|Janice Shockney May 4, 1937- July 18, 2012|
I have been thinking lately about the lessons I learned from my Mom. It is hard to boil down into a list all the things your parents teach you along the way, but this memory keeps coming up lately and the lesson it taught me unaware sums up my Mother's philosophy on life: And it is simply this:
We can't control everything. Plan for Joy. Expect some problems along the way. And, most days are salvageable.
My Mother was a planner. My Mother was resilient. My Mother was fun. And, if we made plans for a fun day, somehow we were going to have a fun day. On this particular day in the Summer, I woke up with excitement because Mom had planned to take the day off for a picnic and swimming for my brother, Gary, me, and my Grandmother too. My Mom worked, and during summer break, I was home all-day-everyday just waiting on something to do. There was camp, swim lessons, VBS, and sometimes, Mom would take a day off to take us swimming. Those days were the best!
I could hear her in the kitchen before I was fully awake. I knew she was working on the Tuna Salad sandwiches we would eat for lunch. The mixture was a bit weird, but she added enough sweet pickles that I got over the mayonnaise, and after a couple of hours in the pool, a kid would eat anything. She made a pan of brownies the night before and Kool-Aid Lemonade we would carry in a Tupperware pitcher and drink in styrofoam cups as we sat on our towels with hair dripping trails of water and happiness down our backs on a brief break in the fun of the day. I could not wait!
|Mom, Dad, Gary and Me in the 70's|
As we were preparing to leave our house that morning something unexpected happened. My mother was walking up and down the stairs to load up the trunk of our blue Ford Granada when she called down to Gary (our kitchen was in the basement - weird I know) to bring up the Double Colas, an 8-pack of heavy glass bottles housed in a divided, paper carton. Apparently, there had been something wet near the drinks so that when my brother picked them up the bottom released and glass hit the concrete floor of our old country kitchen. The glass flew in all directions like shrapnel and a piece lodged in Gary's calf. He hit the floor crying in pain, and chaos seemed to take over.
My Grandma started screaming for Mom and in a few minutes, we were all in the car, heading not for the swimming pool but for the ER. I was crying for a different reason now, but not so that anyone could see.
After what seemed like hours, we left the ER with my brother's leg bandaged and under the bandage 6 stitches in exchange for the glass that the doctor removed, with instructions to keep the wound clean and dry. DRY. Great, I thought. There would be no pool. No picnic. I must have said something out loud about by brother's part in ruining the day because I remember that MaMa (pronounced "MawMaw") scolded me.
I sat quietly in the back of the car with my eyes closed, and when the car finally stopped, I realized we had indeed driven from the emergency room to the pool. Just like we planned! I was thrilled! My Grandma was flabbergasted. My Mom was matter-of-fact. It seemed to her that we planned to go the pool for a picnic and a half-day was still more fun than not going at all. She reasoned that Gary could wrap his leg in a plastic bag, sit on the side, and at least get the other one wet if he wants to. And, we all needed lunch anyway, and it was already in the car. So a picnic it was!
I remember my Grandmother retelling the tell later. "Anyone else would have canceled the swimming day if a trip to the ER became necessary," she laughed, "But not Janice, she never lets anything get in the way of what she wants to do."
I loved that about my Mom. She just made the best of things (like adding extra sweet pickles to the Tuna Salad). She readily admitted that she couldn't control a lot of what happened. She taught us to plan with joyful anticipation, to accept problems or challenges as part of the deal, and not let anything ruin the fun if it is within your power. And most of the time it is. Thanks, Mom. That advice has always served me well.
|No wonder this was one of her life verses.|