Unknowingly, you start on a journey. You do not know that the opportunity for this journey will never repeat. You do not know that the minutiae’ means everything and nothing. It is a journey to find something that you had wished for: to know and be known. However, you did not know that this was that journey. Some days you sit and wonder how you were assigned this duty. How did this happen? Who forgot to teach life’s lessons? Do you remember how to teach them in a kinder, gentler, way than the first time around? You wonder if you will survive and if you will indeed make a difference.
The lessons to be taught: How do you wash clothes? Separate whites from dark. How much detergent; softener? How long in the dryer? Where to place the dryer settings? The small things…dishes go into the dishwasher; not the sink. Cloth napkins are actually used to wipe your hands and mouth; not pinching up one corner between two fingers…
Watching chocolate chip cookies being made, the spatter on every item close by as well as the kitchen window.
Seeing the joy of having made these cookies from scratch and having them taste good. Making them with earphones and the computer in front of you; wanting to learn how to make a pie.
Cooking on a stove that has not been used for years because the other one does not know how to cook or makes that statement whether true or not. Perhaps all the joy of cooking left with the children; or never came back after not having a “significant other” to cook for when the children were more significant than the “other” could ever be in this life.
Picking up clothes from the floor; Making the bed; Were these things important? Or is it what society expects?
Is too much time spent on things that do not matter 5 years from now?
The opportunities missed; the opportunities observed; the opportunities lost.
Leaf blowing because fifty minutes of time was spent worrying that something had happened not knowing where they might be and it is dark and you are responsible. Punishment of a sort?
Drawing directions to Redstone complex where running for a mile and classes are held and wondering if you left out something important in your directions along the way and the way is lost to this stranger in this city.
Watching XBox and wondering how this game can be so addictive. Always watching. Words have not been spoken. There are no names but then what is important? The lessons or the name?
Decorating a Christmas tree for the first and the last time. Placing ornaments he had given through the years; never seeing them on the tree; never realizing they were kept and treasured. Placing a small tree in his room and one in his bathroom. Had he ever had a tree before in these two places? I did not know. Giving the stories of other ornaments made by others in the family: his dad, his aunt; his great-grandmother and his great-aunt: friends. An experience captured in the mind’s eye for cameras are avoided so his privacy was respected. I will have to remember without having photos.
The time is finished. The opportunity is over. The lessons learned. These days are now gone.
In years to come, I wonder if he will tell his children about the grandmother who could or would not cook; who would tell him to wash his hands and use his napkin. That would chew him up one side and spit him out the other because his attitude needed changing; disrespect and insolence were showing not only toward me but also toward his parents.
I wonder when the day will arrive that he will take responsibility for his behavior? Will he remember any good days here? or were they all days to get through?
Did he choose to come? or was he sent? I have heard them say: “Linda did a good job with him.” Perhaps what they mean is that he has changed and to change one must want to change; one must care; and one must work toward becoming.
He is a proud young man. Stubborn, charming, willful, smart. He will learn. Life can be difficult or hard. The choices are not always ours but there are many that we can control. He was a good worker at his job; he was on time; he is clean-cut and now, by his choice, he will serve his country. He will learn; he will survive.
The Army will teach him many lessons. Perhaps his time here was a transition time for him. Perhaps it was a time for me to learn that all things cannot be perfect. A perfect house is one not lived in. I wish I had learned that lesson fifty years ago.
We have learned; survived each other and grown through the experience.