A Little Bit Older

We are all getting old. Some of us more than others, but still. We’re getting old. And forgetful. And sometimes we all get forgetful at the same time in ways that actually help each other out in our own forgetfulness. And sometimes it’s good for a laugh or two. Which is good.

I had a birthday recently. It was something more than 40 but less than 50. Closer to 40, at least for a little bit longer. I don’t publicize my birthday on Facebook, don’t tell a bunch of people, don’t remind folks, and… our administrative assistant quit posting them on the bulletin board at the end of last year. So I wasn’t expecting much. Life met expectations.

My husband and daughter wished me a happy birthday in the morning, but not my sons. My best friend from now and my best friend from days past each sent me a message in the morning before I got to work. My mom tried to call me around the actual time of my birth but got busy and called about 15 minutes late. I wasn’t at my desk so we didn’t talk until she called back later that evening. My eldest son then wished me a happy birthday when we met up at the restaurant complaining that “no one told me! I didn’t know!”

And that was that. And I was fine.

As we turned off the light and prepared for bed that night, my husband asked me if I had talked to either of my parents that day. I told him about my well-wishers and then said, “But it was strange. Penny didn’t say anything to me at work. She always wishes everyone a happy birthday. She’s got them all marked on her calendar on the wall.”

“Oh, shoot!” I said suddenly. “Grant’s birthday is coming up and I don’t have any more birthday cards in my desk! I’ve got to remember to get cards tomorrow.”

At which point I gave a mental thank you to Penny for forgetting my birthday and thus reminding me not to forget Grant’s.

The next morning, Penny slid into my office and I knew what was coming. “I forgot your birthday yesterday!” she said. “I’m really sorry. With this new job, I just don’t seem to look over at my calendar as much.”

“That’s ok,” I said, and then told her about my conversation the night before. “So, see. You helped me out. Thank you!”

But as you might guess, I forgot to buy a card for Grant that evening. I woke up the next morning, the day before Grant’s birthday and the last day of the work week. I was making small talk with my husband and told him about how Penny had given me belated birthday wishes the day before.

“Oh, shoot!” I exclaimed. “I forgot to buy Grant a card! Crap! I’ll have to stop at the store on my way to work, but man, I like to slip them in their office when they aren’t there. That’s going to be hard to do now.”

“You better hurry then,” he said, “so you can get in before Grant does.”

“Oh, it’s too late for that!” I said, laughing. “He’s already there.” Grant was always at work by 7, the time on the clock at that moment.

Nevertheless, I hustled along, actually remembered to stop at the store, and made it to work in just over an hour.

“You are lucky I’m here,” said Grant when I stopped to check on a project we were working on together. Expecting a tale of near-death, I listened with a certain amount of apprehension, but as the story went on, I became confused.

He and his wife had attended a wedding the night before. Which was strange, being a Thursday. The wedding had been at mealtime and the reception had been light on food. Was he telling me he nearly starved to death?

Not knowing the bride or groom at all, being present merely to support the groom’s parents, they slipped out soon after the reception ended and went out to eat. Ok, so maybe a near wreck somewhere along the way?

No, no wreck. They made it home safely. Spent a quiet remainder of the evening. So what had caused him to almost not make it to work?

The story continued to the morning. He woke up. He went into the kitchen. He started taking care of some bills or something. Like he always does. He heard his wife wake up so he put on the coffee for her. She soon came into the room.

“What are you still doing here?” she asked.

He was confused. “What do you mean?” he asked.

“But she wasn’t giving it up,” he told me, starting to chuckle. “She was going to make me work for it.”

Eventually, she said, “You think it’s Saturday, don’t you?”

He was sitting in his pajamas, contemplating whether to fix sausage and eggs, when he would normally have already been at work.

“It’s funny you should say that,” I said. And then I proceeded to tell him first about Penny forgetting my birthday and thus reminding me not to forget his. And then me forgetting to buy a card anyway and remembering as I told my husband about Penny remembering the next day. And then my husband telling me to hurry and me telling him that Grant was already at work. “Except you weren’t, were you?”

“No!” he said laughing. “I was still in my pajamas.”

We laughed some more and he told me I didn’t have to give him a card and I told him I would anyway. And later on, after he found the card on his desk – me having successfully placed it undetected while he was sitting there, he came in to my office to thank me and say again that it wasn’t necessary, and that now he understood why I had had a bit of glitter on my lip earlier. The card having had several colors of glittered balloons and gifts on the front.

