The Gumbo blog is closed most days lately. Missives of daily life in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, have all but ceased lately. Instead, I offer this paltry piece in homage to my deceased, but beloved father.
The sneezes startled the daily rhythms of birds, animals, humans, and probably angels amongst us. Friends who were accidentally present in our home when my father sneezed would join in with shrieks of terror or just stare in open-mouthed wonder. As his family, we were startled, but only momentarily. These eruptions, however disruptive they seemed, never merited a mention, not even the obligatory, "God bless you," from my mother or older siblings. Anyone who could sneeze like that was already blessed in my opinion. Only a sainted person could produce a wonderment like that, then recover quickly, as if nothing untoward had happened at all.
For a brief time, around the age of 12, when I was becoming aware of social graces, I felt compassion for this man of unbecoming sneezes. Surely, these eruptions were involuntary and caused intense social shunning. How could I not feel sorry for someone who had a pronounced social disability?
One day, I sat beside my father in church. I think the occasion was a funeral. Or a wedding. We were dressed well: my father in suit and tie, and I, in a summer dress and patent leather shoes. He sneezed, but the fury stayed well inside his cavernous sinus cavity, barely causing a shudder down his spine and through his shoulders.
Then, I knew.
The sneezes were brief one-act plays that interrupted an otherwise ordinary life.
A germ of crazy showmanship lay beneath the surface of my dad's consciousness, manifesting occasionally in a sneeze. Then, he pulled his middle-class, working-man image back around himself, as if nothing had happened. The shows continued at home, but I never again paid homage.
My father has been dead for 10 years. I never noticed or have since heard of any crazy or disturbing behavior about him. He was normal by most standards, except for the occasional ear-shattering sneeze, of which, I must confess do not miss at all.