noun: an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
I can’t believe my washing machine broke down again. I tried to fix it on my own so the local repair guy doesn’t think I’m sabotaging it just to get him over. I went down armed with screw drivers of different shapes and sizes, but I couldn’t even figure out how to take the spinner off–and that’s the problem, the spinner doesn’t spin. So, now we’re washing-machine-less till Tuesday–when he comes to fix it, again.
Which is why I was washing my clothes at the centre today. But after scrounging through various change reserves throughout the house I came up three quarters short and wondered where I was going to get the change for the last load. That’s when I remembered I’d taken some out of the machine the other day after doing a load of my son’s work clothes.
I’ve always been a ‘no change falls out of the wash without me knowing about it–and therefore having to carefully determine, by every means possible–including, but not limited to forensic testing, mathematical deliberation and possible interrogation, because I don’t want to live with the guilt of taking someone else’s money, or worse–giving my money to someone else’ kind of mom. If there are too many pairs of pants in the machine, and no way to be certain whose pockets the money fell out of–and if everyone is pretty certain they had change in theirs, nobody gets it. I can’t even bring myself to keep it, or consider it a tip–it gets given away. So that’s why I’d put the change on his bed with the clean work clothes.
I am well aware that no sane person would think twice about going back and getting that money for the wash. But we’re not talking someone whose mind has been fully renewed yet. We’re talking someone who is insane enough to still be washing and folding her son’s work clothes and setting them neatly on the bed so that he can toss them onto the floor with the rest of the previously folded clothes that he rummages through when he needs to find something fresh to wear, when it’s time to get into it.
We’re talking someone who took, quite literally, the words of that Nobel Peace Prize winning book by Robert Munsch I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my BABY you’ll be (oh, it didn’t win a peace prize?–well, it should have). Someone who really has to learn to do a little less thinking about things before doing them so she might finally move ahead with the really big decisions. Someone who has to do a little less for her grown-up kids so they can get on with the business of growing up.
And, so, I wondered if going back and sifting through that change to see if there might be any quarters was the right thing to do. And, as ‘serendipity’ would have it, there were three! Three tarnished quarters to finish the wash with. And then began the debate, because on matters of such extreme importance one must carefully consider the ramifications of one’s actions.
Should I merely take the quarters? Perhaps I should just borrow the quarters. Maybe the quarters really weren’t his in the first place, anyway–but, how did they get in the machine, then? And that would beg the further question: what would I do with the remaining change? Would it be right to keep it for, let’s say, laundry purposes? As opposed to giving it away?
Mind you, the rest of the change amounted to two pennies, but that’s not the point. It’s the principle of it. If taking two pennies today with total disregard as to who they actually belong to could become an easy thing to do, then maybe tomorrow it wouldn’t be all that hard to nab that little old lady’s purse; or pull off that bank heist–do you know what I mean?
But time was running out (I had to get back to put the fabric softener in the rinse cycle). I took the money. The money that was, as ‘serendipity’ would have it, at the right place at the right time in the right amount. From the dirt it was taken, and to the dirt it would return.
When I bought this Boston Fern several years ago,
I wasn’t really expecting for it to last as long as it has.
“Careful,” the woman at the hardware store told me on my way out. “They’re very temperamental. Better not touch it too much, don’t let the fronds rest on anything (they hate that, and will probably die), just hang it somewhere out-of-the-way and keep it watered.”
“Those are hard to take care of,” my friends told me. “Try not to let the fronds touch anything,” they said.
Since my track record for plants succumbing to a slow and painful demise in my presence was pretty much 100% I was pretty sure it was only a matter of time. After all, consider the Peace Lily–mine neither complains nor weeps, yet after five years with me it’s an anemic nervous wreck.
Apparently, Peace Lilies are practically impossible to destroy. Which is why they’re considered the perfect plant for the ‘houseplant challenged.’ Which is also why there are some things about my life I just don’t get.
Since I figured the fern’s days were numbered anyway I subjected it to the usual abuse and neglect: days without rain followed by the requisite drenching downpour. Just the conditions Peace Lilies are supposed to thrive under, by the way. I plunked it right on top of my hutch and let the fronds fondle the edges.
I shake it out when I notice brown leaves and fluff it up when I get the whim. I take it down regularly and give it a thorough soaking and shaking, then plop it back on top again–all the while letting its gorgeous green talons brush up against walls and countertops, and not to mention, me. And what do I get for it? It loves me!
In fact, most of the pot is completely overtaken with amorous feelings (and roots) and it’s still thriving. Maybe ferns are just sick and tired of people mollycoddling them. Maybe they want to be treated like everybody else.
And that has me thinking about some of the relationships in my life. Maybe I’ve just mollycoddled the life right out of them. I just can’t figure out where I went wrong, but, thank God I’m surrounded by so many finicky ferns flourishing despite all the shaking they get sometimes. And, I still have those gorgeous Ivies.
Guess that’s the thing about relationships–sometimes it’s not about how careful we are to keep them from dying. Sometimes it’s all about just letting them be.
Here’s a card I wouldn’t mind sending to a few people:
Okay, I know some people who would love to hand deliver one of these to me.
Candy coated hostility steeped in sunshine, smothered in syrupy sweet insincerity and strung taut between the teeth of seething animosity–it’s what happens when being nice fails to deal honestly with being hurt.
A few faces come to mind. I see them, palms rubbing together as I open the envelope, an evil gleam ricochets off squinted eyes as I pull out the card. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning, and . . . well–I’ve done things.
Some people would like for God to repay me for what I’ve done, or what they thought I’ve done. Or what they told others I’ve done, or heard from someone else who thought I must have done something–or maybe that I’d failed to do something, or didn’t quite live up to their expectations. Or just that I look like I’ve done something I shouldn’t have done and that somehow offended them after hearing about all the other things I’ve done or failed to do from others who’ve heard about the fame of my failing to do certain things I may or may not have failed to do.
A few things come to mind, too. Some ‘not so funny’ things that have cost me years of anguish and grief. Some miserable failings; some outright nasty things; some careless flippant things; things I have deeply regretted.
I didn’t get to be a saint by being a saint all my life. I got in the same way anyone who gets forgiven gets in: Grace. Why does it seem to have disappeared from our vocabulary these days?