It was a very good thing to have a place to go that morning. The presidential election had robbed me of sleep but I didn’t want to keep looking at the blood bath on social media. Besides, I wanted to see if the real world was still out there. According to news reports, life was over as we’d known it.
It was mostly sunny when I left, the farmer up the road still had that one field of pumpkins to process and the line at Dutch Bros drive-thru looked normal. I was happy to discover my phone GPS was still able to get me to a place I’d never been before. Indeed, cyberspace was still functioning.
For the last five years I’ve said “no thanks” to the annual invitation to the luncheon hosted by the Family Caregiver Support Program. My free time is limited and since I’m not a small-talk-luncheon-y type anyway, it just didn’t appeal to me. This time I meant to say no, but yes came out instead. I don’t know why. But I’m glad.
It turned out there was nothing “small-talk” about the day. There were representatives from support agencies with great information. I re-connected with people I’d met when my mother-in-law was in hospice. And there were a lot of people just like me… people who are trying their best to take care of a family member at home.
And best of all, not a word was spoken of the Donald/Hillary show. Well, there was one ugly word. By a haggard looking man sitting at my table. We paid it no mind however, as his day started hard. He’d already had a face to face with a police officer called by a “concerned” neighbor when she saw his Alzheimer patient wife running down the street in her nightgown and assumed she was neglected… all because he dared take a few minutes to jump in the shower before help arrived so he could take a couple of hours off to get more help.
Yep, the real world is still out there. But it doesn’t always work as well as the GPS on my phone.
This week I got to thinking about my life span in relation to our presidents.
When I was born Harry Truman was in office. From Harry to Barack there have been twelve presidents.
From the time I was legal to vote there have been eight presidents. My vote assisted in electing only two of those eight. Two!
Somehow, I’ve managed to survive all these years with only two presidents that I really, really liked… and during the times of the other six, never once did I feel the need to block a major highway or destroy property.
Watching Martha Raddatz wimper on election night was a little nauseating. So worried she was for the mothers who are scared for their children to serve in a Trump military. (Yea, I think that reporting might have been a little biased, Martha)
I actually remember feeling that way myself when I voted for Ross Perot, but Bill Clinton was elected. I had a son enlisting in the army. And goodness… if the man couldn’t control his personal life or even his personal body parts, why should he lead my child?
But my son did just fine. All of them did. And Bill had nothing to do with it. It was their own personal goals, values and training that guided. It was the attitude and choice to not quit when things were hard and painful that carried them.
The president, the economics of the day, the wars… yes, they have an impact. But it’s the million little ways a person chooses to live each day that makes or breaks a life.
Not a president.
Which brings me back to the group of caregivers I spent that day with… a granddaughter who had quit her job to take care of grandpa… an 86 year-old man whose wife died 10 years ago, but he comes to lunch every year to encourage people… and eat, of course. They all had interesting stories. Hard stories. But not defeated stories.
The guest speaker sat at my table for lunch. “What do you want to hear about next”, she asked me.
“How do I keep my father clean without the drama, and save what’s left of my sense of smell.”
Everyone at the table laughed. She smiled and said she could help me with that. And judging by the oohs, aahs and mad note taking in the room, most folks had the same challenge.
I’d shared time and space that day with people who are choosing a hard way of life. On purpose. A way that is full of unknowns, trying and failing and keeping on. I left encouraged and uplifted. It washed the ugly TV drama right out of my mind.
Real people. Real life. Real hope. It really is out there. I keep praying our politicians will become real one day too.
He made the world to be lived in, not to be a place of empty chaos. Isaiah 45:18