Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Don't Blink, You're Next

I can remember as far back as being a teenager, staying the summer with my MaMa, and being in a grocery store and the bag boy (that's what they were called then, I have NO idea what they are called now) being less polite and respectful than what I thought he should be when speaking to my MaMa. She was already showing small signs of feebleness, not quite as alert, and I remember thinking the kid was rude and could have been more patient with her.

A few years later, the setting is once again in a grocery store, this time I was just out of high school and working in one myself, as a cashier, and one of the bag boys (they were still called that) was less than what I thought he should be to an elderly lady.

My grandmother died at the very young age of seventy two and I was just twenty four myself. I carry memories both good and bad, around with me for a very long time. And as the episode with my own grandmother had only been about six years prior, it was the first flash of memory I had when the bag boy standing behind me acted like it was a bother for him to carry out the one bag the elderly lady whom I had just rang up her groceries, to her vehicle for her.

I remember not saying a word. It was a slow morning, so I signed off/locked down my register, took the bag and walked the lady to her car myself. The little old lady chitter chattered all the way through the parking lot and continued even after I loaded her one little bag of groceries into her car. She was obviously starved for conversation and a kind face and I tried to give her both.

Today as I sat in my doctor's office, waiting for the second time in less than three weeks to have my eyes checked, I began to take in my surroundings. The only people/patients in the building when I first arrived was me and a lady who looked to be close to eighty years old. She walked slow, but fairly sure, just a tiny small limp.

My eyes had already been examined and I was sitting in another room waiting on the doctor when I heard the doctor's assistant begin to perform the little old lady's examine. There were no doors shut to any of these rooms so I could hear every single word that was said to the other patient.

Now, while the assistant was not mean, rude or disrespectful in her examination, she did seem just a might bit more stern than necessary. Whatever it was she was trying to do required the old lady to remain very still and to not blink. Now personally, I think blinking works just like scratching. The only time you have to itch is when you can't scratch.

So the assistant is loudly (for hearing purposes I am assuming) and firmly telling the old woman she can not blink, to stop, stop, stop, stop blinking. Seriously? And the sweet elderly lady in her high pitch scratchy voice, that by now sounded like it had a slight tremble said, "This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do, I promise I am trying as hard as I can not to blink". The doctor's assistant said "I know, but you're going to have to try harder or we can't do this test, now think hard, and don't blink".

As I sat there, this all came full circle for me. I'll be forty nine years old in a few days. And while I am always very sensitive about elderly people, their feelings, and how they are treated, I do admit, that in the last few years, my sensitivity level has risen just a smidge. I wanted to go into the next room, take that elderly lady's hand, hold it and make conversation about something far, far away, so that she could quit trying to think about NOT blinking, and then she probably wouldn't blink so much.

There by the grace of God and all of those things that people say, go I. I'm not eighty years old, but I hope I see it one day. I don't have severe cataracts now, but I might one day, and it might be hard for me to not blink when they're trying to test my eyes. I can carry one bag of groceries to my car now, one day it might be heavier than I ever dreamed it could be.

I want to say to everyone young and old, the people who are always in such a hurry to be somewhere else, doing something else, to care about what is happening right now. Slow down. Stop for a minute and just breathe. Look around you and see who needs a kind word. A helping hand. Or just a smile. You know I tell all of you all the time, you should never stop learning. You should never stop growing. Well, I grew up a little more today. I want to be a better person, better friend for the rest of the time I have in my forty eight years of this life. And even more importantly, I want to live my forty ninth year of  life on this earth, learning and growing enough to make myself even more prepared to live my 50th. If I can do these things with success, then indeed, it will be a Happy Day of Birth for me.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Battle Scars And War Stories

I had originally thought last night was going to be another cry fest. I mean, I had already cried all week long for one reason or another, at the drop of a hat it seemed. Earlier in the week I attended a Volley Ball game and cried like an absolute baby. Now granted, it was a special night, it was the Volley For A Cure fundraiser night, combined with Senior Night for the Senior volley ball girls. But to sit there and bawl when I didn't even have a "dog in the fight" so to speak, was just crazy. Wasn't it? I mean from the time they called the first girls name out loud, I was done. Digging for the tissue I prayed I had the foresight to put in my purse. Heck even after the last introduction and the National Anthem began, I couldn't even sing. I had tears just absolutely streaming down my face like a waterfall. So to say I was a might bit worried about my behavior for my own child's Senior Night is an understatement to say the least.

