Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.
I tried, really tried, not to look up the etymology. After all, we know what the word means. But I couldn’t resist it, and I discovered that there’s subtle undertone here that needs exploration.
The word dignify comes from the Latin dignus, which meant to make a person SEEM worthy.
Well now. That lends our prompt a whole other layer, because of one little word: Seem.
When I was doing my practicum toward my master’s, I did a school year in a local hospital’s rehab program. Part of my job was to record a patient’s progress–or lack thereof. My mentor taught me to write up my notes with words that leave some wiggle room, because sometimes things can change rapidly in helping folks who are disabled through surgery, such as a knee or hip replacement
Example: I once wrote “The patient is much stronger today.”
No. That’s an absolute statement, and leaves no room for change. I should have written “The patient SEEMS much stronger this morning,”
This is not done in an effort to deceive; rather, it is to allow for possible regression, which happens fairly frequently, especially among the older population.
So how does all this apply to the word du jour?
Simple. If I dignify (make worthy) my behavior, I am making it seem as if I’m a dignified person. Sometimes I truly am dignified. I know when to behave with dignity, and how to do it.
But I’m much more likely to see the humor in any situation than I am to see the dignity.
When my mother died five years ago, my sister and I arrived at the funeral home for the viewing well ahead of the scheduled time. We checked to make sure things were as they should be when the funeral director, a young man who seemed quite nervous, asked us to please sit down. He had something to tell us, and he hoped we would understand.
Mom’s body wasn’t there yet. The coffin my sister had chosen had to be shipped from Denver to Grand Junction, He was so embarrassed to have to tell us that he and his team would get Mom’s body into her coffin the minute it was unloaded from the truck, but the truck had a flat tire somewhere along the route. It would be late. So very sorry.
As the poor man spoke, my sister and I had trouble controlling our mirth and behaving with dignity. When he said the fatal word late, we lost it. Completely. You’d be surprised at how much funeral humor there is out there
Mom was always late! Dad had teased her for years that she would likely be late to her own funeral, and now, here she was–fulfilling that prophecy. I think she was watching the whole scene and enjoying a good laugh, sitting on some cloud holding Dad’s hand. I think she was enjoying the joke more than we were!
The poor guy finally regained his dignity, and Mom’s body was ready for viewing about 20 minutes past the published starting time.