Friday, November 14, 2008

Be Still, Listen and Learn

With the devastating state of the world economy, a frightfully unsteady stock market, unending wars that are erupting and displacing thousands of people from a life they are accustomed to… impoverished or otherwise…a solution or even hope of recovery from the mess that we are in seems impossible. The negative news is overwhelming and mind-boggling.

What can we do to assist in this endeavor to turn things around when we feel so helpless and distressed ourselves? Do we even know where to begin?

As positive as I have tried to be, I found myself in the midst of this gloomy gloom recently when my Grandkids came over for a visit. Yes, I was down and out about the stock market, higher food prices and the fact that we would probably have to work well into our nineties before we could even think about retiring, but, I didn’t realize the impact I had on the Grandkids until one of them, age five, asked me if she could make my bed.

“Why do you want to make my bed?” I was embarrassed to inquire.

She calmly reminded me, “Because Grandma, you told us that the first thing we should do when we get up in the morning is to make our beds and the day will be a good one.”

That put me in my place.

I started making excuses as to exactly why my bed wasn’t made, offered to assist her in taking on this chore, handed her a five dollar bill and told her she could have my convertible when she was sixteen, and then continued to go on in an attempt to mask my embarrassment of laziness, lethargy, or whatever the problem was that I was trying so hard to cover up. (Cover up…not trying to be Freudian here.) I was truly thrown for a loop by the honesty of this little five year old.

In the first place, the reason I preached to my Grandchildren to make their beds when they got up in the morning was because of something I observed years ago when visiting my aged Grandparents.

One morning I observed my eighty-five year old Grandfather take care of my Grandmother who was failing mentally and physically. He was well aware that her time was limited.

When Grandma woke up he would help her get dressed and take her to the living room to her usual place on the sofa, bring her a cup of tea in her favourite teacup, comb her unruly hair out of her eyes, kiss her on cheek, and then he would make her bed.

Keeping the pain to himself, he struggled with his arthritic legs as he went back and forth on either side of the double bed, pulling the sheet and blankets up to the top of the mattress, then carefully folding them back one-fourth of the way while smoothing out all of the wrinkles that his old blue eyes could manage to find. He then unfolded Grandma’s cherished silk bedspread across the bed and neatly tucked her pillows under the top of the spread. With an arduous effort he picked up the three small decorative pillows that were set on the chair the night before, and carefully placed them against the headboard, patting the pillows as if fluffing them would make the situation brighter.

As I stood at the door and watched this man do something that at the time I felt was unnecessary, I thought to my self, what difference does it make if the bed is made or not? No one is going to see it and the door to the bedroom is always kept shut anyway.

I asked him, “Why don’t you let me make the bed and you can have your cup of coffee with Grandma?”

He simply said, “If I stop making the bed then I know I have given up.”

I totally understood what he was saying. Even the smallest positive task can keep a heart beating in the right direction.

I was ashamed that I had forgotten about this little lesson of faith and hope in times of adversity. I gave my Granddaughter a hug.

We have to be positive about the outcome of these difficult times. We must make our own beds and keep our own lives as tidy as possible and we must not judge others. No one is going to see that your bed is made but you and your curious relatives. But, there is always a good chance that someone else will benefit from your “good day”.

Well, it’s a start.

1 comment:

Dave said...

This is pure genius. I can feel the lesson. I can feel the people you write about. I can feel the power you have. Don’t stop writing, the world needs it.