HURRY BACK

Pam and I were having lunch at Bonefish Grill after church yesterday, and right after being seated we were met by our wait person. Her name was Erica and she had a million dollar smile, her blond hair pulled back, with light- bronzed complexion and a husky sweet voice. She took our drink order and came back with a sample of their lemonade that had a touch of ginger and mint in it. Pam thought it was too tart, but I loved it.

When she came back for our food order, Pam told her what she wanted and then she asked me next. I told her I would like the California omelette with a side of bacon. She said there was crumbled bacon in the omelette. She said this because she thought I didn’t realize there was bacon in the omelette and thought I might want to order something else for my side item. However, I didn’t hear her say there was crumbled bacon IN THE OMELETTE…I just heard the BACON WAS CRUMBLED. I learned later that Erica had clearly explained there were STRIPS OF BACON. I musta taken a quick trip to Botswana during the conversation. I do that from time to time.

So now I’m thinking, they’re going to bring me crumbled bacon on the side. That seemed bizarre and suddenly my thought process started taking on water….I just couldn’t latch on to what she was saying. As I’ve said many times before, there is no processing side to my ADHD. I just couldn’t connect. Now Erica is getting the giggles and Pam is shaking her head thinking she’s brought an untrained monkey to lunch, staring intensely at me like, “What is wrong with you.”

Befuddled, I’m looking at both of them smiling at me as they try to right my overturned brain. So, to lighten things up, I jokingly quipped, “ They generally only let me out for a day.“ Erica laughed out loud and without hesitation said, “ I think you should probably hurry back.“ At that point we all burst out laughing. She was as precious as she could be and we had a wonderful lunch. I’m thanking God for Erica.

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” (Marcel Proust )

WITH A BABY IN MY ARMS

It’s transformational…. that moment you’re handed a baby. Your voice is softer and your protective nature takes over. Intensity is muted and most often you’re either smiling or wearing an empathetic expression on your face to soothe them. A loving spirit comes over you. Nothing else can change you so quickly as one so helpless, nestled in your arms.

A thought came swimming up to me and gave me pause. It was bizarre in a way, because it could never really happen…..but I thought….I wish it were so because things would be nicer, more friendly….not perfect of course…but softer, not so crazy, not so frenzied, not so hurtful and loud. Here’s the thought. The world would be a better place…..with a baby in your arms.

We live in a world of contention. It is emotionally, spiritually, intellectually and physically, a violent place. The disenfranchised, the elderly and children can be dismissed with a blink of an eye. There are the haves and have nots…and only one of the two are reasonably content. We’ve become virulent in our “being right” whether conservative, progressive, libertarian or whatever. We give no quarter. Ears are stopped, eyes are blind and hearts grow cold. We injure ourselves and others when we lash out to make our point.

I realize my tongue can be murderous at times. It is unseemly and without excuse. Over the years, I’ve used (though with quiet discretion) my weapons that wound… a quiver of words like…jerk, idiot, stupid, insane, etc. There are some that use a laundry list of expletives…. but mine aren’t any better than those. It’s my ego spouting off, not my intellect. Often, Instead of making a helpful point, we wield blades of faulty syllogism, and venomous rhetoric meant to demonize and make fun of those with whom there is disagreement. But really, that’s more about twisting the knife then anything else. We don’t think about this as malevolence really…but if we do…. we’re readily willing to administer ourselves immediate absolution.

We give in to our darker nature and excuse it all in the name of the greater good…. A greater good that varies from person to person. We say it’s just common decency we want, when we can’t even be decent to each other.

I need a baby in my arms.

OKAY THEN

I always enjoy e a good start to my day by having coffee with Pam. This morning, as we talked, I asked her how she slept. She said, “I was dreaming so much last night“. I asked her if she was dreaming about me. Without missing a beat, she said, “I wasn’t dreaming about you for sure.” Okay then.

“No one ever cared for me like Jesus”.

HOLDING YOURSELF

“Poppie, I’m tired”…and with those words, Maya jumped in my lap and snuggled up to me. I felt her warm breath on my neck as we gently rocked back and forth for a few minutes.

My limited skills as a writer from time to time find me using “go to” phrases like “There’s no feeling like that” when I’m overwhelmed with some wonderful occurrence. But this one is different, what am I feeling here with Maya?

