Dear God, show me truth. Show me your will and direction for my life. God, please grant me the power to carry it out rather than the constant worry and striving to make it happen on my own. For my daughter; grant a deep and abiding knowledge of who you are-and are meant to be- for her. Grant that she be always a fulfilled and loved woman, peaceful and wise at heart whether single or in a relationship. For my son; I ask that you grant him an awareness and revelation of truth: who YOU are, God of the Universe, and who he is to be. Give to my son power and strength and wisdom and boldness in the things of the true and living God. For the one estranged, who, because of his raging and insults has become my enemy, I pray for the higher good to master him. I pray he would have truth and beauty and self-awareness. For my grown and settled children, I pray that you would continue to knit them together in a strong cord of love and ethics. Bring out the best in them. You have given each of them marvelous strengths. Burst on them at every turn in beauty, truth, joy, the energy of life and love. And for my friends, my listening ears; I pray your protection on them, that my “viruses” would not attach to their “systems”, but that they would remain whole, beautiful, joyous, successful, and wise. May it be.
At the top of the fourth he turned to me and said, “I am really enjoying my father’s day present.” I was too. Its been 30 years or so since the last time I baked in the sun or got damp and chilled in the rain at a JUCO game. In the space of 3 hours, we did both today- despite being well armed with umbrellas.
We found seats directly above home plate and were free to form our own opinions about the accuracy of the umpire and the strengths and weaknesses of the teams. By the top of the fourth the pace of the game was starting to pick up. He had already had 3 little naps in the stadium seat. I found out that he played baseball in high school. I remember when he coached our small town equivalent of little league summer after summer. I have known all my life that he was a starter on the high school basketball team, but I had never heard about high school baseball.
During the slow beginning innings where the pitcher merely threw strikes and there was little action in the field, I tried to beguile him with conversation, tell him about my seventh grade students who argued just this past week that you can catch a fly with an outstretched baseball cap because it is still attached (all this because I asked them not to be playing baseball in literacy class with detached player equipment- as in, water bottle and pea gravel). I took the counter position that the cap extends further from the hand than the distance allowed in the fingers of a glove. He did not take the bait, just nodded and said, “Ummm.” Sometime next week he will probably tender his final position on the subject – after he has consulted the online rulebook.
Admittedly, there was more purpose to my invitation than just an early Father’s Day gift (I told him it would take a load off my mind if he would go to the game with me, because then I wouldn’t have to worry about what to get him for Father’s Day). Always the hard worker, my 75 year old dad has been working non-stop the past couple of weeks and exhausting the middle-aged men hired to help. It was truly time for a holiday. Baseball fit the bill.
After six innings of reflection I have concluded that baseball is a lot like life. You spend months and years in training and a good deal of time nonchalantly standing around waiting; as a spectator getting a trifle bored, but you have to keep your head in the game, tensed, alert, and ready at a moment’s notice to make the all important double play-that makes your day or defines your life.
We have nothing to fear but fear itself! So speak the great American leaders. Being of the plebeian variety, my motivating thought has all too often been: I have nothing to fear but embarrassment.
Just as one never attempts the possible in order to avoid failure; I avoid embarrassment at all costs. I plan, I plot, I educate myself. I think things through, I consider the logical conclusions of my actions. I do my laundry, press my clothes, maintain a regular sleep and grooming schedule; all toward the goal of “having it all together.”
It is important to me to do the right thing. Lately I began to question my motives. Am I doing the right thing out of a noble, altruistic heart? Or am I constantly doing the right thing in order to show others how it ought to be done? To prove that I have it altogether? To avoid, through super human effort, mistakes; or, heaven forbid; embarrassment.
I had a wonderful time Wednesday night. Philip and I took an impromptu mother / son night out and viewed Star Trek. After the screening, I hit the ladies room (as is my custom); we struck a fast pace toward the car, all the while in conversation and critique of the movie. The gas gage pegged at empty so I decided to fill up on the way home rather than chance a late arrival at work the next day.
