Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sometimes Ya Just Gotta Say Hmmmm…..

My younger daughter and I recently made a visit to the local law enforcement center. Without going into details, she was in a situation that started to feel threatening and it was time to get some professional advice.

The Greenville LEC has a unique situation. The space is shared by both the county sheriff’s office and the city police department. Their jurisdictions are different, but their officer desks are directly across from each other. When we arrived, no one was manning the city police desk which is where we needed to report. But the officer at the sheriff’s desk asked if he could help.
We explained our story to Deputy William Davis. He was professional, courteous and friendly, but explained that we indeed needed to file the report with a city officer. He detailed what to do in order to make that happen. He also assured us we were taking the correct action for the situation.

It was the day of a Clemson football game, and both my daughter and I wore our team colors proudly. Before we walked away, Officer Davis took the opportunity to give us a little ribbing over our team choice. He was an obvious USC fan, Clemson’s biggest rival. It was all good-natured and we poked fun at each other as every USC and Clemson fan does throughout the season.
An officer with the city appeared and we spoke with him. He took some action, dispensed some advice and walked us to our car. We went on our way feeling relieved and thankful that we have a police force that is approachable, conscientious and empathetic. A couple of weeks went by and we breathed a sigh of relief as it appeared the officer’s action had resolved the issue.

The day after Christmas, while most start winding down from the holiday, we were gearing up for the birth of my older daughter’s baby. I spent the afternoon with the very pregnant mama seeing Les Miserables. We enjoyed the movie while eating popcorn and nonpareils. After the movie, I kissed her goodbye, told her to get some rest and that I would see her the next morning at the hospital. I myself was ready to get home, get comfy and enjoy a relaxing night in anticipation of the big day.
I wasn’t home but five minutes, barely slipped my shoes off, when the younger daughter called. After saying hello, she told me to “hold on.” I heard a male voice say, “Are you sure you’re ok? Did you hit the steering wheel?” It didn’t take a brain surgeon to quickly surmise she had been in an accident. But I also knew by the fact that she called me and sounded very calm, she was ok.

She told me her location and I was back in the car in a flash. When I arrived to the accident scene, I was a little taken aback by the number of police vehicles and blue flashing lights. There must have been six patrol cars as well as an ambulance. I was immediately approached by a police officer and identified myself as “the mother”.  The officer assured me my daughter was ok but that she was in the ambulance keeping warm. Seeing her with my own eyes brought a rush of relief and the EMT’s gave a run down on their assessment. They said she would be sore for a few days, but nothing was broken and she was fine.
We climbed out of the ambulance and I took a moment to survey the damages to her car. Well, no wonder there was so much brouhaha – the other vehicle was a Greenville County Sheriff Department cruiser. The obligatory Crown Victoria was entangled with her Honda Accord. There was a lot of damage.

“Mom, the officer who hit me was the same one who helped us when we were here,” my daughter explained. Sure enough, there stood Deputy William Davis. I walked over to him and asked if he was ok. He said he was and immediately apologized for the accident. “It was an accident and the important thing is that both of you are ok,” I told him. And then I boldly poked my index finger into his chest (which he probably didn’t feel through the bullet-proof vest) and said, “But do you know why this happened?” He looked at me wide-eyed while the officers around him took a more rigid stance. “Because you made fun of us for being Clemson fans,” I explained. Deputy Davis broke into a big grin and the other officers relaxed their stance, laughed and joined in on the ribbing.
The cars were towed, the Highway Patrolman handed out copies of the accident report and the officer-in-charge assured me that everything would be processed by the county as needed. He handed me his card saying, “If you need anything, just call me.” I felt like I had just gotten the “Get Out of Jail Free” card from the top of the Monopoly Chance pile.

Over 400 deputies work for the Greenville County Sheriff’s Department. What were the odds that the same deputy who had assisted us one month ago would be the one who t-boned my daughter as he attempted to make a left turn into the LEC?
People come into our lives for a reason, though sometimes it is not unveiled at the moment. Coincidence is but one factor in the grand scheme. Like a giant puzzle, people, places and events find their interlocking partners. Only after all the pieces are in place can we step back and see the complete picture. And sometimes that’s when you just gotta say, “Hmmmm, now I get it.”

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I Hate the Word Hate

Actually, I have a love-hate relationship with the word hate. I love that it is short, contains one-syllable and is to the point. I love that it rhymes with fate. I love that a word so small in stature carries such power. But I hate that it is used to hurt, blaspheme and display anger so deep that it is beyond my comprehension.

I remember discovering the word as a kid. It was a new way to express extreme dislike such as “I hate carrots and don’t even think about putting them on my plate.” It was a catch-all word – you could hate people, places, events, inanimate objects.  But it just meant you really, really, really didn’t like something. The concept of pure, vitriolic, gut-wrenching hatred wasn’t a reality yet. I simply hadn’t lived enough life to know what that was and how to feel it.
I am now older, and yes, wiser. As a result, I have tried to delete the word hate from my vocabulary because I have seen the results of real hatred and it is stomach-turning. I don’t want that type of karma in my life. I always knew I was a peace-loving hippy at heart, but now I actually try to walk the walk.

But the word hate still holds validity; it just needs to be used in the proper context. I don’t hate people (ok, just one but I am working on a twelve-step program with God on getting past it). But I do think I hate some situations.
I hate the political division in our country. I honestly do remember a time when both sides would find common ground, give a little, take a little and ultimately come to a decision that they truly believed was best for our country.