Every grandfather or grandmother is going to brag about their grandkids. The kids could be ugly as a mud fence and have an IQ about as high, but to them, they are the most precious treasure in the world .

This girl has a chameleon-like agility to shift her attitude from total love and affection for us to uncontrollable crying, and dictatorial powers that would give Napoleon Bonaparte pause.

We’ve only been in Minneapolis less than a day and here’s a few of the responses from this little chipmunk. Upon arriving back from Norway, she met us at the airport and said, “Welcome home Grandma and Poppie. I missed you.”

This morning as she made her first appearance with braided hair and a cute little dress, Pam said to her, “that’s a lovely dress you’re wearing, Maya.” Immediately she quipped, “ Yes, Grandma, you’re quite right!“ And as I was rummaging around for cereal, I found an interesting one called “Bunny Cereal.” I proceeded to down a bowl of it when without warning, in marched Maya, hands on hips and informed me….

“You cannot eat my cereal, Poppie.. That’s for me, and me only!“….Okay then.

Maya invited me up to her bedroom and asked, “Would you like to play with me in my room?“ I told her I would love to, and quickly followed her up to her digs….but before I could say anything she turned to me and said, “You are not to wear sandals in my room.” (Moses had a similar moment in Exodus 3:5) So anywhoo, she cleared that up for me right away. Little Maya was so proud as she showed me her “Counting” book, her “Where Is Michael Jackson?” book (she found him every time) and her bedtime Maya book, that, as I read to her, she laid on her bed to listen. But the best response from her so far is this.

Yesterday, as we were getting out of the car after a visit to a nearby amusement park, she was being quietly reprimanded by her father, there was a pause…and then she blurted out….”Must you argue with me every day, daddy?”

So what was this feeling that I had as I held her in my arms? What was the meaning? What I came upon, was this. I was holding what once was. What once was me. What once were my children and my grandchildren. I was holding a remembrance, a hope, a legacy. That brought out deep emotion in me….burning wet eyes that expressed the sweet joy and the struggle of it all. My little chipmunk is beautiful….truly beautiful. Life is beautiful….truly truly beautiful.

SALT AND LIGHT

Riding on the bus through Norway has been a rich thinking time, and a wonderful chance to re-evaluate my life and make some corrections. I can’t attend to them all, but I can change bit by bit with God’s help.

I am a very positive and upbeat person most all of the time. Yet….Sometimes…but not often…I occasionally spend a little time looking inward. It could be lonesomeness, social estrangement, a feeling of being dismissed because of my age, a sense of losing what used to be or quite frankly…itsy-bitsy moments of self indulgent pity.

I thought I might write a little poem to myself to rethink this and look from a different perspective.

ON STONEY WALK

To you who are forgotten ones

O leave yourself just now

And wing your lonesome thoughts to those

In mirrored pain somehow

Be music on their stoney walk

Sing hopeful melodies

Then would your heart and theirs take hold

Of joy and what can be

And as you vest unselfishly

with words as soothing mist

You will find a showering

of God’s own graciousness.

Jesus said…” You are the Salt of the Earth. The Light of the World.”

CHIPPING AWAY

It’s funny what I assume about people with a mere glance as I pass by, interact or stand somewhere observing them. Silently, I make my pronouncements and move on. It takes less then a second or two. Sometimes those lightning bolt conclusions emanate from faulty prescriptions I’ve registered in my mind.

I like the Publix grocery store Pam and I go to. They have nice check out people who ask you, “Did you find everything you needed” and quickly scan your items. There are also people who bag groceries for you, and they will take your stuff out to the car if you want. It’s really nice, especially after spinal fusion surgery. Usually the people who bag your groceries are either bright-eyed high school students working part time, or older gentle people working part time or even full time to subsidize their retirement income. Possibly some have lost their jobs and this is a temporary financial stopgap for them. However, I’ve come to find out, these were a misguided thoughts on my part.There are other reasons as well.

