Yesterday morning the General told me to stand up straight. We were on our way to church and I’d gotten out of the car to throw a bag of trash in the outside trash container. Apparently, my stature as I made my way to and from the trash receptacle was of concern to her. As I was getting back in the car, she made some reference to the fact that I looked old and stooped. Color it anyway you want to color it, but being told: “You need to stand up straight because you’re walking like an old man” doesn’t have a particularly pleasant ring to it. Maybe I’m in denial, but I am fairly resistive to the notion that she could be correct.
Saturday morning a friend made a comment related to my posting on Facebook that resonated with my heart. It had to do with her sharing a hug or the gift of touch with those whose lives have been deficit that level of connectivity. I made a brief response to her comment, but it was my intent to share more information. Something she shared reminded me of a poem written by a widow. The poet wrote about the difficulty of fitting into a world that seemed strangely distant from the world she once knew. Try as I may, I couldn’t remember the name of the poem, so consequently I let the thought go until now.
If I’m not mistaken, the first line of the poem states: “My hands are old. I’ve never said that out loud before, but they are”. The aged woman sharing her story laments the fact that she is referred to as “mother” or “grandma” or “aunt …”. She is never referred to by her first name. She describes those who periodically surround her as being proper, polite, and respectful, but distant. In fact, she can’t remember the last time someone gave her a hug or a loving embrace? She longs for her lost identity and for the simple pleasure of shared touch. For example, “When was the last time someone called her by her name? Her friends called her Minnie. At least, I’m remembering that her name was Minnie. She makes some reference to the fact that Minnie is gone and only an old woman remains.
I don’t know how old you have to be before you fall into the old category, but I’m not there yet. The General and I stopped by to visit a dear friend yesterday afternoon whose days are very limited. She’s been like a family member to us for the past thirty-eight years. She is in her mid-nineties, but I’ve never thought of her as old. She has lived her life with dignity and grace and is always a joy to be around. For the past several months she’s mentioned that it is time to go home, but I’ve been resistive to the concept. She is no longer in a place where shared communication is a possibility. Her condition hurts my heart, but she’ll be home soon. Despite that reality, I’ll never think of her as old because she isn’t.
Later yesterday afternoon the General said: “You seem really quiet. Are you feeling okay?” I really hadn’t given it much thought, but I responded: “Actually my back hurts. I think I’ll use the Jacuzzi tonight. Maybe that will help?” However, I was mostly quiet because thoughts of separation from a dear friend represent a level of pain. I guess you could say that I’m selfish.
Sometime it takes me a while to connect the dots in my head. Last night as I experienced the jets of pulsating water splashing against my back, I had the riddle associated to back pain figured out. It occurred to me that there could be a direct correlation to my spending a couple of hours on Saturday morning bent over pulling careless weeds from the General’s lawn to my inability to “strut my stuff” on Sunday morning. No wonder my back hurt! Indirectly, the General was partially responsible.
Of course, nobody actually made me pull weeds. Being obstinate is one of the negative characteristics that sometimes surfaces without my having to give it much thought. I guess it is a traveling companion with pouting. I can alternately play both sides of that coin. Of course, neither serves me well.
Actually, being outside on Saturday morning served me well. The time I invested in the lawn made it look better. There are few things you can do and immediately see a difference. Perhaps pulling weeds is one of those things like painting a room or ironing a stack of shirts. Once you’ve finished, you have the satisfaction of knowing the investment of your time made a difference.
I probably only spent about twenty minutes in the Jacuzzi last night, but it was relaxing and represented a time for thoughtful contemplation. For one thing, there figuratively wasn’t a star in the sky. It was totally dark last night. It was unusually dark last night. Actually, it felt a little bit eerie. When it is too dark to see your own hand in front of your face, it is dark. Of course, the Jacuzzi has any number of lights I could have turned on, but I was content to look up to a darkened sky.
In the resources of my mind, my thoughts were primarily on the dear friend we had visited with earlier in the day and her family. She is like a grandmother to my children. I guess for that matter, she has treated the General and I like her children as well. Much joy associated to our lives has been gifted us by sharing in her inclusiveness as family.
This little community has blessed my family tremendously. It is a great place to call home. The neighborhood is changing. More people are moving this direction, but they, too, represent strengths and gifts that make the community more of the same. They belong here and they have much to offer. The new comers I’ve met have also blessed my life.
Unless you own the land that touches your own, you really can’t limit growth or expansion. Sometimes I mistakenly think the good ole days in Henly were better, but I’d have missed much that has contributed to my life if I’d have been closed to including others in the network of my social value. Maybe sharing the gift of inclusiveness with others is the best way to make one’s own life better. I know that represents truth in my experience.
All My Best!