We found an after-nine, discount gas station and commenced the filling and window washing. From the shadows near the air compressor I heard a male voice call, “Miss.” I ignored him. Coming a bit closer, he hailed me again, “Miss, excuse me, Miss,” From the corner of my eye I saw a young man in his twenties, with garish henna hair and sideburns stepping toward me. Was he going to ask me for money? Directions? Quickly I looked to see where Philip was. In the car, talking on his cell phone. “I hope he is paying attention to what is going on out here!” I thought as I looked up. “Oh, Miss, there is something about to fall out of your pocket!”
(My pocket? Do I have pockets? If I reach for my back pockets that draws my attention and effectively ties up my arms. And this guy is approaching me. Where is his friend?)
Keeping my eyes on him, I reached behind with my left arm, my strong right arm at the ready. Nothing. Then I reached behind with my right arm, my left hand free, and grasped it – the 18 inch strip of toilet paper- as my informant faded back into the shadows and was gone.
I am now recovered from my laughter – and my false assurance of having it all together.
He left this morning in his own car; purchased with money he earned going to a job when he would rather be running with friends or creating music and video on the laptop he purchased with money earned at the same job. It is a creative job and he is lucky to have it, you know. This morning he chose his own clothes, declining last evening to let me wash and press the traditional dress slacks. Last month he was awarded an academic letter for grades that have steadily improved as he ascended the incline toward graduation – steadily improved but for one bout with senioritis which produced a cough in am otherwise fun subject. He has had two girlfriends this year – the beautiful altruistic one mama likes and the sultry cosmopolitan one-and some anonymous females nominated him for prom attendant. This morning he walks across the stage to receive that all important high school diploma, but he has already been around the world and enjoyed music and performance success with greater ease than his predecessors.
Congratulations, Philip, you are a fine young man of character; you will do well in whatever you put your mind and hand to.
Happy Mother’s Day to me. I am of all women, most blessed. I like my three grown (nearly grown) children. I like who they are. It is fun to be with them. They are people of character and responsibility or budding responsibility; creative, witty, sensitive, thoughtful, articulate. I am looking forward to spending time with them this Mother’s Day; and with my 3.4 grandchildren.
Did they choose the career path I would have chosen for them? Who can say? I was not foolish enough to decide who they were to become or to micromanage. I did know from the day they were born what they were: they were treasures. That is what they remain to me to this very day – TREASURES.
I have spent half a century trying to please people; how about you? Yes?
Well, as they say, “You can please some of the people all the time and some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all the people all the time.” But, hey, it never hurts to try, right? Maybe I will be the first one to be perfect, get it right all the time, please everybody and the whole world will love me-rise up and call me blessed.
I don’t think there is a thing wrong with pleasing people, with living peaceably with everyone. I do take issue with peace at any cost – or with pleasing others to manipulate the outcome. At sometime in your life someone has probably said indignantly, “After all I’ve done for you, how could you……” The words are designed to heap guilt, to convict the hearer to change his ways. If the recipient has stolen, embezzled, cheated or betrayed, perhaps a parent or spouse does have a right to utter this accusation. But, usually, I think what the offended one means is, “After all I’ve done for you how could you not do what I wanted you to do?” This is the type of thing Handel’s father spat when George F. decided to be a musician and composer rather than a barber. When parents say this they often mean, “After all I’ve done for you how could you possibly think of being yourself instead of the person I wanted you to be?”
Recently I was accosted by an acquaintance whose basic communication was, “You are the meanest person in the world! I knocked myself out for you! I did lots of things for you, whatever I thought was right for you, whether you asked or wanted it or not and now I am angry with you because you did not respond the way I wanted you to respond and do what I wanted you to do. You didn’t do the job the way I would have done it. You are not the gregarious personality I wanted you to be. You’re not even trying to be the person I wanted to help you become. I have piped and you have not danced.” Funny thing, I didn’t even hear the piper. I was too busy marching to the steady beat of a different drum. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?