When, I wonder, did life become so disarmingly sweet and so tenderly sad, fluctuating, literally, minute by minute. The sweetness was always there for the sampling, the sadness always at the ready to settle in. But it seems these days I am so keenly aware of the ups and downs, that my heart gets a constant workout and is finely, exhaustingly tuned to the pipings of life, grand and minute. A byproduct of aging, no doubt and there is no choice but to accept this gift, as the alternative is rolling up like an old roly-poly bug and shutting down.
But here is a sampling, of the workout my heart, your heart, any one's heart, can get in an unremarkable ten minute span of an ordinary day.
Getting out of our car at the mall and walking through the mall parking lot with my middle daughter, I receive a call from my mom. We ask about each others day and she mentions a woman who must lose her tongue to cancer, her precious tongue for tasting all life has to offer, her precious tongue for telling her son how much she loves him. I am stunned by the silence, the flavorless days that she must somehow rise above.
The next minute, while my daughter and I are getting closer to the mall entrance, both of us silent, contemplating the courage of this woman, I receive another call from my youngest daughter, frantic. She is on her break at work where she often sits in her car for a little high volume soul cleansing from her screaming Ipod. "Mom," she begins, obviously shaken. My heart sinks as I await the rest. "Both my turn signals are blinking, and I can't get them off!" I exhale, and smile. I realize, that in the rebuilding of our lives, this girl, who has had to grow up faster than her sisters, has more responsibility with a time consuming job and classes, has not yet encountered her emergency flashers. She has only been driving a little over a year, and oh, sometimes I forget how young she is. The next minute or so is spent, the three of us, two remotely, trying to find the red triangle button. Look behind the steering wheel, look by the defroster..." Oh, oh, I hope nobody comes out of work...I don't see it....I can't find it...I don't have one...Oh, I got it! She squealed, so obviously relieved to have found the off button to the bold blinking that threatened to make her a spectacle. Her youthfulness came through the phone and tickled away the sadness I had felt just seconds before.
My middle daughter and I walked into Macy's, still smiling when we held the door open for an older woman pushing her still older mom in a wheel chair. The mom in the chair was frail, and connected to tubes, the daughter was poignantly living the loss already.
Feeling her grief, my steps were markedly heavy again. My mom is very old too, I will be old soon too, if I live long enough without health insurance. I am sure my own daughter was thinking similar thoughts as we walked on in silence.
Then after a bit, the conversation started up again and we were chatting about her job in a day care. Her eyes lit up, knowing she had a snippet to lighten things up. Seems there is one of those charmingly unique children who will probably grow up to better the world. He was more than annoyed because she had told him it was time to clean up his toys. His voice tends to trail up and down, pitching at odd intervals. He squinted and studied my daughter, normally his favorite teacher, searching for a way to get back at her. "I'm gonna... I'm gonna come to your house ... and break your dishwasher!"
My daughter and I were both delighted by this random threat, at the mystery of the workings of his young mind. We linked arms, continuing on in a quest to find a mother- of- the- bride dress, and laughed a little more, because, well, our dishwasher is already broken.