There are a number of very young people in our work area now and they sometimes make me feel very old, older than I actually am. But moments like this help me keep it in perspective. There’s a lot of “old” going around. And we manage to have a good time with it.

 

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All Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

It was getting late in the day.  I was exhausted.  My back hurt.  My feet hurt.  I was weak and my stomach was growling so loudly that the neighbors called to ask if we had a new dog.  But I needed to push on.  Our to-do list was long and most of it simply had to be finished that day.

Most of my day had been filled with garage sale prep.  Some families from our Financial Peace University class are having a joint garage sale next weekend.  Since we will be out of town right on through the first day of the sale, we needed to have all of our stuff cleaned, sorted, priced, and delivered to some friends’ house by the end of the day.

I was almost done.  Then I noticed a bag sitting on a chair instead of in a box.  Oh, yeah, I thought.  I have some more bags and purses I was going to put with that.  I almost blew it off.  But, no, might as well get it all.  So I trudged into the laundry room and glanced at the shelf that held the tub full of old purses and bags.  It was underneath the tub stuffed full of gift bags and tissue paper. Oh, man, I thought.  I don’t want to move that heavy tub…  Oh, come on, just finish up.  And with that, I moved the top tub, opened the bottom tub, and extracted a half dozen purses and bags.

Back in the dining room, I opened one purse and dug out all the old receipts and what-not that I had been too lazy to remove when I stopped using it.  I stuck a price sticker on it and set it aside.  I picked up the next one.  One dollar, I thought to myself, noting how small it was.  It was remarkably clean inside.  No papers or other debris.  Check the inner zipper pocket, I told myself.  It looked empty but I stuck my hand in anyway, feeling for anything left behind.  On my last sweep, my fingers hit metal.

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It felt like a ring.  I smiled, wondering what bubble gum machine find I was about to extract.  What memories of brief childhood obsession might flood my mind when I took it out.  And then I looked at what I held in my hand.  I dropped the purse and clutched the ring tightly in both hands.  I looked quickly around the room and felt dazed.  My knees were weak.

I rushed to the front door, bumping boxes on my way out.  I fumbled to open the door because my hands were shaking.  I stumbled out and croaked my husband’s name.  He looked up, not quite alarmed, but concerned.  He told me later that he knew something significant had happened but he couldn’t guess what.

I ran to him.  Failing to slow down, I raised my hands so the one not occupied hit flat on his chest as I crashed into him.  He grasped me in a giant bear hug and asked me what was going on.  I cradled my clinched fist against his chest and pressed my face into his shoulder.

This was the moment.  I was only going to get to tell him once and then the moment would be past.  I wanted to savor it.  I wanted to shout from the mountaintops yet whisper it in his ear yet delay so the moment wouldn’t be over.

Finally, I pulled away and pried open my fingers.  He looked down into my hand.  Looked down at my long lost wedding ring.  And laughed.  He laughed and laughed and hugged me tight with such joy before asking, “Does it still fit?”

I swear my hands shook more than any bride on her wedding day as I gave it a try.  I had to stick my knuckle in my mouth in order to slide the ring past it, but I got it on.  And on it shall stay.

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“I guess I can’t give you a hard time about that anymore,” he said with a smile.

See, that ring was “the story.”  You know, every couple has at least one.  The one that gets trotted out to such great effect.  It usually happened something like this:

Someone would notice our tattoos on our left ring fingers and ask if we got those when we got married.  We would explain that we had gotten them for our 13th wedding anniversary.  And then we’d explain why: because we were always taking our rings off when backpacking, rock climbing, kayaking, etc.  My husband wanted it known that he was married all the time, so why not get tattoos?

Then the someone asking the question would ask another one.  “Well, do you still have your wedding rings?”

I do,” he’d say significantly.  All eyes would then turn to me as I finished the tale.

I’d shift a bit in mock discomfort.  “Well,” I’d say, slightly defensively, “we were going on an outdoor trip.  Three high points and then rock climbing.  I was afraid I’d lose it if I kept taking it on and off.  Or someone might steal the car while it was in there or something.  So I decided to just leave it at home.  But I didn’t want someone to steal it if they broke into the house.  So I hid it.  Really well.  Really well.  We still haven’t found it.”

