Disappointment

I wrote this back in November 2013. I had been sorely disappointed with a concert I had gone to with Mary. Too much glitz, not enough real.

To be honest, I had forgotten a lot of the details of that evening until I reread this post.

Spoiler alert: The bottom line is that expectation sometimes leads to disappointment, and disappointment sometimes leads to ice cream — so in the end, it’s all good, right?


From November 2013 —

The fact that Sonic was already closed on the way home was the icing on the cake of disappointments.  Or, should I say – the ice cream.  I was so sure that a one dollar vanilla cone from Sonic would ease my pain.

Then, when Wendy’s didn’t have a vanilla Frosty milkshake, I was, like, “What do you mean you don’t have it? I’m looking at it on the sign!”

The polite night-shift server at Wendy’s explained. “Nobody ever ordered those, so they took it off the menu.”

“Well, they need to take it off their drive-thru menu as well,” I grumbled to myself.

So I drove across a four lane highway to get to Burger King.  Good thing it was 11:17 PM, and nobody else was on the road.

And at least they were open and had a Hershey’s Sundae Pie.

The things we do for our comfort foods.

It wasn’t the ice cream, though, that brought me back to reality.  It was riding home in the car with my dear, sweet 13-year old daughter, and thinking how precious it was that I could spend an evening with her.

Waiting in line. It was cold.

Waiting in line. It was cold.

It was remembering our laughter as we waited in line in the cold and sang Smothers Brothers songs to each other.

It was reflecting on the fact that she didn’t seem disappointed with the evening.  My own expectations had probably been too high.

I know people who try not to get excited over upcoming events.  “That way I won’t be disappointed,” they say.

Would I trade all the anticipation, all the eagerness, the thrill of imagining what was to come for a blasé attitude?

No, I think I’d rather ride the roller coaster.

And then treat myself to ice cream.

Incapable

Below is a(nother) dusted-off post from 2011. In 2011 my mother was still alive and living at home. She clearly had dementia and her body was slowly failing on her.  My father was her main care-provider, but that summer was hard on him, too. With all that was going on, I helped out as best I could.

Mom and Dad -- summer of 2011

Mom and Dad — summer of 2011

Last Thursday we went for the follow-up visit for my mother’s bladder biopsy.

The baby-faced doctor handed my father the pathology report.  “It’s bladder cancer, just as I suspected,” he said.

He continued speaking, “It’s high-grade papillary urothelial carcinoma.”  I could see the words on the path report in my father’s hands. “The cancer hasn’t spread past the lining of the bladder.  There is no invasion into the muscle or the subepithelial tissue.”

When he began discussing the treatment options, it was truly a discussion.  He listened to our concerns, answered questions, explained, and listened some more.

We finally reached the point in the process that I was anticipating (and dreading).

My mother is now incapable of making decisions, especially decisions like this.  She can decide what she wants for lunch — usually something involving marmalade.  She can decide what she wants to wear — usually the same thing she has been wearing for the past three days.  She can decide when she wants to take a nap — often.  She cannot make an informed decision about her health care.

My father has always shown the utmost respect for people and guarded their dignity.  I knew my father would want to include my mother in the decision-making process. When the moment came, my father turned to my mother and said, “I suppose we need to ask the patient what she would like to do.”

I started to pipe up, “Dad, I think we’re at the point when you need to make these decisions for Mom,” but my mother interrupted.

My mother, with the utmost clarity, said, “I don’t think I understand what’s going on.  I trust whatever you decide.”

Hallelujah!  If the angels weren’t singing in heaven, they were singing in my heart!

I hadn’t known to pray for this, but this was an answer to prayer.

The rest of the visit was a piece of cake.  We made the decision to simply wait.  At 83, any treatment may have been worse than the disease itself….

I had forgotten so much about that time period. The bladder cancer turned out to be a red herring. So many other things made that season hard. Had I know what lay ahead, I would have said that I was not capable of any of it.

But I was.

God makes our path a little windy so we can’t see what’s around the next bend. Perhaps if we knew, we wouldn’t want to go on.

Today, January 13, 2017, I can look back and say, Thank you, God, for getting me through those years. It makes it easier to trust You on the road I’m traveling now.

At the Post Office

Painting at the Fenimore Art Museum:  Village Post Office, 1873. Thomas Waterman Wood

Painting at the Fenimore Art Museum: Village Post Office, 1873. Thomas Waterman Wood

I stood in a very long line at the Post Office yesterday.