But sometimes, fate has a way of stepping in, right when you need it. Last night we arrived at the game, everybody in tow, including my son Josh and his partner Josh, and my parents. The gang's all here. We're checking in at the gate, and all of a sudden people are calling my name, telling me don't look, hovering behind as if to block my view, and I'm thinking, what in the world is going on?! Susie Morris is telling me it will be alright, but again, don't look. Now MY people are craning their necks to see what all the ruckus is about and I'm watching their faces as one by one the expressions begin to change. I slowly turn around and am trying to focus my eyes, find #55, and all I can see is a sea of red.

But then I see one. I see one of his partners. And I know, at that very second, what to prepare myself for...as I try to keep my breathing patterns regulated, I turn my head from one side to the other and as my eyes land and rest, like an Eagle to it's nest, my heart beats a little bit faster, and I just smile.

Earlier in the week he told me he needed a haircut. Then he re-phrased it and said he needed a hair CUT with a little more emphasis. Now I usually pride myself on being being pretty sharp intuitively, but I have to admit, this one got past me. Never saw it coming. I of course thought he meant the second time, that he wanted it cut really close, which I cannot stand, but said I would allow it AFTER Senior Night pictures were taken. Now that I look back, I should have realized there was a reason I got no arguing, balking, or use of his magical persistent persuasion powers. He seemed to take my answer at face value and just quit talking about it.

Well, you all know, just because someone doesn't say anything, doesn't mean they are acknowledging or listening. As I looked up and made face to face contact with my son last night, I saw the meanest, baddest, and most fierce Mohawk I had ever laid my eyes on. And the new "do" was complete with black war paint to boot. It's not like he hasn't done this before. And it's not like he hasn't done it without permission. But somehow tonight's timing seem to be just right. Sometime between the minute I got out of our vehicle and the emotion seemed to already be swallowing me whole, until that second I saw his head, something inside me changed. The range of emotions did a complete 360 degree turn around and all that raw blood running through my veins gained a little strength. I knew I was going to be alright.

Just that quick, Zach and those four boys showed me what that night was all about. It wasn't about crying, or feeling sad, or silently wishing the years to run backwards. It was about manhood, the last time, battle of the strengths and minds, it was about THEIR time. And making it as memorable for themselves as they possibly knew how.

When they walked out of that cold steam and into the lights of Friday Night, arm in arm, linked as brothers and teammates,  forever united they would stand, and fight to the bitter end for themselves, for each other and for their teammates. Thirteen years of brotherhood walked out onto that field, and thirteen years of brotherhood saw it through until the last crash of the helmet would leave a resounding echo through the night.

In the end, he would stand before his men and give the speech that has been groomed in his mind for the last thirteen years. A rendition of long ago, speeches past, from men just like him, almost at the end of their journey. He would stand tall, speak clearly, and address the battle scars of the night, the loss they must carry with them, and the pride that should remain in a battle well fought. Fought with heart, determination and courage. Courage to continue going when nothing is working right. The courage to keep going when you're tired and beat down. And the courage to know, you gave it everything you had, and left nothing to spare. Left no cleat unturned and the field soaked with the sweat and soul of the determination that was performed there.

