“Attic Salt” for July 22, 2012

BY ED CULLEN

Advocate staff writer

The things you find out on the Internet. My wife is an open-face sandwich.

Not a regular sandwich or a club, she’s an open-face.

She’s not supporting a child who should be supporting himself or herself while taking care of an elderly parent or person. That’s a sandwich.

She’s not caring for an elderly person while rearing children and grandchildren. That would be a club.

An open-face sandwich is someone who takes care of an elderly person to whom they’re not related.

We used to call this being kind, but to be on the Internet things have to be clever. Then, they’re sucked up into newspaper headlines or become lead stories on television and radio.

The newly coined but rapidly tarnishing term becomes what, before the Internet, was called “Old Hat.”

In this sandwich shop of 2012, I’m the guy hired for the morning to spread mayo on slices of bread. I’d carry this sandwich analogy to the end of the counter, but we’re under orders not to do anything to make anymore subscribers claim they get all their news from the Internet.

My wife the caregiver is Baptist. I’m Catholic, sort of a Methodist who got delivered to the wrong house.

In my upbringing, what we do on Earth was stressed along with accepting Jesus Christ as our personal savior. Or just savior.

I knew I had to pray to the designated savior or my letters of supplication would end up in the dead letter box.

For those of you ready to claim that you get all your news via the Internet, send me a self-addressed, stamped envelope, and I’ll relate to you my confusion over limbo and purgatory.

Anyway. I once did what might be called a Christian act. The act involved an old man who was dying of cancer. He would have had enough money to get him to the end, but he counted on cigarettes and the best brandy to make his last days seem like living.

He and I fought over the cigarettes and brandy, a fight he usually won because he got to the mailbox and his monthly check before I did.

I let the brandy slide. When I walked into his hospital room to find him smoking next to a tall cylinder of oxygen, I turned him in. He cursed me for an hour.

When he died, I felt tired. I didn’t feel Christian, though I did feel Catholic.

“You know, you did a good thing,” my wife said, “and good deeds are important. But that’s not what gets you into heaven.”

She said this in response to something I’d said. She wasn’t scrambling eggs, you understand, and started talking about what gets one into heaven.

When my wife turns into an open-face sandwich to do for people, I remind her it won’t get her into heaven.

“I don’t care,” she says. “Besides, I may already be going to heaven because … ”

Right. Jesus is her personal trainer.

Advocate writer Ed Cullen welcomes comments by email to ecullen@theadvocate.com.