Hard Times, But Good to Come

Apologies to any and all who read for the fact that I haven’t been posting as much as I’d like. Let’s just say that I get the “I should post” thought about a dozen times each day. The days that I actually post, double that number, multiply it by 3, subtract by 4, and that’s the number of times I think about posting. Oh, and those days also generally include the “ambition” factor.

Regardless, I usually like to post when I’m uber excited about something or feeling happy enough to step into your lives with a thought or random how-to or whatever. I hate, hate, hate negative posts. There’s enough complaining in life. I’m pretty much of the “Yeah, okay, deal with it” realm, except with those I feel close enough to divulge secret insecurities or worries. Generally speaking, I was raise to feel that when there’s nothing you can do about a problem, you’ve gotta stop worrying and over-thinking (and bitching). The times in life that this is the best advice, I find, is during those death and dying moments.

So, I hope you find this to be an informative “what’s going on with me” post, rather than a “wow, life sucks so much, feel sorry for me” post. Thanks for understanding!

The past week has been, for lack of a better word, rough. On Saturday, my dear brother-in-law lost his also-dear grandmother (aka Boppy), whom we all knew quite well. It was relatively unexpected, but she was 90 and had even walked herself into the hospital the prior week; in other words, it was a good life, but a sad loss for those who knew her.

Later that day, we learned of the passing of my sister-in-law’s father. This news was expected, but it was heart-breaking, nonetheless. He had been fighting cancer for a relatively short time (actually, so had Boppy, come to think of it), and my SIL was driving out to see him regularly. While I didn’t know him well, I had met him several times and knew him to be a jovial, laid-back, sweet man who loved his children and grandchildren dearly. Thinking of the private memorial service that she, my brother, my niece and nephew, and Mom and stepdad will be sitting through tomorrow saddens me and leaves a heaviness on my chest that I just can’t seem to shake.

Then, while at my mother’s Sunday for a small (like, Dave and I and the ‘rents, that’s it) Father’s Day celebration, my mom got the call about her Uncle Fran. Hearing her, a usually rock solid individual, wail and uncontrollably cry at the news shook me to my core. I’m not a weak person, but death has an embarrassingly tearful affect on me – I think I’m making up for all the tears I was too stupid not to cry at my father’s funeral when I was 3. And, knowing what a sweet, kind, charitable, simply LOVED man he was pretty much nailed me to the wall. I knew that he was Mom’s favorite uncle by far, that he did things for her that made her feel special (when she was all too often forgotten), and that connection was clear in her response to his death this week.

While she continued to talk on the phone with Uncle Fran’s son, she suggested that Dave and I make our visit to see my grandfather, as we had already planned, but to keep mum about his brother’s passing. I couldn’t have physically done it if she hadn’t told me to, but to my surprise, I didn’t shed a single tear or let on that anything in the world was wrong. It was too important to see Grandpa, especially on a good day, and to remind him, silently, of my appreciation for his fatherly care on Father’s Day. He performed the role that I needed until my stepdad came along, although, even then, he remained just as important. And I’m proud to say that he took the news of his brother, later, with strength and respect, as always.

I am, by comparison to my siblings and other relatives, quite lucky that I didn’t lose someone terribly close and dear to me. My heart aches for their losses, and I still cry to think of the holes that have been left, but hope that the rule of threes stays that way for awhile. I think we all need a rest. It saddens me to think about who the next to pass will be, and that I may not be strong enough to handle it with the same grace that so many of my loved ones showed this week.

On a plus side, this was also my last week at school – so I have one week off before summer school starts, in full. I am hoping to distract myself by posting more over the summer, and to be a tad more interesting than I have been lately. The recent clothing post had me thinking about appropriate attire at funerals and wakes (and wondering if I’d dressed appropriately enough!), so I guess my mind is always escaping here, anyway. Hope all is well in your worlds.

Kids Say the Darnedest Things…

It was a pretty hard week. The kind where one more thing couldn’t possibly make it worse…then does. Where you’ve got several days blocked with many, many students, you’re introducing a concept they should have been practicing since 4th grade (but are just being made aware of as high schoolers) and frustration from every party involved is imminent. The kind of week where any additional attitude magnifies itself beyond frustration. When you’ve got an observation scheduled, on top of everything else, and it seems like there wasn’t a break from the week prior.

The kind of week that was so much harder for your husband, you feel mortally guilty to mention a word of your horrid week at home. The kind of week where you question yourself. The kind of week where your grandfather is transferred from rehab for psychiatric evaluation, and in your heart you’d rather be with him and knowing exactly what’s going on than anywhere else in the world. The kind of week that brings waves of unthinkably bad news, all affecting the folks at school. The kind of week that you’d kinda like to give up.

Today, in the midst of the down slope of that treacherous week, the students gave me hope, in the form of a small gesture of kindness, and a good laugh.

While monitoring a 7th grade Spanish class in the library working on a project, I had a girl call me over to her table. I made my way over, after quickly helping a couple of other kids first. She sat there, along with two other silent girls. Bluntly, she said, “You are soooo pretty, y’know.” I was shocked, and thanked her, and walked away feeling that the weekend had already started.

You see, I’ve been having some self esteem issues lately, so a genuine comment like that from a middle schooler (generally a highly critical breed of human) struck an unexpected chord. It was as if the popular kids back in high school were suddenly very nice, specifically to ME, the outgoing but awkward band geek. Of course, the thought that she was joking crossed my mind for a second, but the fact that she and the other girls all smiled (let’s face it, I’m pretty used to the “turn your back, snicker” thing that we get all too often in the library) indicated that there was sincerity involved. It pretty much made my day.

At another point in the day, I was reading a book to 4th graders. In it, the phrase “No wonder they pity us” was uttered, to which a student said, “That’s what Mr. T. has on his hands. They’re, like, rings or something.” Before I knew it, I was doing my Mr. T. impersonation – “Oh, yeah, Mr. T! ‘I pity duh fooh.’ So, what does pity mean?” Wait, did I even know I HAD a Mr. T. impression?? And how old WAS this kid that he knew Mr. T.?! So, I asked how he knew — apparently he watches “The A Team” (…TV Land, maybe?). 

Kids started sharing what THEY watch, or who THEY know from “olden times”. Suddenly, I heard a name that sounded a little too familiar. A quiet voice squeaked, “I know Dwight Shrute.” Wait. That’s not even an old reference. And what 4th grader watches “The Office”?! I stood there, dumbstruck, staring at the pint-sized girl. Somehow, I wasn’t too surprised. She lives on a farm, after all…who couldn’t relate to Dwight Shrute’s shrewd agricultural talents?

Sometimes it’s the little things that drag you out of the muck, unexpectedly. And who else is an expert on “the little things” but kids? And how can a reference to “The Office” not make you smile?