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.

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