Lesson #50232 from the Hospital


Who you were as a child isn’t all that different from who you are as an adult.  I’m seeing it in so many ways.  Today, I found a few more.
When I was younger, I used to love going to Grandma’s for a weekend, week, couple of weeks.  We played Crow’s Foot (dominoes), aggravation, Old Maid, Go Fish, and the piano.  We walked to Bashas to get milk or some other staple, and then maybe around the block for some extra exercise.  At home, she’d reheat beans, cornbread, and chicken.  She always had great food.  However, one thing I never grew out of– coloring.  Within a few hours of arriving, I’d grab my purse, walk down the street, past the Christian Emporium, to 7th Avenue.  I’d cross Osborn, dream about what a magical place the China Doll must be, and then mosey on over to Skaggs.  Skaggs was its own wonderful place for me.  Most kids don’t really get excited about a basic drug store, but I loved it.  There was a nice aisle of office supplies.  I always had a weak spot for office supplies.  There was also a small section of school type supplies and coloring books.  That was what I went for.  I’d grab a box of 64 crayons, and pick out a new coloring book.  Why am I remembering the Mother Goose one right now?  Then, I’d go back to Grandma’s and sit at her kitchen table.  I’d color.  I didn’t color much at home, but I always colored at Grandma’s.  LOVED it.  I usually managed to fill the book.  It was relaxing, soothing.
Guess what I did today?  After sitting in an uncomfortable chair for several days, today I decided I needed something else.  So, at lunchtime, I moseyed on over to Michael’s.  I’d already purchased a couple of stamps, but I bought a couple more.  I also bought a Versafine stamp pad and a package of pre-cut card stock.  Then came the big decision.  Watercolor pencils or regular.  I own a huge set of regular.  I went for watercolor.  Then, on the way out, I saw the Martha Stewart ones I started with a year or so ago.  So, I bought them.  Figured I could give them to Challice.  Back at the hospital, I stamped up some images and started coloring.  It’s amazing how old habits die hard.
It got me thinking.  You know, when I was a kid, it was easy to think of how much worse things could be.  I’d get in trouble for something I didn’t do and think, “Yeah, well, you could get in trouble for something you did do.  That’d be worse.  At least you know you didn’t do anything wrong.”  Old habits die hard, don’t they?  Monday, I realized that as hard as it was to see my husband hurting, he could be dying.
And, you know, as a kid, I rarely if ever stepped out of my comfort zone.  I moved– often.  It hardens you a little.  It’s difficult to risk opening yourself up to someone when you don’t expect to be there for long– despite your hope that THIS time you’ll stay.  Maybe this time.  When someone made overtures to me, I accepted and embraced them.  I was a loyal friend for as long as someone wanted to be my friend.  If that changed, I was ok with it.  After all, I might be going.  It made me realize something I missed last night with my friend “Joey.”  Had he turned to me, had he shown any sign of reaching out even in the slightest– met my eyes or winced (who could really smile at a time like that), I would have said something.  I would have asked if he was ok.  I would have been the encouraging person I know I can be but rarely am.  You see, I’m still that same little girl under this much bigger (oh, yes, MUCH bigger) exterior.
My husband has been grateful for me being there all this time (like where else would I be???).  No more than a couple of hours pass without him saying so.  He’s always been appreciative that way.  Today, he gave me an unusual compliment.  He said, “You’re good at sitting.”  I laughed.  Actually, I howled.  It was like the compliment I got in the eighth grade.  Kathleen Lunde wrote in my autograph book, “The thing  I like about you is how you’re always the same.”  To my thirteen year old heart, it was like saying, “I just love how boring you are.”  Mom showed me the compliment it truly was, but it still felt a bit… um… weak.  Today’s compliment felt like that.  “You’re really good at doing nothing.”
Of course, that’s not what he meant.  He added to that statement, “You’re good at just being here with me.  You don’t get impatient, you’re always upbeat, you don’t look bored or miserable.”  Yeah.  that.  I’m not thrilling, but apparently, I know how to let someone know that I care without doing or saying much.   Come to think of it, I was that way when I was a kid.  I was best at that kind of comfort.
Isn’t it interesting?  We don’t always change that much, do we?  Today, I’m ok with that.

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