Not A Laughing Matter

Aside

Dear Nurse Practitioner,

I understand you guys get backed up.  I get it.  Especially when you had to reschedule my appointment for the following week after you got sick and had to cancel my original appointment.  I bet you packed the schedule tight to get us all worked in.  And my 11:15 appointment was likely at the end of the morning batch of patients, so I knew I’d bear the brunt of all the little delays that built over the course of the morning.  But I also knew that my time with you would be brief so I was hopeful that I’d be back at work by 1:00.

So when I wasn’t called back until 11:40, I was mildly annoyed but not upset or worried about my time.  These things happen.  The nurse took my blood pressure and then told me to strip from the waist down.  You’d be in shortly, she told me.  So I wrapped the little pink paper blanket around my waist and hopped up on the table.

I played Candy Crush until I ran out of lives and my back began to hurt.  I laid back on the table, propping my feet up in the stirrups to relieve pressure on my lower back, altered the time on my phone to get more lives, and continued to wait.  By 12:20, I was beginning to wonder if I needed to call work and reschedule my afternoon.  Eating lunch before my 1:15 meeting was looking very questionable.  Still, these things happen.  So while I had hoped the appointment would go faster, I still wasn’t upset.  Just resigned.

And then you walked in.  Forty five minutes after I stripped for the exam.  I suppose you were nervous about how I might react to having been kept waiting for so long.  You probably thought some humor would defuse the situation.  If you could just laugh and get me to laugh with you, then you could believe everything is ok.  We could be friends.  Or at least friendly.

You have a strange sense of humor though.  Let me suggest that when you have left a woman lying half naked on an exam table for so long that her hips and back have seized up to the point that she isn’t sure she can scoot that bare bum to the edge of the table, you might want to just apologize for the delay and promise a speedy conclusion.

Joking with her about how long she was left waiting is a terrible idea.  I bet you were wondering how long you were going to have to wait, huh? *chuckle* *chuckle* Silence from me.  Probably thought we should feed you lunch, huh? *chuckle* Silence.  That’s the least we could have done, huh?  You’re probably getting pretty hungry.  You ought to at least be offered a soda, right? *chuckle* Silence as I struggle into position.  Even airlines offer you a soda for a one hour flight, right? *chuckle* *chuckle* More silence.  I was on a one hour flight the other day and they rolled out the beverage cart!  I couldn’t believe it! *chuckle* Silence.

I was silent because I didn’t want to “make it all ok” by laughing, even fake laughing.  And I didn’t know how to respond.  What did you expect me to say?  Yes, in fact, I was hungry.  And about ready to use the bathroom again, as I said when you asked me if my bladder was empty and I said it was when I entered the room some time ago.  And now that you mention it, wow, it would have been kind of nice if the nurse had offered me something to drink.  Or at least come in and told me how much longer it was going to be.  Or check that I was ok.  Something. Now that you mention it.

Please remember that I was not particularly upset before you walked in the door.  But after you went on and on about the delay, you convinced me.  It was excessive.  And uncomfortable.  And your joking about it obnoxious and a bit offensive.  And now I’m upset.  So thanks.  And please do me a favor.  When I come back in about five years, just come in and say, “Hey!  Sorry about the delay.  I’m going to get you out of here as quick as I can.”  That’d work swell for me.

Sincerely,

The Girl Who Waited

(Sorry, couldn’t resist a nod to Doctor Who in the signature line…)

Seriously. I Don’t Have TV.

Dear Samsung,

I love my Galaxy S4. I’ve never been the person that buys the newest, hottest phone on the market. I usually buy the one with the operating system that’s just old enough that it doesn’t do any of the things that the salesperson thinks all phones do. And it costs around $50 or less when I renew my contract.

This year, I decided I was tired of having a terrible camera and the inability to do the cool stuff that everyone else was doing. I decided I wanted it all. Maybe it’s because I turn 40 next year. I don’t know. I looked at HTC’s rival phone but went with the S4 instead, mostly because of the superior camera.

And I love it.

There’s been some quirks, don’t get me wrong. When I first got it, it wouldn’t give an audible indication that I had received a text message. I fiddled with the gazillion options and settings and even power cycled the phone but nothing worked. After some Google hunting, I tried turning the phone off, popping the battery out, putting it back together, and turning it back on. To my surprise (and pleasure), that worked.

