Last year, January 5th-9th, my daughter and I went to visit my son in sunny Florida. We got on a plane in Tennessee where it was 27 degrees and emerged in Fort Lauderdale 6 hours later, a sunny 85 degrees and palm trees lining the drive. What a treat! We had a great visit. They played tennis, I shopped, we went to the beach, my daughter and I took a jewelry class, and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. We hated to leave. We had brunch on the last day outside a cute deli and when we got off the plane in Memphis at 6 pm it was 30 degrees and sleeting rain.
We headed for home which is an hour and a half from the airport in this sleet thinking this sure was a rude awakening. We drove on the interstate about 30 minutes, then the light on the dash said, Caution: Low Tire Pressure Left Front Tire. Now it officially stunk to be back home. I got off the interstate, stopped at three gas stations before I found one with an air hose. Of course, it was not in a covered area. Oh yeah, it required 4 quarters. Between the two of us we looked through our purses, the console and the ashtray. As we hunkered in the sleet attempting to put air in the tire, simultaneously laughing and saying words I won’t print, we realized the fun was officially over for this trip. We got back on the road and drove another hour praying that we had put the air in that tire right. Even with that abrupt end to our trip, the three of us had a great visit and made some wonderful memories.
This past week was the one year anniversary of that trip. January 6th was a snow day in Tennessee for all of us, meaning there was an inch of snow on the ground. We were cozy in the house all day. My daughter and I started talking and reminiscing about that trip with my son/her brother. One of his odd quirks was his dietary habits. He preferred baked/boiled chicken, brown rice, and salad with a lot of cut up veggies for lunch and dinner. He was an athlete so there were a lot of protein bars, smoothies, fruit, and water mixed in during the day as well. So, let me tell you a story from that trip.
She and I arrived at our hotel that first afternoon of our trip around 2:00 pm. We called our boy to see what time he got off work and wanted to get together for dinner. The plan was made for us to pick him up at 6:00. He came bouncing out to the car with his backpack and lots of hugs were exchanged. We asked him for a recommendation for dinner. He suggested a restaurant he thought we would love and off we went. Picture it: Boca Raton, fancy restaurant, dim lighting, white tablecloth and napkins. The menu! Oh, my word. When I tell you that everything on it was fabulous, my description cannot do it justice. We literally were drooling over everything single salad and entrée. The choices! The server came around, took my order, then my daughter’s. Then she turned to our boy. He very pleasantly told her he just wanted water. I was shocked and asked if he was sure. With full confidence, he said yes.
The server left to place our orders. He bent over and reached inside of his backpack. He pulled out a To Go container of food he had prepared at home. In it was a chicken breast, brown rice, and a salad full of chunky vegetables. I was horrified. “What are you doing?”, I asked, eyes bugging out. He said he preferred his own food because it wasn’t heavily seasoned, he knew it would agree with his digestion, and he really looked forward to his meal every night. I asked him, “Then why did you bring us here?” He replied, “I thought that you and Hope would really enjoy this restaurant and I was trying to make us happy.” I suggested that he at least ask for a plate to put his food on. He was more than agreeable to that. Our food came and all three of us enjoyed our dinner. I was so happy to see him and spend time with him; I didn’t want to ruin the mood, so I just went along with it.
The next night we went to a movie theater to see The Revenant with Leo DiCaprio. I wish that I had taken some photographs of this movie theater. This movie theater was fancy. First of all, the movie theaters in Boca Raton have valet parking. Yes, valet parking. To park all of the Rolls Royces, Mercedes, Lambourginis, Bugattis, and a whole bunch of other fancy cars in. So, I pulled up in our rented Nissan Altima for valet parking with full confidence. We all had a big laugh at ourselves after we handed over our fancy key fob.
We bought our tickets and got seated. The boy was seated between my daughter and me. If you have not seen The Revenant, well, it is three hours long, Leo trudges through the snow, ice, covered in a bear skin, and basically looks miserable. Not a chick flick for sure but my son was totally engrossed. Again, I was just so happy to be next to him. Well, halfway through this three hour movie, he reached into that backpack and pulled out that To Go container of chicken, brown rice, and salad and a stainless steel fork. As he hunched over to eat it in the dark the way a man eats in front of the tv, my daughter and I exchanged a look behind him that said, “What the heck???” He was totally happy in the dark watching this movie that he had been looking forward to.
I tell this story not to shame him but to shame myself. My daughter and I were recalling this last Friday on our snow day. She said that at the time she was so embarrassed but looking back on it, those two incidents seem so trivial now that he is gone. She said she would give anything to see him eating his To Go meal just to have time with him. That was just him being him. He was happy and he really wasn’t hurting anyone. We cried some tears over this perspective. How often are we more worried about what a stranger may think than we are about the comfort and companionship of someone we love? It is so insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
We all have pet peeves about someone else’s behavior. I personally have a pet peeve about someone stabbing a fork on a plate while eating. I cringe when someone slurps a hot beverage loudly. All I can think about is I wish they would wind that coffee up real quick. I hate to see someone’s finger near their nose or their ear canal at the table. This says more about me than them, I know. But we all have pet peeves that can drive us nuts.
I am not saying a person we live with is not ever supposed to get called out on socially annoying behavior, but I guess it’s all about perspective. What are some of the great qualities our loved ones possess? Do we ever hyper focus on those? I’ll admit I don’t but maybe I should.
Perspective. Missing someone can sure give you perspective.
She writes about life, death, grief, and recovery.
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