Saturday, August 11, 2007

Memories are yarns - does it matter

When you think back to your childhood what are your fondest memories? I have so very many, growing up in the county only adds to the multitude of memories that I can embellish and tell anytime the need arises. Since I was young I have been know for the “tales” I could spin. My Dad use to say that I could remember things that happened before I was born. This is more than likely a true statement – because I have always loved a good story and I learned at the feet of some of the best yarn spinners to come out of Alabama. I can remember falling asleep many nights curled up on the floor beside the couch listening to my relatives talk about the “good ole days”. If my Grand dad told a story my Uncle J.B. would have to up him one – this could go on for hours. If one went hunting and shot a deer, a couple of rabbits and a squirrel the other one shot a bear. I was young and believed everything and when I told my friends my Uncle shot 2 bears and a wolf. So, who knows how much of what is stuck in the creases of my mind is something I heard or something I added and for the most part who cares. Everyone loves a good yarn! There are some things that are my memories that need nothing added.
My Mom and Dad had only 3 “fight’s” that I can remember. My Dad worshiped my Mom and he expected the rest of us to worship at the pedestal he had placed her on. One day Mom went to “town” with my aunt to get a makeover at Merrill Normans – this make over was suppose to make you look 10 years younger. Mom would have been around 35, not old by any stretch of the imagination. Well, Dad and I got up that morning and went fishing as we often did on Saturday. Not long after we got home Mom knocked on the front door. Dad went to answer it – of course he knew who it was – but he played along. When Dad opened the door he said “Hi, little girl have you lost your Mother”. Dad just knew this would make Mom feel great – she was suppose to look 10 years young after all. Things did not go quite as Dad planned. Mom pushed passed him, ran straight to the bedroom, flung herself on the bed and cried like her heart was broken. Dad and I stood at the front door looking at each stopped in mid laugh. Dad had never been able to handle Mom crying and now he was the one that had caused her to “take to her bed”. He tried explaining that he thought she looked very nice but the tears would not stop. So, we sat on the couch and waited. As I have mentioned we did not have indoor plumbing at this point. There was no bathroom for Mother to go in and wash up – she had to walk out through the living room right pass me and Dad. We waited and waited finally the bedroom door opened and what we saw look like a raccoon with red lipstick smeared on it’s face – BUT we did not crack a smile. Mom walked pass us and into the kitchen – Dad and I slipped out the front door our plans were to lay low for awhile. Dad was heartbroken that he had hurt Mom’s feelings and was clueless about how to make things better.
We feed the hogs and got some corn out of the shed for the cows. By the time we got back to the house Mom’s face was washed clean and not a word was ever spoken about it again. I will say that Mom never went to have her “face done” again.
The other 2 involved a Masonic Bible and a movie about Pinky on a Horse named Stinky –but those are tells for another day.
I do know that my Mom and Dad loved each other with a love that not many people will ever experience. As different as they were , love was the common thread woven through their lives.
He was her strength and she was his heart beat.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

To Blessed to be stressed .......

I am stressed out – if I had a dollar for every time I have heard that statement over the past 2 weeks I would have – well, I would have enough money to buy a really nice pair of shoes. Stress makes people react in different ways. Some people eat – hey I will use any excuse to eat – some people get very quiet and withdraw – this is not my style – some people sleep a lot – heck I wish I could sleep – some people cry – I am not a crier unless it is a sad movie – some people go home and take it out on their family – hey it is just me and Tom and I can’t afford to tick him off he might stop cooking, if I kick one of the dogs it would break my and their hearts – some people take it out on store clerks, resident managers, maintenance men, leasing agents, bookkeepers or regional manager – anyone that they can feel superior to. I think the latter is the hardest for all of us to deal with. Why would Ms. Smith in 101 that sent me a Thank You note last week come in today and curse me out? Why would Mr. Jones stop me in the parking lot and jump my case when he was so thankful last week when I fished his watch out of his toilet? Why would Jane in bookkeeping be so rude to me today when last week she told me a really fully joke when I called. Why would my boss tell me in one breath that I was doing a great job and in the next tell me that I could “hit the road” if I did not like the way things were being done?
Oh, we all get those “a—chewing” that we deserve, and we KNOW when we deserve them – then there are the ones that come out of nowhere and make us feel like we have just hit the “Twilight Zone”. You know the ones that you walk away from shaking our heads trying to figure out where things went south.
Well, folks I hate to say - but it ain’t about you. As big as our ego maybe for the most part when someone dumps on us for no reason there is a much deeper cause for the outburst. Maybe they had a fight with their spouse that morning, maybe their boss just jumped on them and you know the ole saying “IT rolls down hill”. Worst case scenario they are truly just on rude son of a gun taking advantage of their position.
For the most part we will never know why today someone chose to rain on our parade. What we have to realize is that the venom we are sprayed with does not determine our worth. No one should ever be allowed to take away our dignity and pride. But so often we allow these encounters to “color” the picture we carry in our minds eye of our own worth. As self confident as we all want those around us to perceive our actions, for the most part we are all seeking approval. Just like a little kid we want others to tell use “Good Job” – or at least say thank you.
So, the next time you are feeling “stressed out” try not to pay it forward – and if someone “rains on your parade” say a little prayer for them and Thank God that you are TOO BLESSED to be STRESSED, or plot their demise – but that is such a waste of a perfectly good hour, day or week.
Keep smiling and remember – You are somebody cause God don’t make no junk! Or as in my case I am still a work in progress – in His time not mine.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Car Salesman - God Bless them all........