So I’ve had the phone for four months now and I couldn’t be happier with it. But something happened on this most recent automatic upgrade that has me miffed. You installed a new app: WatchON. This app can supposedly control my TV. It can also suggest TV shows I might like based on shows I watch.

Whatever. We don’t have television, so… thanks but no thanks. I cleared the notification from my notification screen and went on with my life.

The next day, the notification returned. I dismissed it. The next day, it was back.

Okay, fine. I’ll go ahead and set it up. You asked for my country and zip code and then gave me a list of all the television service providers in my area. You didn’t give an option for those of us who don’t have television. Right, because we don’t have a use for this app, do we?

I selected that it wasn’t listed and your app chastised me for obviously giving an invalid location since I couldn’t select something from the list. I exited out and cleared the notification. Again. Eventually, after a week or so of being notified to setup something that I absolutely cannot setup because you don’t think people like me exist, I decided to uninstall the app.

That’s when I learned that I’m not allowed to uninstall this particular app. So let me get this straight.

1) You installed the app on my phone.
2) You keep notifying me (in a large and annoying way) that I need to set it up.
3) You don’t allow me the option to say I’m not interested.
4) You don’t offer a “no TV provider” option.
5) You won’t allow me to uninstall it from my phone.

Seriously. Not everyone watches TV. And some of the others (like us) just watch online or through Netflix and Amazon Prime. We don’t have a television provider.

I finally just went through the setup, picking one of the listed providers. I’m hoping this will satisfy the beast. I hope I don’t get more notifications about how I’m not making use of this wonderful new app. You lost some cool points on this one. Keep it up and I might just try out that HTC next time.

Sincerely,

NO Watch ON

She’s Growing Up

Dear Papa Bill,

I was at work today, just sitting there writing a little program to collect statistics on CPU usage.  Nothing exciting at all, really, but I was content.  A small portion of my mind that wasn’t needed for focusing on the task at hand, that part dedicated to singing earworm songs and worrying about upcoming activities, was pondering how much Jane has grown up.

She made the school volleyball team and she’s really fired up about it.  She’s still playing the viola but I guess you were gone before she had even started that.  It’s hard to believe how much time has passed.  Now she’s in the band too, playing the flute.  It’s her favorite class.  She’s in all Pre-AP courses and working hard at them.  But it’s volleyball that I was thinking about as I toiled away at my keyboard.

When her Daddy took her to order her school-color workout clothes, she saw the letter jackets and was so very excited.  She can’t wait for the opportunity to letter in volleyball.  Then a couple of days ago, they poked their heads in the gym to watch the high school team play.  Each girl has a large poster with her picture on the wall of the gym.  Jane’s face lit up.  She’s already dreaming about being on one of those posters.

She works hard.  She’s not the best girl on the team but she’s big and strong and plays well.  We are anticipating traveling for games for many years to come.  And so it was that I was imagining mom and her boyfriend standing at the edge of the court, waiting to congratulate her on a game well-played.  Suddenly, it wasn’t Hugh standing next to mom; it was you.

I was immediately in tears.  My throat tightened up and hurt.  I turned my back to my cubicle door and grabbed a tissue.  I can’t even remember the last time I missed you so deeply; I thought I was well and truly past all that.

You would have been so proud of her.  You never showed a lot of emotion but in that little mental image, I saw the small smile that would have been on your face.  It felt so real.  So incredibly, achingly real.  You were special to her and I know she was to you as well, the first grandchild.  I never imagined that you wouldn’t be around to watch her grow up.  And then once you were gone, after awhile, I never thought about what you were missing.  Until today.  When I sat sobbing over what will never be while running CPU statistics on my screen and hoping no one would notice.

Some people believe they know for sure that our departed loved ones are watching from above.  I don’t know that.  I hope, but I don’t know.  In that brief moment, though, you were there and you were smiling.  Thank you for making it to one of her games, even if only in my imagination.

I love you,

Your daughter

What Your Wrist Says About You

Dear Truck Stop Janitor,

I was walking by as you authoritatively lectured to the couple you had cornered in the hallway. You had your hand raised, with your middle finger and thumb bent toward each other, separated by a tiny gap.