That was something like seven years ago.  I thought for sure I had tucked it back in a drawer or on one of the shelves in the closet.  But we remodeled the closet and it wasn’t there.  And we sold the dresser and I thoroughly checked it before we let it leave.  We also gutted the bedroom – all the way down to the studs (not looking for the ring – just remodeling).  No ring.

I have insisted all these years that the ring would turn up.  Just like the five year anniversary ring did.  I took that one off while rock climbing indoors and then couldn’t find it.  It was missing for at least a year when we decided to get the tattoos, which were patterned off the anniversary ring.

I woke up the morning after the tattoo and broke out in a cold sweat when I saw my finger.  “Oh, my God!  Oh, my God!  What have I done?  What have I done?  I can’t cover this up!  It’s always visible!  A tattoo on my hand?!  What was I thinking?”

Eventually, I rolled out of bed and, for some reason, went looking for something in the closet.  What I found, in the inner zipper pocket of yet another old purse, was my anniversary ring.  I took it as a sign that the tattoo was not the end of the world after all.

So when I lost the wedding ring shortly thereafter, I told my husband it would turn up.  Just like the anniversary ring.  At first, I wasn’t worried.  I always knew I would find it.  Or maybe I should say that it would find me.  I knew that some day when I least expected it, there it’d be.  Unless I was being pessimistic.  On those days, I would resign myself to the fact that the ring must be gone.  After all, where could it possibly be?

Which brings us to today.  When I came *this close* to selling my ring for a dollar and never, ever, ever knowing what had happened to it… unless the lucky recipient was generous enough to bring it back.

Circumstances then lined up just right that we found ourselves childless at dinner time.  We decided that celebrating the ring was in order.  We chose Chinese food and sat across the table from each other, both staring at the ring.  And I ordered a Strawberry Daiquiri, my drink of choice from our younger days.  And we smiled.  A lot.

Now we just need his Senior class ring to show back up.  Yes, I lost that too.  It probably still has the maroon ribbon on it.  Wherever it is.20140712_202306

Better Late Than Never

My faith in the public school system, if not in the responsibility and punctuality of my eldest son, has been restored. At the expense of breaking a promise to you, my dearest readers. I sincerely hope you don’t mind.

I was standing in the dining room yesterday morning while young Daryl handed his Dad a piece of paper from the school. A paper that turned out to be a notice from the school cafeteria concerning the degree to which he had gone into debt from surreptitiously purchasing extra bags of chips and cookies with the money we had credited to his account for lunches.

“This says May 1st, Daryl!”

Daryl didn’t seem to understand the significance of his father’s remark.

“Do you know what today is?” …Daryl shook his head… “It’s May 20th!”

“Well, I didn’t get it on May 1st,” Daryl claimed. This, unfortunately, might very well be true. In our eight years of association with the elementary school, we have never found the cafeteria administration to be particularly prompt, nor consistent, in the execution of its money collection duties.  Then again, correspondence from the cafeteria is not the only communique frequently delayed in reaching in our hands.  As we were about to have demonstrated for us.

Shifting his weigh uncomfortably, he glanced up at me and sudden shocked remembrance passed across his face.

“Oh! Mom! I have a gift for you… that I forgot to give you for Mother’s Day.”

“Oh, really?” I asked with a wry smile on my face. “I wondered if the school had really not had you make something for me.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, giving me that sweet, shy grin that melts my heart and then topping it off with a big hug. “Let me go get it.”

He ran down the hall and explained on his way back that his teacher had tried to laminate it but the laminating machine had been out of plastic.

“That’s supposed to be a heart,” he explained, pointing to the space between the fingers and thumbs.

“I can tell,” I said with a smile before he bounded off on some other errand.

Well… better late than never. Better recognized briefly than not at all. Better to be his parent than not.

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Eggs

I’m responsible for providing the bread for visitors at church tomorrow so I checked supplies before heading out to drop Jane off at her Etiquette Dinner. As it so happened, the only carton of eggs in the fridge was full of boiled eggs, their little penciled B’s looking up at me when I peeked in the carton.

We live outside of town and the dinner was further outside of town. Oh, well. I’ll just have to stop at the convenience store and pay convenience prices for the eggs, I thought.

After dropping her off, I noticed my stomach starting to cramp. Just slightly. It had been painfully cramped all day yesterday. I started thinking about whether I should go to the doctor because this seemed to be happening too frequently. That made me begin to wonder what could be the cause. Diet? Some new food sensitivity? Something scarier?

