Sunday, November 29, 2015

What's Not to be Thankful For?

Note:  I am beginning a new blog titled Only Thankful Observations today.  It will be written a bit more regularly than this one, every Sunday evening, and will be more of a personal gratitude journal.  You are welcome to subscribe to it and follow along, and I'd love it if some of you would add your own summation of what you are grateful for in the previous week in the "Comments" section.  I won't be posting notifications of that blog on Facebook, however.  You can find it by just googling Only Thankful Observations, then click to be notified by e-mail when there's a new post.

It's Thanksgiving weekend, and a somewhat dreary one at that.  I look out the door outside my office into the back yard which is ablaze with color and I see the little courtyard with the stepping stones representing a project done by most of my grandchildren, mostly to humor me, but with good cheer nonetheless.  The trees down the hill are ablaze with gold and red while out in another part of the yard, I still have some lovely blooming plants still chugging along in spite of cooler nights.
We have just returned from a wonderful trip to Sewanee, Tennessee where our gracious in-laws shared "their" Thanksgiving year with our mutual grandchildren with us.  They didn't have to do this.  When Molly laid down the rules for sharing the holidays twenty years ago when she got married, they didn't allow for the fact that our family would one day include seven grandchildren and one of them would have a short Thanksgiving holiday home from college, and that if his other grandparents got to enjoy their usual Thanksgiving at their second home in Sewanee...we wouldn't see him at all!  But, they are wonderful in-laws, and they included us, and for that I am truly thankful.  I wouldn't take anything for the time around a bonfire with a full moon above us or a rousing game of Scrabble and the little ones acting out Charades and finally a quiet breakfast where Robert shared a little more about his college life with us before we headed home.
Walker III didn't feel all that great, but I'm so thankful that he has learned to speak up when he needs allergy medicine and soldier on in spite of not being 100%.  He was a real trooper.
Most of all I'm thankful today for the man I married almost fifty years ago.  He seldom complains, although I ask an awful lot of him sometimes.  Yesterday was one of those times.  Since we have a short window and a lot going on between now and Christmas, I asked if we could go ahead and get the Christmas tree up.  (We gave into an artificial tree years ago because of the allergies mentioned above.)  It was a dreary day, and the Auburn-Alabama game didn't start until mid afternoon, so he really didn't have much of a reason to say no, so we called a helper, and managed to get the tree assembled and eat a bite of lunch with just enough time left for him to make a quick run to the grocery before the game.  He is a saint about that kind of thing. 

 Well, the quick run ended up taking a lot longer than he had counted on, AND he had failed to check to make sure the game was going to record.  I had gotten restless, and turned it on about ten minutes into the first quarter and started the recording, but his much loved sighting of the eagle flying down at kickoff was not captured.
He never uttered a peep.  I felt terrible because all the things I had on my list were done, and his big day was spoiled...and he never uttered a peep.
Yes, he's a saint and much better than I deserve.  I'll bake some of his favorite oatmeal cookies this afternoon and feel a little better about what happened, and he probably won't utter a peep about them either, but I'll feel a little less guilty, and from now on, he will see that eagle fly!


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Bad Seed and Walker

One of the most difficult jobs in our family is running interference for Walker at work from time to time. If there is a pay problem or schedule problem or a personnel problem, I generally turn it over to his dad and his more laid back nature. A while back, we got a call from Walker's boss that they were going to send him home because he had been rude to a customer, had called her a name. I sent Big Walker to deal with it, because I was afraid I'd get either angry or emotional if they fired him, and this sounded pretty serious. While I stayed home and worried myself sick, Walker handled the whole incident calmly, and they let Little Walker finish the work day after all, much to my relief.

By the time they got home after work, I had calmed down enough to ask the magic questions and figure out what had happened, one thing I'm much better at doing.

Something just didn't add up. Walker gave up curse words many, many years ago after a mouthful of our favorite cursing remedy, a drop of Ivory Liquid on the tongue. About the worst thing he ever called anyone was when he announced that Sister Judy was a pig when he was about five years old. He might get angry, and he had even fired his boss a couple of times when he was unhappy, but cursing just wasn't in his repertoire

Even my son-in-law, John, who has initiated Walker into the kind of guy repartee that he never learned at Catholic School, had never aggravated him enough to get him to curse. He just doesn't do that. Not that he doesn't occasionally hear an expletive from his dad or me, but he knows better than to use one. Or so I thought.

Now he had called a customer a bitch. He had apologized, somewhat under duress, and wasn't going to lose his job, but I couldn't let it rest.

"Walker, could you just tell me exactly what happened today at work," I asked as he sat uncomfortably on the couch, shifting around and avoiding eye-contact.

"Well, this is really embarrassing...." Long pause.

"That's okay. You're not going to get in trouble. I just need to know what happened. Did you call a customer a name?" Another very long pause. He knew I knew.

"Well, yeah, I'm really sorry...I did...but she was really rude to me...I just can't tell you..." Tears welled up in his eyes.

"It's okay. Just tell me what you called her." Tears welled in my eyes too.

"Well...I called her a Bad Seed...She really was...She said she wanted paper instead of plastic, and I didn't hear her, and when I started loading plastic she yelled at me so I called her a Bad Seed. I promise it won't happen again. I know I might lose my job."

Now this made sense in Walkerese...almost. He talks in movie talk a lot, but most of the movies are Disney and at the most PG rated. I was kind of bewildered that he might have seen "The Bad Seed", a movie about a wicked little girl that came out in the '50's and one that I didn't remember from his shelf last time I had cleaned and sorted out. Turns out, there was a reference to the old movie in one of his newer favorites.

The customer, the cashier and his boss had heard what they expected, and probably knew deep down. They heard him call her a bitch, when he really called her a Bad Seed.

After some lecturing about the customer always being right, the matter was put to rest. In my heart, I knew who the Bad Seed was, though. I think Walker's boss did too.

I hope I'm not a Bad Seed too often. I hope people hear what I really mean to say, and not what they think I say.