Sunday, January 5, 2014
Learning Tolerance...Again and Again and Again...
She can down a Corona with the best of the men, juggle life like it's a piece of cake,sometimes working doubles at exclusive Biaggi's where all the nutty wealthy ladies who don't like tipping request her table. Forget the bus, she's the bus and her kids know she has their backs. Yes, she's a double fisted girl with Latin blood she got from her mom and a touch of backwoods Arkansas she got from her daddy, big hearted Rose is what we call her. I know her well, she's the baby I potty trained and taught to ride a bike, fourth born child of my parents and I am the big sister that laughs loudest when she calls at midnight. We speak with British accents, talk about our art and she's first to hang up but not before she tells me how my work should be in museums, prefixed with fn's.
Rose drove eleven hours in the snow and ice with her husband and two children this Christmas with the expectation that I would greet her when they pulled into our parents house along with a marching band, whistles and Christmas penguins wearing party like it's 1999 hats, but I wasn't there. I didn't call. No hug for my sweet sister Rose. Instead, I was thanking my lucky stars that the two cars who pulled into my lane on the highway didn't kill me or my 2 grandchildren and 2 daughters. Then it was mall time, oh my gawd, the mall is hell on December 23rd and so is the grocery store! All shopping, miraculously accomplished in one night with the expectation that my love would be noticed.
For thirty five years, my mother's house has been the gathering spot on Christmas Eve, this year to 25 which meant 4:00 was changed to 6:00 pm to allow for extra cooking time and Rose was the bearer of this news via the phone. Oh I could tell she wasn't happy and I said we were looking forward to seeing her but she answered, "don't worry, we'll be gone and home before too long."
"What did you say?" I shouted. "I have to call others," she said. Click, end of conversation...and that was the beginning of the tolerance pop quiz. We have a banner that hangs in the living room that I bought when the monks came to town, it's all about tolerance. Since I learned this lesson.. ;) ...it came off the wall in a hurry, I would give it to Rose! Yea, she needed it now and it looked pretty good almost new, it was going to be her Christmas present and I would open that jar of Calamata olives that were for her, eat as many as I wanted. "No! Don't give that away mom, we love that," gasped my daughter. "She needs the lesson, not me," I said while avoiding the five phone calls all from Rose wanting to apologize.
My husband's big black friend who we've known since he was twelve, all 6 foot 4 of him on a painfully cold night with a runny nose and his box of candy bars. He comes over when you can fry eggs on the sidewalk with his candy and has never been a grump, we've loved him since the first time we met. I call him my husband's friend because he keeps him too long talking and it's obvious he wants out of our house to sell his candy. We've never taken the candy and he always gets ten bucks, always leaving with a cold Gatorade and a few bananas.
"James! You must be freezing your butt off! Come in, hey Bill, James is here," I yelled.
"Dude, you're working tonight in this?" Bill asked.
"I have to hurry with something James, nice seeing you!" I hurried.
The ribbon of feathers had to be attached to the scroll and tied with a piece of twine but I could overhear their conversation from my art studio. James had been out all night and we were the only people who answered the door. Yes, he was a new dad now and was excited to share. Now he could buy his son a Christmas present." I knew Bill had given him the cash we had set aside for Christmas day movie night.
"Give James the banner, he's a new dad and needs these words of encouragement," the voice said.
"No, it's Rose's gift."
"Give James the gift, please," it repeated.
Curlers in my hair, I walked to the door and handed James the gift with a body that felt more like a robot than human. "Merry Christmas! Now that you're a dad, this will come in handy. Please, open it later, when you're alone," I said.
He beamed with expectation, the healthy kind and Bill stood there with his mouth showing bottom teeth. Sneaky, I whispered to my guides. "not as sneaky as you" they might have answered.
Rose was full of hugs, apologies, kisses when we finally made it to my parents house. My heart grew so big it felt Grinch like and I handed her my gift, a wrapped jar of olives.
The Dalai Lama is right, the person who has the most amount of tolerance will experience good health and sleep. Me, I lost my voice, spent three nights coughing. Last night I went into the kitchen at 2:30 am for water, saw the gorgeous night with falling snow and was overcome with peace and gratitude. I'm on the mend.