Snails are slow and so am I

Let’s be honest. I’ve never been the fastest kid on the block, except for reading when I was a kid. Now I read slowly to savor every word.

When I was young my father used to tell me to stop playing with my food. I wasn’t. Most of the time I was so engrossed in the grown-up conversation that I forgot to eat. Except – when Mom cooked liver and onions, an adult favorite, which meant she served it way too often. I would cut my piece of liver into teeny-tiny pieces and try to hide it amidst a huge fork-full of mashed potatoes and sautéed onions. I chewed contentedly until I reached the liver nugget in the middle and all progress stopped. I tried to swallow the liver bit whole but my mouth and throat went into full resistance.

The rule at our house was that I sat at the table until my plate was clean. Then my tactic was to try to make the food last until my dad forgot what day we’d been served the disgusting liver. That didn’t work either. After a while Dad would return to make sure I ingested it all. Darn! Why couldn’t Dad have a faulty memory and think we’d had the liver last Tuesday?

In high school typing class was a challenge. All the other students were tip-tapping away and I was pecking, not hunting because I’d actually learned where the keys were located. I practiced and practiced and made little progress. Electric typewriters were new then and I longed to try one. However, the teacher had a rule that we couldn’t graduate to an electric model until we could type 60 words per minute on a manual. Day by day I sat there looking longingly at the electric typewriters and wishing upon a star that someday I would be allowed to try one. My wish came true. On the last day of school the teacher came to me and said, “Well, I don’t think you’ll ever reach 60 words, but you’ve been working hard. You can spend the last five minutes of class on an electric typewriter.” The other students were dismissed five minutes early and I felt like a real typist pecking away on the modern equipment.

Several years later as a newly single mother, I attended Opportunity Industrialization Center, a school for low-income people to learn job skills. Most were trained for factory work but a few were trained in office skills. After weeks of seeing me struggle with the typewriter my instructor stood over me as I typed. Suddenly, she announced, “You aren’t clumsy, you have a fine motor skill disability.” Those words saved my shredded typing ego. I knew I was smart and could do almost anything I wanted that didn’t involve speed.

When I reached my 30s I began to add a few pounds, mostly from sitting in an office all day. My doctor told me to start exercising. I didn’t think I’d stick to that, so he suggested I try a team sport. As luck would have it the spring women’s softball league was about to start. During tryouts I missed nearly every ball thrown my way. By the time I figured out the trajectory of the ball and moved into position with my glove in the air, the ball had sailed over my head and bounced across the turf. You guessed it. I was that season’s right fielder. I must brag, though. One evening the third base player was ill and the coach had no one else to substitute. Our team was down by one run and the opposing batter was headed my way. The shortstop threw to me and – I caught the ball and saved the game. That moment of personal victory is still clear in my mind.

Now I fondly recall something my dad used to say, “Grandma is slow, but she’s old. What’s your excuse?” I say “fondly” because I am, as my son used to say, “Vertically challenged, horizontally enhanced and chronologically gifted.” Finally, I have an excuse for being just a bit slower than everyone else. Who said being old is a problem? It’s a gift.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, August 7, 2015

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com

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Serenity is strength

Thoughts to Ponder – July 9, 2015

“With rage in heart and clenched fists, you may feel invincible.
The truth is that you have never been weaker.”
Dr. Phil McGraw1

Life has a way of bringing our situations full circle. We face who we used to be and learn who we are now. This last week circumstances made me proud of whom I’ve become.

Many years ago I married a nice young man who said he loved me. I thought he was fun to be with, so I convinced myself that I loved him. I thought he would rescue me from my parents who set so many rules and made my life miserable. After our wedding we immediately moved across the U.S. to his military posting. We had some fun and some arguments.

After three children and several military assignments, we found that life was not so much fun and arguments were nearly non-stop. (Of course, none of this was my fault.) We parted ways, both carrying a great deal of anger and feeling fully justified in our actions. As often happens with divorced couples, our communications were rancorous and filled with threats. Eventually the children finished high school and we no longer needed to communicate. This gave us a good, long cooling off time. I could feel my anger lessen as time went by and I began to admit my contributions to the discord.

Our first visit eight years ago was touchy, but amicable. We were determined to put the past behind us. His wife and I became fast friends and I wondered where the man I had hated so many years had gone. Then he asked for directions to another relative’s city. Our daughters explained several times that he would need to go west several miles, then turn north to get there.  No matter how many times they explained, he insisted, “I don’t want to go west and north. I want to go northwest.” I chuckled and said to myself. “Oh, he’s still in there.” As the years passed we’ve met a few more times with cautious conversation and our extended family has blended well.

Last weekend was the BIG event. His family always gathers for a reunion the first Sunday in July. I’ve been invited several times by various relatives, but always turned them down for fear I’d be considered an interloper or even be excoriated for my behavior. This year I decided it was time to face the crowd. I knew I had changed and thought I could handle the situation, whatever it turned out to be.

One daughter and family drove to the mountains in one vehicle. I rode with the other daughter and husband, not an auspicious beginning. Traffic jams and motion sickness reigned supreme. I spent a good part of the trip holding onto the headrest in front of me to keep from swaying and staring at it to avoid catching any movement out of the side of my eyes. Along the way I bought Dramamine but still maintained the same position until we reached our destination, feeling only slightly stable.

Of course, everyone there thought this was hilarious, but sympathized while trying to keep straight faces. As the agony dispersed I began to interact with those present and found I was having fun. The entire visit turned out to be much better than I expected. I did not keep myself sheltered emotionally, but let events happen as they would. Even frequent rainstorms did not dampen our spirits. We laughed at the children playing in the mud and cooked for many visitors. We enjoyed seeing old friends and relatives at the reunion until the rain washed out the event and we all ran for our cars.

I felt like I belonged with these wonderful people. Even the ex and I enjoyed a few laughs and “remember whens.” I knew then that we both have finally grown into the people we were supposed to be all those years ago before anger led us astray.

Oh, the trip back was much better. I took Dramamine before we left the hotel and followed their advice about resting my head against a stationary surface and keeping my eyes closed until we were out of the mountains. I’m looking forward to seeing them again – down here in the flat lands.

My conclusion was confirmed the next day at work. A man I’d never met before said, “I sense you are a calm person. You don’t have anger in you.” I didn’t know how to respond, but WOW! What a wonderful gift from a stranger!

 Spirit, thank you for this gift of serenity after all those years of anger. And, so it is.

 © by Sharon D. Dillon, July 9, 2015

1O, the Oprah Magazine, January 2015, pg. 41

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com