Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Writing Day

This is my Writing Day. For years I have tried to eliminate anything but writing from this day, at least from 9-5. If I went to Zumba, as I did this morning, I’d start earlier so I’d get in my full day of writing. Steve would be in classes at NKU and I’d apply myself diligently.

Now Steve is retired. He has great intentions of leaving me alone on my Writing Day, but things come up—small things, certainly, but concentration-interrupters. They are always prefaced by “I hate to bother you on your writing day…,” which is very sweet.

This morning, one of them was to invite me to go with him to lunch on the river at a nearby marina, going, of course, in the convertible. It’s a beautiful day, so I measured my priorities and decided husband should come before writing, especially since my upcoming deadlines are in July, August, and October.

Turns out the marina is closed on Monday and Tuesday, so we picked up sandwiches and drinks at Subway and took them to the park by the river. Delightful!

I could tell he thought I was rushing it a bit to leave only 15 minutes after we’d finished eating, but he said nothing. Then, since our icemaker is non-functioning AGAIN (another sad story), we needed to buy ice en route home, so we went to our little “old Kroger,” as opposed to the super-duper Kroger Marketplace. He said he needed tomato juice and bottled water, so he got that and I got the ice and a couple of things. We agreed we would each check out and meet at the car.

I waited almost ten minutes for him to emerge from the store, and meanwhile I began to fume. That only lasted a few seconds, for I figured out long ago how to spend random moments such as this. I began praying again for some in special challenges right now—our friend who is trying to keep three jobs in order to pay her bills, our friends whose loved ones died and they are deeply grieving, a marriage that is in danger because the husband has fallen back to some of his past destructive habits. Those kinds of prayers can keep me occupied for a long time!

When Steve finally emerged, I chose to say nothing about the long wait. I’d figured he’d thought of dozens of other items, but evidently not.

Often even when he has a good excuse for something, he won’t say so because he disdains people who always make excuses. Fortunately, this time he said immediately, “Well, you might know the two things that would slow me down at this store—one, a person.” He grinned.

Surprised, I named a talkative friend of ours and, sure enough, that’s who he had run into. She had fallen playing tennis and was bruised and battered all over, even to a broken rib. A sad story that needed listening to. (And after all, he is the listening guru!)

Then there was some difficulty at the checkout, and someone’s groceries had to be unbagged and refigured before he could get through the line.

So he had good reasons, and I was sorry to hear of my friend’s misfortune. I got some perspective on my wait, and gained appreciation for my good health and good husband. And since I hadn’t written a blog post lately, I now had a plan for when I finally arrived at home. Waiting on the Lord (Psalm 27:14)is always in order, and sometimes waiting on our spouses works that way, too.

Friday, June 10, 2011

49 years later...

When in high school, there are few indications of what a person will be like 30 or 40 or 50 years later. Will the compassionate person still show kindness to all? Will the talkative one still talk a mile a minute? Will they still be complaining about their mothers? Will the homecoming queen be as beautiful as ever? Will the nurturer have lots of children? Will the academic one have advanced degrees? Will I still be a little jealous of this or that one? (We didn’t have any rich ones, so there’s no wondering if the little rich girl is still spoiled.)

In the first week of June, last year and this, some of those questions were answered. I’d occasionally seen one of my high school girlfriends, because she still lives in our hometown. The others I hadn’t seen since 1965, and had not even stayed in touch with all.

The compassionate ones still showed concern, offering to bring food or to cook while here, cleaning up after themselves and others. We all talked, but no one monopolized. The most common comment was, “Well, getting back to what I was saying about…,” because every comment triggered a sharable thought from one or two. No one complained about mothers, for only one is still on this earth. That daughter, however, has moved closer and not told her mother she's now two miles away and not twenty. There was talk of mothers, though, lots of it. Their quirks, their remembered comments, their personality traits, their faith.

The homecoming queen was still beautiful, especially on the inside. (We admired her cloud of white hair, keeping just the right amount of curl as we remembered. The rest of us admitted to coloring our hair--no longer anything to be ashamed of as it was for our mothers.) We were surprised to discover her hidden talents. As one said, “Who would ever have thought she’d be such an Earth Mother?” Her four children, ten grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren keep her busy, as she cooks for all every Sunday and helps out in numerous ways in between. Her faith sustains her through all the trials connected with many children and aging parents and the death of her mother. Her husband cares for her nonagenarian father daily, a blessing to the whole family. (Though I admit to a little resentment that my peer is a great-grandmother! I don’t see myself in that category.)

Four of the five of us are still married to our original spouses, married back in the days when marriage preceded living together and having children. One has no children, but she and her husband nurture friends and the children of friends and cared for her mother for years.

Some have had adventures, domestic and foreign. Some have quietly raised families faithful to the Lord, serving in their parents’ paths. From VISTA volunteers to teachers to nannies, all have served others in some way. I am proud of all of us, for the lives we’re living and for the faith we show in our conversations. “That was surely God at work!” and “I don’t see how people make it without faith in God” were common responses. I don’t recall our being all that spiritual in high school, but we’ve come around to it, following our own parents.

None of us lives more than five hours from where we grew up, and all are happy with where we are in life. We enjoy friends, family, and faith. What more could anyone ask?