I hate the violence that is prevalent in so much of our daily lives. Human life used to be cherished.
I hate that it’s the holidays and my sister is without a home to celebrate. Super storm Sandy took her home and belongings, but thank God, not her spirit and determination. She is a survivor who makes me aspire to be a stronger person.

I hate that my sister is spending her first holiday season without her beloved husband. Though they didn’t celebrate in the traditional sense, they had their own special routines and they enjoyed them together.  I hope she is able to find peace and strength in her memories.
I hate that we still have thousands of military personnel who will spend the holidays without their families because they are on the other side of the world. Though perhaps a pipe dream, I pray that someday every country can find its own peace and resolution.

I hate that my sisters are all so geographically far away and that I can’t just hop in my car and go visit them whenever I want. But I am so thankful that my daughters are within that range and that we take advantage of it often. I find more and more that time spent with my girls and my grandson are the most precious moments in my life. And in just a few days we will bring baby Quinn into the adventure.
I hate that we have not had a New Paltz reunion in the past couple of years and I hope 2013 brings the resurrection. I miss spending three days laughing, eating and being silly with friends that I love so dearly.

I hate that I have lost good friends who have gone to the other side, but I know they are here in spirit.
I hate that many people don’t know how to say “I love you” as easily and comfortably as me. It should be said daily and with sincerity. My daughters and I never end a conversation, or a text, without saying it. I am thankful they grew up knowing the true meaning of love and they have no qualms about expressing it.

And I love that they find it important enough to keep the tradition alive. As I watched my grandson last week, snuggled in the bed ready to fall asleep, I stroked his head and said, “I love you Wyatt.” Without missing a beat, he looked at me and replied, “I love you too, grandma.” At that very moment, all was well with the world and there was no hate.
Happy holidays to all my friends and family.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Go With Your Gut

Two weeks ago with nothing to do on a Saturday night, I decided to take myself to dinner and a movie. Choosing dinner was a cinch – Arizona Steakhouse’s Wedge Salad with Sliced Sirloin. It went well with a glass of red wine. As is typical when I eat alone, I sat at the bar and ended up talking to other people. Tonight was the bonus plan having sat next to a retired surgeon who provided new insight to Crohn’s Disease, my daughter’s dreaded affliction.

I was so engrossed in lively conversation, I lost track of time and had to hustle to get to the movie theatre in time for the previews. I enjoy watching the trailers for other movies almost as much as the feature film. And yes, I cry at the previews too.
The lines were long for tickets and I scolded myself for not having purchased mine online in preparation. As I was inching toward the ticket window, I watched the marquee that lists all twenty movie options at the aptly named Regal Hollywood 20 theatre. And as I scanned for my chosen movie, Flight, I moaned out loud as the movie time flashed and just like that turned to “sold out”.

The man behind me asked which movie I had planned to see and I told him. I added that my alternate choice would do – Pitch Perfect.  “You will enjoy Pitch Perfect much more. Flight was terrible,” he said. “Really, how can you go wrong with Denzel Washington?” I questioned him. “Trust me, it was way too graphic and totally depressing. You are not missing a thing,” he assured me. I was skeptical of his review but it was a moot point right now. (Or as Joey Tribbiano would have said, a moo point – it’s what cows think).
I found a seat in the back row just in time to thoroughly enjoy the previews. The final preview seemed to go on a lot longer than the previous ones. It almost seemed like it was the start of the actual movie.  But who were these young girls singing acappella? And where were Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake? Oh good Lord, I was in the wrong movie. My brain had tricked me into thinking Pitch Perfect was the movie I wanted to see when actually that movie was called Trouble with the Curve. Pitch? Baseball term? You can see how this Boomer brain made the mistaken connection.

Pitch Perfect turned out to be a fun, feel-good movie and probably a better choice for me than a story about a girl with an estranged relationship with her father (that might have hit too close to home). The singing was uplifting, the story light and there were several laughs thrown in by the Fat Amy character (my name is actually Fat Patricia). All in all, a good night.
Yesterday afternoon looked like a good time for a matinee. I checked Fandango to see the options. Since Anna Karenina was not showing at the theatre on this side of town, Flight once again became a possibility. My gut feeling told me it would be a good movie despite the unsolicited review from a stranger.  If there is one thing I have learned in my 58 years it is that I should always go with my gut feeling.

Once again, my gut proved to be a reliable barometer. The movie was riveting, the acting superb (John Goodman’s role should have been expanded) and the ending a testament to mankind’s ability to make the right decisions. Luckily my roommate remembered to bring me tissues.
Going with your gut is a credo by which to live. Gut feelings, though manifested in your gastrointestinal area, actually come from the heart. You can never go wrong with your gut feelings – they make difficult decisions easy, send warning signals when you are in danger, help you size up people within two minutes of meeting them and encourage you to have faith and hang tough when needed.

My gut feelings have never let me down. It is the reason I have incredible friends who are always there for me. It is the reason I have a terrific job right now that I love (that is a whole gut feeling story unto itself). It is the reason I love with unbridled passion. It is the reason I keep the faith even when things are not going the way I want at a particular moment. It is the reason I feel good about myself, have hope for the future and always send out good karma.
My advice – always go with your gut. It will never give you bad advice. Trust your gut instinct and you will always come out ok.  Never ignore your gut feelings - they are signs to help you make choices. And to say thank you to your gut, feed it a turkey sandwich once in awhile.