That is what true manhood is all about. Nothing left to spare. That's what these young men showed all of us last night. That win or lose they will never lie down. They will never quit. They will never stop.
They will never ever give in. Because they are Warriors. They are the Winners in this thing we call life that started with eleven men and a football. This game of football holds the secrets of real life in the palm of it's hands. It teaches solidarity, trust, teamwork, pride, and united we stand, divided we fall. These are lessons they will all carry with them forever along with a brotherhood of secrets that only a player can ever understand. The keys are theirs to hold, to be coveted, to be protected, until the end of time. Without fail. Because THEY ARE...MUNROE.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

♫ Wheels On The Bike Go Round And Round ♫

There are some people who just have no business operating machinery. Whether it's the sense of balance that is missing, the naturalness that should come with sitting on a seat that was never intended to cover your undercarriage, or that ones particular foot and brain motion are not in-sync and never will be. There are just some people who were never meant to ride a bicycle. I am one of those people.

Now the first thing you must not do, please do not confuse my self-proclaimed admission that I should not ride a bicycle with the fact that I never owned one. I have in fact, owned several bicycles in my life time. Some of those bicycles I rode successfully, some not. I had regular bicycles, 3 speed bicycles, and the last one being a 10 speed bicycle. Crazily enough, I did just fine riding all the bicycles I owned. It was when I would venture out, experiment, or just borrow someone elses bicycle that the troubles would start.

To set the scene, the year is 1970.  I am seven years old and I am bored out of my mind. My parents are having a business party at our apartment. Complete with wide lapel jackets, bell bottom jeans, big flowing blouses, beehive bouffant hairdo's plied with plenty of hairspray, thick mustaches and widespread sideburns.  Cigarette smoke clouds the air and red Solo cups are in most every hand you pass.

We were new to town and my parents had the party to get to know all the new people that would be working for my Dad. We were living in those apartments until our home all the way across town was built upon completion. We had not lived there very long, but I too, had already met new friends. However on this particular Saturday night, all my friends were out of town. I had no one to play with. As I said, I was bored, so I set about finding me something to do.

One of the best things about these apartments is that part of them sat way high up on a hill. Ours did anyway. And one of the major past times was when new neighbors would move in, the kids would pull their moving boxes back out of the dumpsters, cut them up, make "sleds" out of them and slide like a bullet down our hill. We lived on the top of the hill, and way down on the other side of the "valley" was another set of apartments.

Anyway, no one was moving in, there were no boxes to be had. But...I did have a friend who said I could ride her bike while she was out of town. Now MY bike was just a regular two wheel bike with brakes at the feet on the pedals. Matter of fact, I had not even been riding a bike for any major length of time. But I had mastered mine pretty well. However, my bike was boring. Her's was bigger and cooler. So after it I went.

I drag it out of the cubby under the stairwell and roll it out back. I get at the top of the hill, ready for the speedy, fun ride down. I climb on, get my feet settled, or I try to, I'm not quite tall enough but I think once I get on, I can stretch my legs and it will work. I sling my leg over the bar, teetering as I try and balance on my tip toes, then jump up on the seat and push off.

Now I don't really know just how deep that hill was, because when you're young, everything is larger than life. It could have really been as big a drop as Niagara Falls, or it could have been a small sand hill. But in MY memory, it was a cliff, and I had just jumped off of it on a bike. That bike took off like it had an engine attached to it, down I went, all but free-falling on two wheels. I was trying to stretch my legs to get my feet to the pedals to brake, and I was mashing as hard as I could, but it wasn't stopping. Then I remembered. Those "extra" things on the handles, my friend did something with those when she would stop. I think.

Meanwhile it's summer time, and people are outside everywhere. Grilling, playing with their kids, sitting in lawn chairs, visiting and talking. And I'm still flying at super sonic speed. Down that hill. Headed straight for all those people. The ones grilling and sitting chairs. I can't mash the metal clamps on the handles hard enough to get them to do anything. I'm still flying. My long hair flying, my skinny legs flailing around because finding the pedals that don't work has been forgotten. The scene before me is startling. And to clarify, for those of you who are reading that one sentence, over and over again, yes, I had skinny legs. I was seven for gosh sakes...

Lawn chairs are flying, people are running, grills are being snatched up and rolled out of the way, strollers are being pushed fast and hard and I can hear a lady in the background, screaming, "She's not going to stop, oh my gosh, I don't think she's going to stop!".

