Friday, August 29, 2014

Don't Wait.....Party Today

Too often we wait.  We wait too long, it’s too late to say it, it’s too late to make sure it’s known. 

Funerals are not the best time to tell someone you love them that you appreciate and admire them.  Its okay to honor people at their funeral, but the message is too late to matter to the dead.

It’s one of the lessons I have learned from our journey.  You simply don’t know what is around the next sweeping turn, you don’t know what tomorrow has in store, you just don’t know …. so dance now, spend a little money, make a little effort, take a little time to make sure people you love, know you love them.  

Celebrate today, tell people how you feel, look them in the eye when it’s quiet and the distractions at a minimum and make people understand that you love them, right now, because they can’t hear you at their funeral.

We did a little of that for Marty last Saturday.  We had the big bash, the soiree, the partaaayyy.  Marty turned 60, no easy feat given Marty’s journey.  We have twisted and turned for the last nine years with no idea what we would face next.  We, I, needed for Marty to know how much she means to me, to us, and we did, we threw her a wonderful party.

There were friends from college, friends from high school, friends from around town, friends from out of town and family, of course there was family.  And cake, always the cake, Italian Cream cake from BestYett Catering, it was the best yet.  

Marty sat at her table as person after person came to her and talked and touched and hugged.  They sat in front of her or to her side and talked to her about old times and new times and updated her on their lives, their children’s lives and their grandchildren.  Marty listened and nodded and smiled and shook hands and received hugs and by the end of the day, in spite of her self-consciousness she knew she was loved, she knew she was admired, she knew she was cherished. 

When we got home that evening Marty was tired, reasonably tired.  We got her ready for bed and I climbed in bed beside her and wished her happy birthday one last time.  I asked her if she had a good time at her party and I get an expected exhausted response, “No….too many people.”  She was tired.

My parents went to China several years ago on a business trip where they stayed for over a month.    When they returned I called my mother and asked her how she liked it.  She said, “Ask me in about a month, I’ll know better then.”  Made sense then, makes sense now, time and quiet offer perspective.

I waited until the next day to talk to Marty about the party again.  The kids, their spouses and the grands all left for home that afternoon and suddenly the house because very quiet.  I went and sat with Marty in her room and looked over and asked her again, “How did you like your party?”  She didn’t hesitate, “Loved it.”  I asked what she liked about it, “The people, I liked having all of the people talking to me.”

It was a complete turnaround, a little time and quiet helped Marty gain a perspective and begin to feel how special a time the party was.  It was always about taking time to celebrate a remarkable woman and the miracle that is her life.  I wanted her to know, today, how so many felt about her.

One of the last people to leave that day was one of our best friends.  I’ve known this guy for 50 years and Marty met him early in our lives together.  We didn’t always keep up with each other but have always been best friends.

We stood there together for just a minute and as he started to leave for his home in Austin he looked at me, hugged me and said, “I love you man.”  

Don’t wait, it’s good to say it today, it’s good to hear it today too. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Pride Doesn't Make You Fall

There is a difference between being proud of something and being prideful.  It’s a small semantic difference but an important one.  One can be proud without hubris…..hubris makes us prideful.

The Proverb saying “pride goes before the fall of humanity” points to hubris, that feeling that we are high, strong, powerful and untouchable.  Pride, being proud, is not hubris, it is taking comfort in things with you and around you that make you feel worthy, that make you feel you are accomplished, not superior.

The things people take pride in can help you understand them, what drives them, what they spend their time on, what their priorities are.  We talk about the things we are proud of, we polish them, we groom them, we display them to give us part of our sense of worthiness.

Okay….I’m making these statements as proclamations of fact.  They are like a lot of my facts; they are facts to me until one of you convinces me differently.  Go ahead, make my day.

It helps you to know my bride, Marty, a bit when you understand and know the things she is most proud of, those things in her life that build her sense of being.  If you ask her she doesn’t think about it at all, the first thing is always, our children, Matt and Erin. 
Marty has always been proud to be a mother.  She was a natural, not perfect, but really really smart and loving with our kids. 

She is practically boastfully proud of both Matt and Erin.  If you ask her, what she is most proud of, they are the first and often the only thing she will offer.  When I asked her why she was so proud of them she answered very simply, “They have become very good people.”  That’s the perfect answer.

Marty is proud of her education, shoot we are all proud of her education.  I remember when she finished her dissertation and received her doctorate we all felt like we had accomplished something.  Yes, we all took credit for something that she alone achieved, but we, me, our kids, her parents, were all invested in Marty’s efforts.  She enlisted all of us in her pursuit and when she accomplished her goal we all were proud of her and the achievement itself.

Marty has always been proud of her heritage, she took pride in where and who she came from.  Her upbringing in the panhandle of Texas by a man who was a self made agricultural entrepreneur made her feel good about herself.  She always saw herself as someone who could do anything, which came from the parents who told her she could do and survive anything.  Guess what….she has survived anything.

This brings us to her taking pride in the seemingly simple task of surviving.  If you ask Marty about pride she talks about surviving the strokes, but it’s more than her just surviving the events.  She is proud of the fact she has survived the strokes but she also is proud that she has survived the procedures, that she has survived the indignities of intimate care with her dignity intact, that she has kept her humor when so many events were humorless and that she has survived the endless gauntlet of giving others control over her everyday life.  

Pride is not a bad thing; taking pride in yourself is not inherently bad.  The things we take pride in are clearly important to us, maybe the most important things in our lives, maybe they are the things that help define us to ourselves and to other people.

I’m proud Marty is still here, I’m proud we have made a life in the midst of this new normal, I’m proud of the care all of us, together, have provided for Marty. 

See, it works; you get a clearer picture of me too.