So I’m walking out with Fred (that’s not his real name), we start talking and he tells me he likes this job simply because he misses working with people, but does not want the pressure that comes with most positions. He explained, “This is no pressure, and I’ve discovered muscles I didn’t know I had.” We laughed. I pressed him further on his background and found out that he was Chief of Operations for a large department store chain. He had been in locations all over the US and just retired two years ago. We talked a little longer, then I thanked him for helping me, shook his hand and we parted ways. Sitting in the parking lot, I googled his name, and sure enough…there was his picture and blurb about his retirement from the company, including a few other earlier articles about him. I’m thinking…this guy is bagging my groceries.

I say this because I was deeply shamed, knowing, that for a split second, I had this self important, “I’m glad I’m not you” moment, as he carefully put my eggs and toilet paper in my environmentally friendly cloth grocery bags. I was ashamed of my quiet arrogance, that briefly assigned him a lesser place in my mind. It doesn’t matter that it was a split second…it matters that it was in my head at all. These are lovely people doing honorable work. That I would even allow that haughty thought residence in my brain, quite sickens me.

These are moments where who I really am, come to the surface. You know… those thoughts I think I get away with…. because I suppose no one will ever know. I’m prone to let people see only what I want them to see. …But God knows my heart. That’s why He has to keep chipping away at me…..often painfully …in order to sculpt me into His image.

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:40)

BABIES, WEDDINGS AND MARRIAGE

I love this picture, I know it’s been posted before, but it just makes me chuckle every time. …especially the “me neither” baby! It reminds me of when Pam and I talked about how many kids we were going to have when we got married. We were so madly in love then. Oh, it’s not that we’re not madly in love now…. It’s just that it’s a different kind of madly. As I looked at this baby photo, my mind swerved into an oncoming lane of unrelated thought, and my ADHD engine was sent crashing into subjects of matrimony and marriage.

Well, wedding season is in full bloom, and I enter into a time of year that is…well…not my favorite. Don’t get me wrong…I love the people who invite us to weddings, children included. I just don’t want to go to their wedding. I have to get dressed up in clothing I never wear except for funerals and weddings. (There’s gotta be some correlation there.) As I sit and read the program, I talk to myself…”Well now…Pachebel Canon In D….WHAT a surprise…I haven’t heard that played at a wedding …since, oh…maybe since, I don’t know, THE LAST 5,000 WEDDINGS I’VE BEEN TO?!!!!

Pam senses my turbulence and pats me on the leg, turns to me, looks me squarely in my eyes and tells me to smile and pay attention. I really don’t like her telling me what to do at weddings…. so I smile and pay attention. I watch the intended victim…Oh…I mean the groom as he stands at the altar (They should keep that spelling of “alter” with an E…because that’s surely what’s going to happen to them). He’s grinning as he watches his beautiful bride as she walks the aisle…. and I say to myself…”Buddy, you have NO earthly idea!!!! So here’s two tips for dealing with your new wife….Just do what you’re told …and appear interested.”

Even with our biblical guide, which is for those of the Christian faith, the foundation for how we navigate our matrimonial pledge, the difficult goal is to get that scripture …and your lives… all synched up. YOWSA!!!!! Pam and I are still getting synched.

We were in the kitchen yesterday morning, and as she brushed past me, I pulled her back and gave her a kiss. We stood there looking at each other for a moment, and I said, “That’s a little different kiss than those when we first fell in love. As I walked away, I turned around and said, “ I think there is a whole lot more living in that kiss , than the starry-eyed ones when we first met.”

I think I fell in love with her before she did with me, and I think her prenuptial reticence was because she actually had some inkling of what she might be getting herself into in dealing with me…I always had the potential to self explode, much like a malfunctioning Roman candle that could blast off every which way!!!” Thankfully I have survived myself, and I’m so glad she saw the light…however dimly lit.

Well our children came along and life took another turn. We managed the best we could and then had that most grievous and erroneous thought. We’ve all had this pipe dream at one time or another… You know….thinking that when they leave for college, your problems would be pretty much over, and you wouldn’t have to worry as much. Well let me let you in on a little secret…. Your problems and worries are NEVER over when it comes to your children. Your problems and worries are NEVER over when it comes to your grandchildren. YOU’RE JUST GETTING STARTED!!! It’s only over when you get to the twilight of your lives, and your children suddenly realize that YOU are the problem now. 😮

Well, that’s all I have on babies, weddings and marriage for now. I hope you didn’t mind me venting for a little therapeutic relief. Thank you all for your patience and understanding. Cheers!!!