Oh I stopped alright. Me and the bike. The bricks on the side of that apartment building took care of all that. I slammed face first straight into the side of that building. I'm lying on the ground, people are standing all around me, looking down at me. I hear talk of a bloody nose and lip, who does she belong to, where does she live? I must not have been unconscious. I must have been able to tell them. Because I find myself being escorted back up the hill to our apartment. The nice strangers knock on our sliding glass door, my Daddy answers, and it's on. All he sees is the blood, the mangled bike, strange people all talking at once about his little girl who crashed into the wall, and our living room full of people whose party has come to a complete standstill.

I didn't ride a bike for a long time after that. Matter of fact, I was about 11 years old. I was staying with my babysitter at her house. I wrecked it too. Again, it wasn't my bike.  And now I have  a very large kidney shaped scar on my left knee to prove it. I just have no business on a bicycle. Never have. Never will. I just imagine I'm the type of gal who will always require four wheels instead of just two. For my safety, for your safety, and for the sake of anyone else who is around, safety.Why they waited until I was grown to create those great little helmets I will never know. Granted one of those helmets wouldn't have helped my nose, lip or knee, but a full frontal face mask would have been too scary.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

You Can't Beat Me....Yet (wink wink)

I must be one of the most predictable people in the world. Surely, everyone that knows me does not already have me figured out. There is just no way, that I am an open book and you don't even have to turn the page to know the rest of my story. Is my plot really that wide open? Have I finally reached that time in my life when I have no surprises left? It surely seems that way sometimes. Just when I think I have the upper hand lately, somebody goes and pulls the rug out from under me. And there I stand, with the joke, all on me.

As I am on my way to the restroom at work yesterday, I round the corner and see this very hot, very sleek, woman. Just standing there, staring at me. Almost daring me to rebuke her sexiness. Her right to stand there. I stopped dead in my tracks and just stood there and stared at her. I quietly let my thoughts process what I was looking at, but I knew, who was at the root of this grand design of humor.  She cannot ruffle me. She can not intimidate me. Hot Mama or not.  She has to go.

I stepped firmly into the doorway, reached over, and snatched her up and carried her straight into the Engineering Dept. The very department whom I know is responsible for having her stand right where they knew I would see her. Right where they knew I couldn't miss her if I tried. No matter how quiet she was, I would know, she was there.

Once I reached my destination, where I knew everyone could see me and hear me, I put her back down. I placed my hands on top of her shoulders, peered around her head, and asked them all, as they stared back at me, just whose bright idea was it to put this half naked, skinny behind woman right in my line of sight before I entered the restroom. I told them all no fat behind woman likes to see the sight of anything as the likes of her right before they go in to take care of their business.

The entire room HOWLED with laughter.  Including myself. They were all talking at once, saying they wondered just how long it would be before I found her. Before I saw her. Before I exploded over the sight of her so obvious prettiness. They said they wondered how long she would have to stand there before I knew. Before I would make the very same grand entrance with her practically thrown over my shoulder, as I had just done.  For two hours, several of the females were pacing, waiting for me to make my entrance, knowing I would eat those guys alive!

So this is the day that I knew. This is the day that I realize I am no longer a secret to be held. I am no longer a closed box whose contents are a mystery. I am simply an old lady who still isn't comfortable enough with herself, or her age, to want to look at such obvious beauty before I enter a closed up room with a mirror that is far too honest. But I am also the old lady that has been around the block a lot more than most of those young whipper snappers I work with every day...and I would get them back..all of them.

But I just want you to know, Princess Leia, that you cannot intimidate me. I'll admit, you almost had me. You and all your "friends" almost took me down. But I'm strong. I will not accept defeat. I will not stop until I have figured out how to win the battle. That is exactly why, for the rest of the afternoon, I plopped your sexy behind right where you belong. In the mens' bathroom, right next to the urinal. And I laughed and laughed for the rest of the day, wondering just how many of those men were too shy to pull their pants down and take care of their OWN business. Cardboard cut out or not...I know they thought twice every time they went to touch their zippers as you stared them down.  GOTCHA!