You confidently explained that if the two fingers don’t touch, it means you are overweight. “Too skinny,” you said, gesturing toward the slightly overweight woman. “That’s what you are – too skinny.”

The woman laughed nervously and said she didn’t think so as they edged past you and hurried away. My daughter and I then entered the bathroom. I turned to her and asked, “Who can’t touch their middle finger with their thumb?”

“I don’t know,” she replied, demonstrating that she could. “Maybe I could imagine a really, really fat person being so overweight they couldn’t bend their fingers, but…”

I was ready to write you off as an ignorant fool but I had a hard time imagining someone being quite that bad so I continued to ponder it until I figured it out (I think).

You were referring to the body type test that has you wrap your middle finger and thumb around your wrist. If the two overlap, you have a small bone structure. If they just touch, medium. If they don’t touch at all, large. It’s a good test because the wrist is arguably the boniest part of your body. It’s chosen precisely because you don’t put on weight there. At least, not until you are so overweight no one would need to check your wrist to see it.

My fingers have always overlapped. By a lot. I’m a couple of pounds under being considered overweight, according to BMI. But I could put on 40 pounds and my fingers would still overlap. In fact, just before I gave birth, with 40 extra pounds and considerable water retention, they did so.

My daughter, on the other hand, hasn’t been able to touch those fingers around her wrist for a couple of years now. Athletically built, no one would dare call her overweight. She just inherited the Eastern European large bone structure of her father.

So, dude, you were spouting nonsense. My husband says that at least you were paying attention to something. I’d argue you weren’t paying much attention at all since you had it wrong. But you gave me a nice puzzle to solve, so for that, I thank you.

Sincerely,

Small-wristed woman passing by

Your Laugh

Dear Papa Bill,

I thought about you a lot tonight. It was my first year to participate in Relay for Life since shortly after Hal was born. I lined up next to the track for the Survivor Walk and before the first survivor reached me, I was fighting back tears. You were a survivor for quite awhile but eventually cancer took you from us. I was 32. Jane was 5. Daryl was 2.

Mom moved on. She’s happy again. I think you’d be pleased to know that. It wasn’t an easy trial to pass through but she’s doing alright. She has a good man in her life. He knew you and respects your memory. Five years ago, they sold the house that we lived in all those years and moved across town.

I was pregnant with Hal and picked the move day to share that with her. It might not have been the best idea I’ve ever had. Telling her that news on such a fragile day. She burst into tears, which surprised me… until she explained why. It was you. You wouldn’t ever meet Hal. Wouldn’t hold him, smile at him, make him laugh.

That was one of the last things that you and I talked about, there in the hospital when we all knew it was the end. You wanted your grandchildren to remember you. You were pragmatic about it. You knew that Aaron’s kids and Daryl were too young.

And so it was that I found myself walking the track tonight, holding Daryl’s hand. He asked me why I was sad. I told him that I missed you and then he asked why.

“Because he was my Daddy,” I said.

“I thought Grandpa Ed was your Dad.”

“He was. And is. Papa Bill was my step-dad, but really he was my daddy too.”

“Oh.”

“Do you remember him?” I held my breath. I was pretty sure I knew the answer.

“Not really.” {long pause} “Wait. Didn’t he have like a little beard? And glasses! I remember his glasses.”

Maybe he just remembers you from pictures or maybe he really remembers you, but I’ll take the comfort he threw my way tonight.

Later on, I was walking the Luminaria Walk with Jane. We walked hand-in-hand as I thought about you. And Aunt Barbara. And the kids’ godmother. And other people. But mostly you.

I thought about how we were so close when I was little and how we had grown apart when I married. I thought about how you weren’t perfect, how I had struggled with that once I was old enough to see it. I thought about how much you loved me and Aaron and mom. I remembered when I scratched my initials and yours in the wallpaper of the bathroom with a plus sign in between and “= love 4ever” after it. And then I began to sob.

Jane wrapped her arm around me and we continued to walk in a silent hug. I was grateful for the dark that hid my tears but even more grateful for the beautiful, wonderful girl walking beside me. I battled inside about whether to ask her the same question I asked Daryl. I was scared to hear the response.

You see, when we talked that last time, you knew Daryl wouldn’t remember you. It hurt, I could tell, but you accepted it. It was vitally important to you, however, that Jane remember. You were confident that she was old enough. Your greatest fear was that she wouldn’t. You didn’t want to be forgotten.

