Every time the farmer visited his mother he brought her a bottle of milk spiked with a little brandy. One day she asked him to do him a favour. "Don't ever sell that cow."
I had visited and prayed with two men from my parish. As I was leaving the room a Chinese man, who was very obviously very sick, signaled to me to come over. I knelt down by his bedside and as I prayed he was very agitated and kept saying "huflung kiyu, huflung kiyu." I couldn't understand what he was saying so I went on with the prayer till he suddenly keeled over and died. The nurses came in and took him to the morgue. Next day I went to a Chinese restaurant and asked the waiter "Could you please tell me what huflung kiyu means?" He said it wasn't on the menu, but I kept pressing him for the translation. Finally he said that huflung kiyu means "You are kneeling on my oxygen line."
I usually tell one of my stories when I visit people
in hospital. And I told that story to Gwyneth Travers, the Kingston artist,
just after she had been diagnosed with inoperable cancer. I visited her
again and again for six months, and arrived by her bedside half an hour
before she died. She looked at me, took off her oxygen mask, and said fiercely
"Don't you dare come and kneel on my oxygen line." I like the courage of
woman who can keep a minister's joke for six months and throw it back at
him on her deathbed.