My Gran'pa and Gran'ma Dawkins were two of my favorite relatives, a couple of lovable characters. They were born and reared in rural Mississippi in the late 1800's, and Gran'pa always said he was 18 years old before he knew "damyankee" was two words.
Anyway, they were kind-hearted, church-going folks who rarely missed a service at the little chapel a short ways from their place. It was a bi-denominational church since no one congregation could afford a full-time pastor, so they'd have a Methodist circuit preacher every other Sunday, and a Baptist circuit preacher on the in-between Sundays. I'm not sure if it would have qualified as ecumenialism or religious diversity, but it worked for that little band of Christians and provided the spiritual nurture and comfort they needed.
One particular Sunday morning "Granny D," as we called her, wasn't feeling very good. She'd had some stomach pains for a couple of days and the
Hostetter's Stomach Bitters she always relied on for relief just didn't seem to be helping her ongoing discomfort. But she was a loyal Methodist and that
Sunday was the Methodist preacher's turn to hold services so she put on her go-to-meetin' best and she and Gran'pa drove down to the church house.
Country church services are not known for their brevity. There was a Bible lesson, some hymn-singing, a testimony or two, a thorough and in-depth
discussion of the community's prayer requests, a love offering for the preacher, and of course a sermon exhorting the listeners to continue trodding the
narrow path of faith, repentance and good works.
Now about halfway through the service Granny D's discomfort was pretty obvious. She was squirming and fidgiting in the pew, trying to find a position that would quell the complaints her stomach was making. Finally she seemed to find some relief, and leaned over to Gran'pa and whispered to him, "I'm feeling a little better, now. I just let go a long, silent fart so I'll be okay 'til I can get back home and take another dose of bitters."
Gran'pa leaned over and replied, "And after you take that medicine, Hon, I think you need to check the battery in your hearing aid."