Post Office line definitions for a small town:

  • No line = go directly to the counter
  • Brief wait = someone already at the counter
  • Line = someone waiting, someone at the counter
  • Long line = 2 someones waiting, someone at the counter
  • Very long line = more than 2 people waiting in addition to the person at the counter.

Yesterday, when I first got there, a young couple was at the counter mailing several packages. They held whispered consultations with each other about every package. I think the cost was more than they expected. When the clerk announced, “That’ll be $79.50,” they looked at each other briefly before she swiped a card and they were done.

I still had two people ahead of me, but three or four people now stood behind me in this very, very long line.

The elderly woman at the front of the line approached the counter. She placed two packages on it.

“This one is FedEx,” the clerk said. “I can’t take it here, but you can mail this other one.”

“What?” the woman asked.

The clerk spoke slowly as she repeated in a louder voice, “This package goes to FEDEX. You have to take it down to THE COMMONS. But I can help you with THIS PACKAGE.”

I couldn’t hear what the elderly woman said, but I watched the postal clerk’s face soften.

“Let’s look at this one,” the clerk said, holding the FedEx mailer. “I don’t handle these but I think we can figure it out.”

She read aloud the instructions on the FedEx slip.

The man behind me groaned and left.

The woman ahead of me looked at me, shrugged, and followed him with her eyes out the door.

“You need to sign HERE,” the clerk was saying, “before you put it in the DROP BOX.”

The elderly woman said something.

“THE COMMONS,” said the clerk. “You know, THE SHOPPING CENTER SOUTH OF TOWN.”

The woman nodded and asked something.

“THERE’S A DROP BOX. YOU JUST HAVE TO PUT YOUR PACKAGE IN,” the clerk explained.

The door opened and closed several times over the course of this, each time bringing a wintry draft. I could feel the people behind me shuffling their feet and shifting packages between arms.

The clerk was remarkable — so pleasant, so patient, so unperturbed by the growing line. She took care of the package that was being mailed postal service and reminded the woman again where she needed to take her FedEx package, before turning her attention to the next person.

In this year of “Leaning In“, I knew that I needed to be more like the postal clerk. Too often I have been like the man who left, feeling the tick-tick-tick of time slipping away.

I don’t have time for this, I tell myself — but, really, what is so pressing?

Life is too short to rush through it.

Yesterday I learned something from an elderly woman who didn’t understand the difference between FedEx and USPS, and a postal clerk who took the time to help her.

I wonder what I can learn today if I slow down.

 

Journey

J is for Journey.

The bigger story of our lives is constantly being retold is smaller stories every day.

For example, my journey to Laity Lodge was series of steps which I could break down thus:

  1. Car ride to Binghamton
  2. Bus trip to NYC
    1. First bus to Monticello that broke down
    2. Second bus that safely delivered us to Port Authority
  3. Waiting at LaGuardia

    Waiting at LaGuardia

    Shuttle to LaGuardia

  4. Waiting in LaGuardia
  5. Flight to Charlotte
  6. Hurry through Charlotte airport from one plane directly to the boarding line for the next
  7. Flight to San Antonio
  8. Shuttle to hotel
  9. Night in hotel
  10. Ride to car rental agency
  11. Meeting up with friends
  12. Drive to Laity Lodge
    1. Stop for Texas barbecue
  13. Time at Laity Lodge
    1. Rest
    2. Refreshment
    3. Music
    4. Laughter
    5. Solitude
    6. Fellowship
  14. Drive back to San Antonio
  15. Flight to O’Hare
  16. Traversing the tunnels of O’Hare
  17. Flight to Syracuse
  18. Ride home

Each step has at least one story, complete with plot and interesting characters.

Sometimes I’m running. Sometimes I’m waiting.

Sometimes the bus breaks down or the flight is late.

Sometimes richness surrounds me and I am a partaker in a great feast.

Sometimes desert solitude surrounds me.

Sometimes my companion is a friend who laughs easily and shares their story.

Sometimes my companion is a stranger drinking screwdrivers to soothe the anxiety of flying.

Although I may look back on those four days as one trip, they really were a series of smaller stages, interactions, minutia. High points, low points, tension, and joy.

Peter Guber said it this way:

Every journey that is successful has culs-de-sac and speed bumps. I carry a wisdom gene through my life through the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Life is a journey. I’m glad I like traveling.