We went to buy a new car this weekend. Buying cars is a task that I usually do alone! There are two things in life that Tom hates. One is going to the dentist and the other is – you guessed it – shopping for a new car. I did as much leg work on the internet as possible prior to venturing out in public with the car salesman loathing Deacon. This is a man that makes his money selling heating and air systems and has the highest margin of profit in the company. You would think he would enjoy the “dance” that car salesmen do. You know where they give you a price and you say that is too high, then they say they will go ask their manager if he can do any better. They go behind some mysterious closed door count to 100 then come back out and present you with the best deal they have seen all day. You start to leave and they play run and touch the wall again. After a couple of hours you reach a price that you think you can live with everyone is happy UNTIL – you have to go into that dark office at the end of the hall with the guy wearing a visor and has a pencil behind his ear. Somehow the good deal you thought you were getting is now costing you $2,500 more than it was 20 minutes ago. Then there is the extended warranty spill and the gap insurance talk. When you think you have heard it all you get the life insurance and maintenance song. Finally you get down to signing the papers. Tom wants all of this to take place in less than 30 minutes. I spent 3 days haggling with the salesman before I bought my Bug.
I arranged for financing before we hit the lots. I called and talked to several internet salesmen and had narrowed the search to a local dealer. Off we went. The guy I spoke with on the internet passed us off to another guy – I had asked that they have the two cars we were interested in as close to the show room as possible. Well, that did not happen – off to a bad start already! When the salesman locates the car he did not have the keys so we stand in the hot sun for 15 minutes waiting for him to locate the keys. To my knowledge he never did! We went back in the show room and Tom told the guy he did not need to drive the car just tell him the bottom line price. The guy comes back with a sheet with the sticker price one it. Blood pressure is now going up. Tom informed the guy that he was not going to pay sticker price – then the guy made what turned out to be the death nail – “do you not want me to make any money on the car”. We are out the door folks! Of course the general manager comes chasing after us and offers Tom $2,500 off the car. This just served to tick Tom off more. He told the guy he had ask for his best price and told it was the sticker price now all of a sudden he had “found” $2,500 he could take off. We left. We went to CarMax and to tell you the truth if they had been able to find what Tom wanted we would have bought it from them. They had very few Toyota’s – they guy said they sell as quickly as they get them in.
Time to take a break – Tom went to Mass and I stayed home and made a few more calls. I called a dealership not far from the house and spoke to the internet salesman – he sounded 12 on the phone. I told him what we were looking for and he said – I have the EXACT car for your husband! Son, son if you only knew that you were about to meet a man of the cloth that seems to lose his religion when he enters a car dealer. I talked to Eric for quite awhile, I explained the problem. I made an appointment for 7 pm. I do not know who the patron saint of car salesmen is but I suggested to this kid that he find out and sent up a prayer – I would be doing the same. When we arrived Eric came running out. Heavens, he was only 12, you could not help but like the kid. He had the car front and center – no waiting for keys and no standing in the heat. From the moment I saw the car I knew it was Tom. We drove it – then Tom asking the ever telling question – What is your best price. Eric was prepared – I had informed him that he would have one shoot. Eric did me proud! It took us almost 2 hours to make the deal, sign the paperwork and clean out the old car. Not the 30 minutes that Tom had hoped for but not the 4 hours that I was afraid of. The kid was funny, he kept asking me if Tom was doing OK and for the most part he was.
Could someone please explain to me how a man with infinite patients when dealing with the sick and dying, with someone that is down on their luck and needs a willing ear or the parishioner that did not quite understand the homily can become the epiphany of impatience when doing something as mundane as buying a car. I have pondered this question many times and I think the answer quite simply is – a car for Tom is not a status symbol, it is not an extension of his personality or his self worth. A car is simply the means by which he gets from one place to another. In his mind buying it should be like buying a pair of shoes – these are the one I want , they are the color I like, they fit and the price is printed right on the box!
The readings today were about Vanity – how “STUFF” takes the place of God in our life. For most of us this is so very true – if you want to talk about “stuff” I got stuff – for Tom stuff is simply “Stuff” – his eyes are on the final reward and he want need any “stuff” when he heads HOME.
Lord, help me to lay aside “stuff” and put you first and foremost in my life.