Yesterday was one of those days. At approximately 7:30 a.m. my 92 year-young mother, Harriet, called me and said, “I’m going to the hospital in about twenty minutes. I called the super to take me; I’m not up to driving myself. He’s taking his kids to school first, and then he’ll come and get me.”
She continued. “My heart has been racing for a few days, and now my whole body is shaking too. … No. Don’t come. No, I won’t call an ambulance. I don’t like the noise, and I don’t want ‘them’ to be coming for ‘me.’ Everyone will be talking about it. No! Do not come. It’s nothing. I’ll call you when I know something.”
We hang up. I sit and stare at the wall for a good 15 minutes. I’m not a panicky, fast to react type of person. Since I was a little kid … it’s just how I’m hard-wired. My mind goes blank, and I stare for a bit before I move into reaction mode.
And THEN I move into action mode. In this particular case, I wrote out a check list of things to do and I was on it: Call the hospital; see if she’s arrived (in one alive piece); get a doctor on the phone; access what’s happening; clear my calendar; check the train schedule. (We live in NYC; no car! Imagine that!! We would have liked one yesterday, although driving when you are preoccupied with your mother’s demise isn’t a good idea.)
Thankfully, my husband is home. I say to him, “What book are you bringing for the train.” He tells me, and I think I’ll bring something that is going to make me feel good, something I bought some time ago and haven’t had the time to read (I figure this is no time to be reading hard-core hypnosis or coaching books; maybe something light – maybe something that will get me through the day). Grace (Eventually) Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott is my pick. I adore Anne Lamott and have even gone to hear her speak! (I’m picky about my authors.)
We head off … and when we get to the train station, I am in charge of purchasing the train tickets and Peter, my sweet and supportive husband, is in charge of breakfast. I tell him to just “pick me up a plain bagel.” (NYC bagels (due to their ridiculous super-size) – without butter or cream cheese – are about 552 calories (about! HA!). But if you gut the bread out of them, you can enjoy a relatively fat-free 400 calories, which at the end of the day is not a bad breakfast when on the run.)
When we get to the hospital, we find my mother in her emergency room cubicle, and she is having the time of her life. The hospital is a teaching hospital, and my mother is being examined by 3 ‘newbie’ doctors. She is flirting with each and every one and giving wise-crackin’ answers to their overly serious (as she sees it) queries.
Doctor A (for Adorable) asks, “Are you taking any drugs, illegal or otherwise?” And my mother says, “You mean aside from the fifth of scotch I drink every day?” He is writing down, 1/5 of Scotch (blank faced; practicing his non-judgmental doctor face.)
My mother smells wine and gets drunk. I’ve never seen her have more than a glass of Manischewitz grape wine. She spies me walking in and starts laughing so hard, that she starts to cry, as do I. The ‘newbie’ doctor is concerned that she’s having an ‘attack.’ “No,” I explain. “It’s a mother/daughter moment. And by the way, scratch off that scotch from your list.”
We visit in the ER for hours and hours. More doctors, more laughs. They are adjusting her high blood pressure medication and, at the end of the day, since she won’t allow anything more than that, we are hoping that the adjustments are enough to carry her through another 92 years.
It is at that moment that I realize that I am hungry and ask for the bagel. My husband is a hard-core Brooklynite from the old days and his family (old school) used to call pretzels bagels. Yup, he bought a bag of NYC pretzels from a fancy bakery at the train station.
I bite into the pretzel and much to my surprise, I find that it is stuffed with Mozzarella cheese.
I go nutzo … “What’s in this? I wanted a bagel and had to settle for a pretzel! Saboteur!!!” I continue on my tirade, “How could YOU buy ME a Mozzarella Stuffed Pretzel? How many calories, how much fat is in it? Could ‘they’ make anything worse for us (the American public).”
At which point my husband cuts me off and says calmly and slowly, “Grace, my dear … eventually.”
This IS a moment of grace. God has provided me an opportunity to express my upset about my mother, indirectly. An opportunity to yell and scream about Mozzarella Stuffed Pretzels. An opportunity break the damn pretzel in half and eat it, slowly, savoring the fat (by the way, knowing that I’d missed both breakfast and lunch – so really, no harm done, and the protein and fat would probably do me some good).
And I smile, Anne Lamott is right. Grace arrives Eventually (in this case, 3/4 of the way through the day … not such a long wait); and it arrives in unexpected forms. No angels singing. Just me yelling in the face of a mozzarella stuffed pretzel!!!
Sometimes a Stuffed Mozzarella Pretzel is a God-send, packed full of unexpected grace in an unpredictable form! And my husband – a form of grace, as well – shining the light on this miraculous moment of ‘grace.’
I wonder what unpredictable moments of grace will avail itself today. Long live the ‘Mozzarella Stuffed Pretzel.”
Spread the word … NOT the icing!
PS: Anyone want to leave a comment for my mother, please do so. When I put the first video of her on the site and read her your comments, she got such a huge kick. With each and every entry, she laughed, and said … “Are these your friends?” “Yes,” I responded, “although I’ve not met most of them.” Peels of laughter … “Oh,” she said, “This is a funny new world. … Read me more.”
Janice Taylor is a Life & Wellness Coach, author, seminar leader and 50-pound-BIG-Time-LOSER!
For more motivation and inspiration, join the Kick in the Tush Club: Beliefnet Chapter.
Pick up a copy of Janice’s latest: All Is Forgiven, Move ON ~ Our Lady of Weight Loss’s 101 Fat-Burning Steps on Your Journey to Sveltesville!
” . . . . kooky genius ~ see if her idiosyncratic diet plan will work for you.” ~ O, The Oprah Magazine