Are you healthy? Is your family? Do you know what healthy really means?
I wish I had appreciated the health our family has lost. My son used to be an excellent athlete whose biggest worry was whether his uniform and water jug were clean. My daughter used to be a dancer whose toughest decision was whether to take jazz or hip hop. I used to enjoy the American dream of a husband, 2 kids and a house in the suburbs. All this was before my neurological differences caught up with me. Before my daughter developed crippling anxiety. Before my son was attacked by his own immune system.
Now we see healthy as a day when he doesn’t need pain medicine to get moving. When she can go to school without a panic attack. When I can talk myself into going to work, then stay focused enough to get there. Healthy is a week when I spend more time at work than in a doctor’s office.
To some, poor health might be having a sore throat for several days, spraining an ankle, getting the flu, or being fatigued from too many short nights. I don’t want to minimize those challenges, especially if you aren’t used to anything less than perfect health. If the worst you know is a broken leg, then a broken leg is pretty serious. I wish the worst I knew was a broken leg.
Whatever your circumstance, take the time to appreciate the abilities you do have. I am grateful that we function as well as we do. That we have proper medical care. That we have insurance to pay for necessary medications. That I have friends and family I can count on. I know it could be much worse, and I thank God it isn’t.
A lot of my friends and family know that a family in my neighborhood had a house fire Monday night. OK, technically it was eeeeaaarly Tuesday morning. But I hadn’t slept yet, so it was still Monday.
We are friends with this family. We go to the same church, our kids are friends, and we see each other sometimes at community events. We know each other well enough to trust each other with our kids, so naturally they knocked on our door at 1:00 in their pajamas. (Don’t your friends do that?) Little brother was actually wearing just his Spiderman undies, carrying his blanket. The kids ended up spending the night with us, and I was glad to do it. This family didn’t know what condition their home would be in, the least I could do was take in the kids. Fortunately the damage was minimal and should be repairable.
Growing up my biggest fear was a house fire. Maybe because of the stupid movies they always played during fire prevention week. Apparently they were designed to scare you into making an escape plan and other preparations. This was before too many people had smoke detectors. Monday was the closest I have actually come to a house fire, and it was close enough. Even after taking a shower and changing clothes, I still smelled like smoke on Tuesday. It’s no surprise the firefighters told my friend that simply washing their clothes wouldn’t get out the smell.
When you are in crisis mode, most people don’t do a lot of deep philosophical meditation, so it wasn’t until Tuesday that I stopped to think about how God laid things in place well before Monday. My kids are teenagers, but we happened to have a pint-sized tshirt in our “give away” area so Little Brother had something besides Spidey to wear. Not that it bothered him. We had considered moving over the summer, but didn’t. This meant we were close enough that mom didn’t have to worry about the kids. My son and I were both having trouble going to sleep, so we heard the knock on the door. My kids only attend school in the afternoons, so getting to bed a 3 am wasn’t a big problem. Our kids all knew each other, so Little Brother hardly knew anything was wrong. A few more examples came to mind, but my memory has a slow leak, so they are long gone.
I asked my friend what they need, and she didn’t know yet. I’ve been there, and it seems like I always think of something a half hour later. Fortunately she has lots of people willing and eager to help when she figures it out. And me? I’m thankful nobody was hurt and the damage wasn’t worse. And that most of the 2-3 dozen firemen were standing around with nothing to do.
Some of you immediately recognize the reference in my intro page. Others are scratching your heads. I get it. I don’t understand every cultural reference someone throws my way. But it seems I am the master of obscure connections. Sometimes I feel like Freddy Mercury when he combined John Wayne, Star Wars, politics and illegal drugs in the same song. Except that when he wrote those lyrics they somehow made sense.
I’m not so eloquent. Every day I say something that, in my mind, makes perfect sense, but falls flat when it comes out of my mouth. My poor daughter can only shake her head and laugh when we are talking about what to have for supper and suddenly I’m commenting on the song my brother sang from the basement of the house we lived in when I was in 4th grade.
If I am ever having a conversation with you and I say something that seems to come from left field, just smile and remember that is one of my quirks and why I’m so adorable.
Oh, and a song in Les Miserables, ends with Jean Valjean singing, “Who am I? 24601!”
I hear people talk about tolerance all the time. We should be tolerant of differences. We should tolerate other races, religions, body types, abilities, lifestyles, etc. Well I don’t want to tolerate these things. I want to embrace them. These differences are what make us unique. Interesting. Human.
Do I wish everyone believed in Christ? Of course. But if they don’t I love them anyway. Do I wish people treated all races equally? Absolutely. I was raised colorblind and wish the world could operate under that paradigm. Do I think others should be accepted even if we don’t share or agree with their lifestyle choices? Yes. In spite of my feelings about their choices, it is not my place to judge. I am called to show them God’s love. I wish the things that divided us were not things that cause so much hatred and fear. I wish our worst arguments were about which baseball team was the best, or whether we liked the ending of a certain movie, or who should have won The Voice.
I have to admit, though, there are some things I cannot tolerate. I also must confess I used to do some of those things. Things like racism. Bigotry. Hatred of someone you don’t understand. Judgment of choices that don’t align with your beliefs. Condemnation of someone whose struggle isn’t apparent at first glance. Pushing your agenda on someone else. I try not to do these things and ask if you see me doing them, call me out on it. Preferably privately and tactfully.
I know I have a certain naïveté that others may not like. Some may think I am too trusting, or unaware of the struggles of those who don’t share my privilege. That’s ok. I probably have struggles they aren’t aware of. That doesn’t mean we automatically have to take sides. I am not “for” or “against” any group of people just because they belong to that group. Ok, maybe there are one or two groups that I hate what they stand for. But I don’t hate someone for who they are, especially if it is not something they can help. And that’s all I ask of others. Accept me for the creative, impulsive, melancholy, socially challenged, single mother and sports fan that I am. No judgment, no hatred. Hugs optional.
My daughter just got back from getting the oil changed in my car. My 16 year old daughter. She told me about a young man who struck up a conversation with her. He started with her Texas Rangers shirt, eventually asking where she attends college. Did I mention she is 16?
She is quite a beauty. Inside and out. After what she has endured in her short life I’m not surprised. Her parents divorced, her brother has a chronic illness, she has anxiety, her mother (that would be me) and brother have ADHD and she lost 2 of her grandparents in a couple years time. She is hypersensitive and hypermobile. Translation: she can taste medicine that is supposed to be covered with flavoring and has super loose joints. Her sense of smell is also very acute. I feel sorry for her if she ever gets pregnant and has to walk near the meat section of a grocery store.
For now I will enjoy having her at home, still volunteering to run my errands. I know that all too soon the college question will have an answer.
My baby girl
Almost 18, working and going to school, driving, shaving and girl watching. Video games when he has time, doctor appointments more often than a kid should have to endure. My son is one of the strongest people I know. He lives with chronic pain and never complains. We only know he is hurting when he asks for help, then we know it is bad. He is compassionate, follows his convictions and gives of himself when he can. Making friends easily, showing respect, and watching out for his younger sister, he is an inspiration to anyone that gets to know him. Now if we could just get him to quit bothering the cat…
Not a recent photo