Before long, I was having one of my full-blown dark fantasies. I was diagnosed with cancer, needing surgery and chemo. I started examining what the effects of such news would be. I wouldn’t be able to secure additional life insurance anymore. If I died, my husband wouldn’t have a lot to support him while he struggled to get on his feet. Even if I didn’t die, what would change?

I still don’t know if this imagination of mine is a good thing or bad. On the one hand, it allows me to explore how I would handle traumatic news without it actually happening. On the other hand, it chokes me up as if it is really happening and just seems kinda creepy.

At some point, I realized that I had driven past the convenience store. I pulled over and waited for the other cars to pass so I could turn around. Then I realized that I had not actually passed the convenience store. So once the road was clear, I resumed my journey.

I pulled into our driveway and verified Hal was still asleep in the backseat. I wondered if I could leave him sleeping without him being too scared when he woke up and was alone in the car. That reminded me that I had planned to leave him sleeping in the car while I ran into the store, which I had not done.

I circled out of the driveway, returned to the store, picked out a carton of eggs, and drove home without incident. Hal woke up when we got home so we entered the house together. I sat the carton on the counter and gathered the other ingredients. I fixed the batter and put the pan in the oven. I began cleanup.

Opening the door of the fridge, I looked for a spot to put the carton of eggs. There was room on the shelf under the carton of boiled eggs. I slid it into place. Right next to another carton of 12 raw eggs.

Perhaps it’s not cancer I need to worry about.

Did You Forget Anything?

Jane, who has been away from home this entire summer (save about ten days), commented today how much she misses her two best friends. Since they both live within walking distance of our church, I suggested that she invite them to our talent show tonight. So she did and one came.

When it was over, the normal post-event chaos ensued. Everyone milled around to congratulate the performers on a job well-done. Children ran to and fro at break-neck speeds, gushing hyper post-performance energy. As I left a conversation with the music director and her husband, I was approached with The Question.

The Question comes up anytime Jane is in the company of a friend and is often cleverly crafted in a way to make the request seem un-burdensome and even wise.

“Can Allison spend the night with us tonight? She’s going to the volleyball camp tomorrow, so it’d be real easy to drop her off too.”

“No. I have to drop you off at Madison’s house in the morning before work. Her mom is taking you to camp because Daddy has to take the boys to swim lessons.”

With that, she walked away and I thought the conversation was done. How foolish I was. The girls regrouped and approached Madison’s mom. When I was revisited, the plan had changed and had already been approved by at least one parent from each household. Jane had weighed her odds and approached her dad.

The new plan was that Jane and Allison were both going to spend the night at Madison’s house. Since Madison’s mom was already taking Jane to camp, after all, it’d be no problem. Of course, neither girl had brought her volleyball clothes to church that night. So all I had to do was run Jane home to get her clothes. Oh, and stop by Allison’s house to pick them up because they could walk down there to get Allison’s clothes. No big deal, so far as the girls saw it.

Various logistical problems ensued, including sending Daryl home with Madison’s mom so Allison could fit in our car. This solved the “it’s not fair” problem Daryl had with the whole arrangement by giving him some time with Madison’s brother Trenton. I also had to clarify to Allison’s mom that “spending the night with Jane” did not mean staying at Jane’s house, which then meant introducing her to Madison’s mom, whom she had never met, and assuring her that I was not sending our children home with an axe murderer. Eventually, though, we had the two girls in our car and drove home to get Jane’s stuff.

Before we left our house, I asked, “Did you get everything?”

“Yes.”

“Knee pads?”

“Oh, wait. No. Be right back.” She ran back to her room and when she returned, I resumed my checklist of items she usually forgets.

“Sports bra?”

“Oh, yeah. Better get that too.” As she returned, she suddenly remembered her tennis shoes. In the car, I ran down the remaining items. Shorts? Shirt? Socks? Hairbands? Deodorant? Toothbrush? Toothpaste? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. YES, Mom.

“Oh, by the way. We need to stop by Allison’s house. She forgot her kneepads.” On the way to Allison’s house, she remembered a couple more things that she had forgotten, including her shoes. Allison ran into her house to get the forgotten items while her mom stood at the door and shook her head in dismay. Then Jane yelped the tell-tale “Oh! Shoot!” and started rummaging through her bag. She hopped out just as Allison returned to the car. “Can I borrow an UnderArmour headband?” she asked.

