Photo - Palm Sunday at Swedenborg Church in San Diego - with real palms!
pictured - l-r -
photo by -
I was the Playwright-in-Residence at Swedenborg Hall from 2006-2008
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Wishing a wonderful holiday to all my friends celebrating Palm Sunday!
Apr. 13, 2014 Day #60
Psalm Psunday (c)
(for The Senior Channel)
by Janet S.Tiger
(c) 2014 all rights reserved
(A man comes onstage, carrying a palm. He puts it reverently on the floor)
I want to thank the Senior Channel for letting people come on who don’t have complaints. And for allowing us to tell stories about families and their favorite holidays. Mine is Palm Sunday, and this is why. My mother used to say she wanted to have a special day to die on - and she would prefer Psalm Psunday - she spelled the Sunday P-s-u-n-d-a-y because she liked it so much.
As she got older, somehow, she got more obsessed with this. Palm Sunday only falls on March 23rd once in a blue moon - 1902 was one year, then 1975 the next time.
So, when she found out that Mar. 23rd, 1997 was going to be Palm Sunday, and she was going to be exactly 78 years old, the same age her mother was when she died, she decided that was the day that she was going to die.
Even though it was over ten years away, even though she was in perfect health, she had made her decision. She wanted - can you guess it? - the 23rd Psalm read at the funeral, and she wanted Easter Sunday to be celebrated as always, with a wonderful meal at her house, with all her family around.....around her ashes!
She was adamant that's what was going to happen. She was a little surprised to be incredibly healthy going into her seventies - her mother had died of lung cancer, so she had never smoked. When it was pointed out that's probably why she was so healthy, she would respond, (slight Irish accent) 'Healthy or not, when God wants you, that's your time.'
Just as it was useless to argue with her about not finishing your food, or marrying a Protestant, it was not wise to argue about her death date.
So Palm Sunday loomed, like a train coming down the tracks, my mother in its direct path, unable to see that all she had to do was notice that the train was heading on another track before it got to her.
My mother got up on Palm Sunday, and it was a beautiful day, and she got her palm fronds and she and my father headed to the church.
You see, because of what she expected, she expected us all to show up. So we met her there, the whole family....we knew her strength of mind - my father used to say she loved Palm Sunday because she was as stubborn as the donkey Jesus rode on - and she would say the donkey represented peace, of which there would be none if my father argued.
It was one of their many running battles - and that Palm Sunday was no different. My father almost refused to go to church - saying he did not want to disturb people with a wife dropping dead. But he went.
And we waited - through the service, and the priest's incredibly long sermon, which my father declared would be the death of himself! But my mother was still alive....and we could tell there was an element of surprise, as the woven crosses were displayed, and the ceremonies finished, and the feasting progressed, and still, she lived. The day wound down, and no one would leave my mother's house, concerned that if they were there, perhaps, just perhaps, her horrible prediction would not come true. The minutes ticked down.....9 o'clock, ten o'clock, then....11.......my mother started to get tired, and perhaps a tiny bit disappointed?.... and wanted everyone to leave, but no one would go!
(He wipes his forehead, the memory is tough)
It was almost midnight, and all of a sudden, my mother’s face changed, and she closed her eyes.
(He closes his eyes, bows his head)
…..and, she started ….to say something…….
‘(slight Irish accent) The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.’
(He lifts his head, looks up, smiles.)
You do want to hear the end, don’t you? What happened at midnight?
At this point, I would like to point out the suspense of this story is only predicated on the fact you don't know my mother, and if you did, you would know she is, at age 95, still very much alive.
But it doesn't matter, because now, with a real belief born only of faith, she truly believes she got the day correct - she will die on a March 23rd, but the year, well, anyone can get numbers wrong!- so when she dies on March 23rd, that will be the next time March 23rd falls on Palm Sunday....which is 2059......
So, my dear friends, have a wonderful Palm Sunday, if you have a moment, please drop by and join us for some of my mother's delicious fig pudding....
(He turns to leave, looks back)
…..and please, if you are still with us in 2059 - and my mother is, too - please join us then!
(He exits, the end)
Janet S. Tiger 858-274-9678
Member Dramatists Guild since 1983
Swedenborg Hall 2006-8