favorite hot dog house enjoying a foot-long. So do I call her a cheatatarian or keep my mouth shut?
A: Now, now. Everyone should be allowed a few harmless indiscretions. It’s good for the soul to have a bit of room to back-slide. No one can be on the side of the angels all the time.
For a question like this I turn to the supreme authority on such matters: the Irish writer Oscar Wilde. “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it,” he said.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I confess I’m a bad vegetarian as well. So if you spy a mound of bacon on my plate at the Waffle House, I ask that you respond as you do when you run into your friends from the First Baptist Church at the liquor store: Just keep it to yourself.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lauretta Hannon, a resident of Powder Springs, is the bestselling author of “The Cracker Queen — A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life” and a keynote speaker. Southern Living has named her “the funniest woman in Georgia.” See more at www.thecrackerqueen.com.