She remembered you intensely for a very long time. She’d burst into tears at random moments and tell us that she missed her Papa Bill. For a couple of years, she was very sensitive about sad events. She cried watching Because of Winn-Dixie because it reminded her of losing you. Now, everyone cries at the end of Old Yeller, but when she cried, she was thinking of you.

Most everyone moves on, given enough time…especially if they are young, and eventually she did too. I can still hear her little preschool voice saying “Papa Bill” – she said “Bill” more like “Bea-ul”. But now, her life is full of many things. I didn’t know if she remembered you or not.

So I kept warring with myself on whether to ask her. To know that she did would warm my heart. To know that she didn’t would break it.

She let go of my shoulders and took my hand, mumbling an apology about it being too hot. I tentatively asked her if she remembered you.

“Barely,” she responded, with a careful look at my face. “I remember what he looked like. And I remember his laugh.”

She remembers your laugh. I think that if she was destined to remember only one thing, that was the best thing to remember. She remembers your laugh and I hope that’s enough. I love you and miss you.

Your daughter,

A Note to My Youngest Child

Sweetheart,

If you really want to pop the top on the shredded Parmesan cheese and “drink” it down, you might want to make sure you aren’t standing in front of the dining room window where your mother can see you. Just a thought, honey.

And, no, quickly hiding under the table when I run in the house will not cause me to believe that it wasn’t you.

Sincerely,

Your loving and ever-surprised Mother

Lady in Red

A dear friend of mine has a delightful blog that you can read here. Being a person in the same stage of life as me and blessed with quirky children, same as me, her blog has a similar flavor to mine. I highly recommend it. One of my favorite styles she employs is her open letter to a person she encounters on an average day. Her letters showcase her ironic wit quite nicely. I encountered such a person recently and as I contemplated how to tell her story, Roshaunda’s open letters kept coming to mind. So here’s my open letter and I trust that my friend will remember that imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery.

Dear Lady in Red,

I know why you are here. It’s the same reason I am. We are both wearing red and that is what allows us to be in this little room with the mood lighting and all the free stuff. Actually, I bet they’d let us in here even if we weren’t wearing red, but wearing red was the key to getting the free stuff. And you are definitely here for the free stuff. I can see the mad glint in your eye as you rush from item to item, stuffing it into your bag.

Now, I can understand why you would hurry to grab one of those heart-shaped stress balls. Everyone needs one of those and with only a hundred or so in the box, I can see why you might be concerned about them running out. Especially since there is a herd of… 2 or 3 people rapidly approaching the room. And the Dove dark chocolate, of course. Quite tasty and I am sure that the ones scattered across the table are all they have. They surely wouldn’t have any more bags behind the table to replenish the supply. I even understand grabbing all the pamphlets. They are kind of the point anyway and I’m sure you plan to study the information very closely when you get home.

No, I understand the value in acquiring all of those things. What I don’t understand is why you were so interested in possessing one of the vials of yellow fake-fat goo. I was comparing a couple of them from the display when you came up beside me. I was shocked to discover that a McDonald’s sausage biscuit has the same amount of fat as the infamous Big Mac. Before I had a chance to put them back and look at another, you walked up and asked what they were.

“Oh,” I said, “These are just vials showing us the relative amounts of fat in various foods we eat.”

You shocked me even more than the sausage biscuit when you grunted an “oh” and then grabbed a vial and dropped it in your bag. You were already turning to head to the ice chest with the mini bottles of water when I came to.

“No, wait. Those aren’t for us to take. They are just for us to look at.”

Another “oh” and you fished out the vial and returned it to the display. I’m wondering what you planned to do with the vial. Were you going to lay it on your kitchen windowsill? Or maybe give it a place of prominence at the center of your dining room table, informing all of your guests about the amount of fat in a Krispy Kreme doughnut?

No, I suppose you were grabbing it just because it was free. As a recovering pack rat, I find your free frenzy quite close to insane. But if “free” is that important to you, I set out a ton of free stuff every Monday morning. It’s even already in a large black bag for you. You’ll just have to make sure you get here before the garbage man arrives. He likes free stuff too.

Sincerely,

Another Woman in Red