“Sure,” said Allison, “What color?” Jane pondered the question while Allison ran down the possibilities and I thought What color?! Seriously? Does that even matter? Beggars can’t be choosers. Come on girls… Jane eventually settled on “anything with black on it” and we were soon on the road to Madison’s house.

When I finally made it home, I realized I had (ironically) forgotten my phone in the car. Opening the door to retrieve it, I saw a pair of tennis shoes in the front floorboard.

Do you need these tennis shoes in the floorboard? I texted.

Ohh crap yeah was the response.

Hmmm.

I don’t suppose you could bring them to me??

It’s a wonder these girls can even remember to get out of bed. I wonder what they’ll forget at Madison’s house when they leave for camp in the morning.

Addendum: The next morning, we transferred the shoes from my husband’s car to my truck. As I began to back out of the drive, I received a text from Jane: I think I left my Gatorade in the car too.

I hopped out and hustled over to the car, retrieved the Gatorade, and then resumed my trip. At Madison’s house, I carried in the two pairs of shoes (Jane’s father and I had disagreed with her shoe selection, believing the shoes with tiny welding burn holes were still a better choice than those falling apart at the toes), but missed the Gatorade, which had rolled off the seat during the drive.

I stated our case for the shoes. She stuck with her selection. I said I hoped she didn’t hurt herself diving for the ball. She asked for her Gatorade.

When I said I had left it in the car, she had the gall to tease me for forgetting an object that I care nothing about and which had been forgotten by the person for whom it is important. Then, on the way out the door, Allison called out from the couch, “Hey, Jane. Grab mine too please.”

“Wait, she forgot hers too? I didn’t bring the car, honey. If you needed me to search the backseat for her Gatorade, you should have said so.”

I’m at work (finally). Those girls are on their own now. God help them.

Forgetfulness on the Last Day of School

Last night, Daryl wanted us to let him stay up late to finish reading a book he had borrowed from his teacher. Since today was the last day of school, he needed to return it to her today. I didn’t let him stay up because, well, he had spent plenty of time playing a game on the computer instead of reading the book, which he had likely forgotten all about when he sat down at the computer.

This morning, my husband noticed that Daryl was reading a different book. “What about the one you have to return today?”

Daryl smiled a sheepish grin. “It’s on my pillow.” He confessed that he had read it by flashlight after going to bed and finished it. He then promptly forgot it was on his pillow and didn’t take it to school.

This was not the only case of forgetfulness this morning. Not by a long shot!

I was finishing my morning run on the treadmill when I saw the kids filing out the door to the car. “Hey!” I called out, “Aren’t you going to say goodbye?!”

Daryl and Hal kept walking. Jane, who was running back into the house yelled defensively, “I haven’t left yet! I will!”

But when I got off the treadmill, she was nowhere to be found. My husband came in to get a hug and I asked where she was. “Out in the truck,” he replied.

So off I went to say goodbye. As I opened her door, I asked, “Did you forget something?”

“Oh! Mommy! I’m sorry! I forgot!”

About the same time, Daddy looked at the boys in the backseat. “Did either one of you brush your hair?” Guilty expressions answered the question. “What about your teeth?” Heads hung in shame. “Get out. Get out of the truck now.”

“Daryl,” I chided. “You have to brush your teeth!”

“People forget things, Mo-om!”

“Not brushing your teeth, you don’t!” Ah… the irony those words would prove to be…

Soon enough, they were off to school and I entered the house to get ready for work. I noticed that my husband had left his cell phone on the arm of the couch. My first instinct was to call him and let him know.

Since that wasn’t possible, I thought it’d be fun to surprise Jane by calling her on his phone. But she didn’t answer. Frustrated, I called again. She sent me straight to voicemail. As I began to type out a text, she called me. Turned out, she thought her daddy was “butt calling” her (her words) so wasn’t answering!

I was now running late for work and was still a little overheated from the run after my shower. I decided to skip drying my hair as the heat seemed too much to bear. Skipping any part of my routine almost always has regretful consequences. Sure enough, I was halfway to work when I suddenly realized. Yes. I had forgotten to brush my teeth. Ok, kid. You win. But really, you “forget” every day. And unlike you, I have toothpaste and a toothbrush at my destination.

All I can say is that five brains had already checked out for the summer. It’s amazing we made it through the day.