Keeping Up Appearances

By Father Pat Killilea, St. Francis Church, Kalaupapa

The phone rings. There is a clattering of high heeled shoes on the tile floor. Then a rather high pitch voice is heard saying, “Good afternoon! This is Mrs. Bouquet, mistress of the housing, speaking.” After a slight pause, the voice resumes, “Oh, it’s you Sheridan dear. How nice of you to call your mother.” We are tuning in to the voice of Mrs. Bucket, a lower middle-class housewife who is intent on climbing the ladder of society and wishes to be addressed as Mrs. Bouquet. She is the star of the 1990s British sitcom, “Keeping Up Appearances” and she acts as though she belongs to the upper class of society. It is almost as though she wears a mask to hide her true status. She does indeed put on appearances and her character is both funny and outrageous.

Perhaps we have all at some time put on a mask, another face, so to speak, to impress some individual or group of individuals. Perhaps we have wanted to appear more learned than we actually are, perhaps more liberal than we truly are, or perhaps more “cool” to the younger generation. So we don a mask and put on an act to keep up appearances.

Of course, in these troubled times of COVID-19, actual mask wearing is common place. Some wear masks to protect others, some to protect themselves, and some for that dual purpose. I do not know whether or not anybody enjoys wearing them, but does so for the overall good of the community and society. Still there are some who refuse to do so because they feel that wearing a mask infringes on their freedom.

Here in Kalaupapa, we have been wearing masks since before it became a mandate. We wear our masks whenever and wherever we may come in contact with another resident, be that at work, at the administration office, at the post office or at the grocery store. Our primary purpose for doing this is to protect our patients as well as their nursing staff who are in close contact with the patients. We were reminded of this responsibility recently by Doctor Wasserman as he stood on the mound under the great banyan tree.

Wearing a mask is not exactly my favorite pastime but I do so happily during our daily Masses at St. Francis. Sometimes the mask fogs up my glasses or tickles my nose but it also hides the smirk on my leprechaun face whenever a funny thought crosses my mind. After all, as shepherd of the flock, I must keep up appearances. Aloha.


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