Euleila Ann most likely came into this world laughing instead of crying. She said she inherited her sense of humor, because she loved to tell people how she got her name.
“You heard right – my name is Euleila Ann – that’s pronounced ’you lay la’and it’s a very special name. You see, my Momma was still under the anesthetic they gave her to ease her pain during delivery, when Daddy asked her, ’what shall we name the baby?’ Being a little groggy, Momma answered, ’you lay a hand on me and I’ll . ..’ Well, Daddy only caught the first part and thought she said ’Euleila Ann’, so that’s what they named me. Maybe Momma was given the wrong anesthetic, because she thought the name fit.“
Whether the story was true or not, nobody cared; it made people laugh and Euleila Ann loved making people laugh. She believed God created laughter so man could perceive the truly serious things of life and experience joy. As the wife of Pastor Bob, a humble preacher, she had learned through the challenges of her many roles to find some levity in almost everything.
Unlike most of their refined parishioners, Euleila Ann knew she was not cut from the same cloth. Her earthy ways lacked poise and ceremony and one could tell she had not missed many potlucks at the church. Her ample waistline boasted what she had accumulated from them, so that she didn’t just move, she jiggled – and, when she burst into a hearty laugh, a virtual “bodyquake” occurred below her midsection. Some say it even rattled the church chandelier. Euleila Ann found delight in the most mundane circumstances and let everyone know it.
One Sunday morning she was asked to come to the altar and make an announcement. Hurrying down the aisle, she noticed one of the upstanding parishioners staring disparagingly at her feet. Looking down, she discovered in horror that, in her rush to get to services, she had donned only one shoe – the other foot still bore her bedroom slipper! Sucking in her breath, she limped the rest of the way, garnering a more sympathetic eye, while whispering a confession to the Lord, “Well, I do have a corn on that foot.”
Euleila Ann allowed that if a person didn’t have a sense of humor, he probably didn’t have any sense at all. Some visiting missionaries to the parsonage could attest to that. On Bob’s meager salary, they could offer little. A clean bed and a creative meal, made as best as she could from her sparse pantry, was it. Once, she was able to eke out enough to make her special peach cobbler – a small serving for Bob, the missionary and herself. The missionary commented on how delicious the dessert was and Pastor Bob graciously offered to have Euleila Ann bring him another. She promptly gave him a kick under the table – a signal that the cupboard was bare. The missionary declined the offer and Bob insisted again. Euleila Ann kicked again. When the missionary demurred once more, Euleila Ann asked Bob to help her clear the table.
In the kitchen, she assaulted him, “We don’t have any more cobbler! Why on God’s green earth did you keep offering more when I was kicking you under the table?”
Bob answered between clenched teeth, “You didn’t kick ME under the table!” It was a toss up as to which was sorer – the missionary’s leg or Bob and Euleila’s sides from laughing.
Euleila Ann had a sensitive side, too. At one Wednesday night supper, she was serving mashed potatoes to Elmer Carver, when he sneezed his upper plate of dentures right onto the fluffy mound she had just put on his plate. In one fell swoop, she piled on another scoop to cover the fake pearlies, picked up his plate and said, “Let me get you some hot gravy from the kitchen.”
She returned with both “plates”, one concealed in a napkin and the other with hot gravy on the new dollop of potatoes. Thanks to Euleila, Elmer had his smile back.
Euleila Ann died last year and the undertaker did his best to form a smile on her face. Folks said she probably caused a few angels to giggle when she arrived in heaven and, to make sure no one forgot her, she asked that a remembrance be given out at her funeral – Snickers bars for everyone. She certainly had the last laugh.