“Life,” as my dear (and now departed) Aunt Sue used to say, “just gets so daily.”
And don’t we all know it? What Aunt Sue meant is that we seem to handle the monumental stuff, take the big problems right in stride. It’s the gnat-swatting, stoplight-waiting, lost-key-searching, need-a-couple-of-dollars-and-I-don’t-have-change, haven’t-had-time-to-do-the-laundry irritations of the day that wear us out.
I try to pick my battles, but this has been one of those weeks I lost every one. You know what I mean. I was bobbing, everyone else was weaving. I zigged. The rest of the world zagged.
I had the whole dominoes falling situation going on. A 10-minute delay here, and a five-minute miss there; need to do this, but suddenly that became more urgent. Normally I can deal with it – everything. I thrive on a challenge. That locker room sign, the one that reads, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I get it. I mean I totally get it.
Yeah. I pat myself on the back and throw back my shoulders. I’m one of the tough ones.
This week, though, it wasn’t happening.
Oh, not that there were really any bad mess ups. Nothing terrible at all was going on. In the grand scheme of things, I had plenty of blessings to count and please don’t think I wasn’t counting them. I was.
But I kinda, sorta also had a little pity party. It was private, or it should have been, until my friend called. She asked what I was doing and I told her every nitty-gritty, doesn’t amount to a hill of beans detail, pointing out along the way I knew I had no right to complain, but acknowledging I was going to abuse the privilege and complain anyway.
Yep. My sweet friend got all the “and then she said” details, all the frustrations and every little aggravation (with necessary exaggerations now and again) the day had held. And she listened. And she sympathized. She took my side without qualification, and without minimizing. Best of all, she didn’t try to fix.
She did remind me of what I knew. What hadn’t been very good, was surely going to get better. She encouraged a little bit and she said – convincingly – the four words every mother, sister, friend, neighbor needs to know how and when to say.
“It will be OK.”
She was right. I must have known it would be, but I sure needed to hear someone else say it. Because I sure needed to believe it.
So then mustering all her super friend, that’s what friends are for wisdom, she asked if I’d had supper.
There went the waterworks again. No all the little mini disasters of the day had peaked at lunch time and I hadn’t even eaten lunch – much less supper because there hadn’t been time. But it was OK. I wasn’t going to make a big fuss about that, probably just going to make myself a tuna fish sandwich and call it a night.
I still had a column to write, I told her.
“Well,” she said, “I was really calling because I need a friend to go with me to Dunbar East.”
OK, here’s the thing. Dunbar East has been around San Angelo for 60 years. When we were in college in the early ’70s and homesick for our moms’ good cooking, we could scrape together enough cash to go eat at Dunbar East.
Same family owns the place, same home-cooked-style foods are on the menu and you get a lot for your money. It’s our sort of comfort fix for when daily problems steal our zeal. Our meal of choice is the bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches. We split a small order of fries – which are cut from fresh potatoes in the kitchen and fried like potatoes were fried before frozen foods and fast food were invented. We never fail to go in and sit down that we don’t run into folks we know or have known through the years. Within minutes, the world’s all rosy again.
Before we take our first bites, we say grace. We always do when we dine together. This time it was my turn to pray. I said I was thankful for friends and good suppers, and I was sorry to have been among the complainers and criers that day. Help us remember, I plead, that the daily strife of the daily life is really quite a blessing.
Editor’s note: Candace Cooksey Fulton, formerly of Brownwood, is a freelance writer now living in San Angelo. She writes weekly columns for the Brownwood Bulletin and the San Angelo Standard-Times, each unique to the particular paper. She can be reached at email@example.com.