This past week while the world feels as if it's been put in a blender, on high, one phrase keeps coming to mind, "If you can keep your head when all about you, are losing theirs and blaming it on you."
For years, that's been my go to mantra when my life is unpleasant due to things generally out of my control. It's my reminder that if I can keep my head, I'll probably come out fine on the other side of my crisis of the moment. It's from the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling. Because of the world we find ourselves in at the moment, my Thank You Thursday salutes the wisdom of this poem written in 1909. I posted it below just to read it again and reassure myself that the world will get better. (Even if I can't become a "man"). :)
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
I appreciate everyone’s input on the nephew/gift
dilemma.Oh sure, it’s only a dilemma because
I made it one.Having a fully
functioning conscience does make life tricky at times.
I discussed everyone’s thoughts with
Hubby.He cautioned me that while he
agreed in principle, I could be opening a Pandora’s box of family ire just to
prove a point.I thought about it last
night.I thought about it this morning,
sitting in the tub.That’s when something
I’d previously written whispered, “It’s
Right.It’s always tough when your own words come back to haunt you.
I came up with a new plan.Hubby smiled when I shared it.The plan was simple, one which offered
choices and essentially put the ball in nephew’s court.After all, how will he ever learn if no one
ever challenges him or points out that life consists of choices and
consequences?Suddenly, my “mountains
out of molehills” sense of guilt vanished.This wasn’t on me.It was on
him. So I sent him this text at 8:31 a.m. this
year for your birthday I’m giving you a choice.Do you…
1.Want a gift
2.Want me to make a donation in your honor to
help a wounded soldier?
choice is yours, but I need an answer by Friday.
If I don’t hear from you, I will make the
choice.Have a good day.
At 8:32 he replied:
Was his answer predictable?Sure.He’s almost 16.But I wanted him
to make a choice.I wanted to discover
if this kid, who spends a couple of weeks each summer on missionary trips with
his Mom, would be charitable when it came to giving up something.I
wanted to gauge where he was on the growth scale.And now I know.
Did my experiment fail?No, because I got an honest answer. Hell, I was impressed to even GET an answer. I even limited my reply to him to, “Okay”.In the
words of me, (see above)‘life consists
of choices and consequences’.
And I never said what kind of gift he'd
UPDATE: Due to the speed with which I received an answer from the nephew, (who has ignored all 2 of the texts I've sent him in the past month), my final decision is he will receive a gift card for HALF of what I intended to spend....the other half is going to our charity. At least I know the soldiers appreciate it. :)
I've come to that fork in the road where being a relative expected to give a gift is about to be derailed by years of being ignored by said Giftee. My only nephew on my side of the family (who's an only child and the only grandchild on our side) is not familiar with the term, "Thank You" when it comes to gifts. Not even verbally. As a small child he simply opened boxes as fast as he could, peeked inside, then tossed it aside for the next box. He was finished with all his gifts (three times that of the adults) in less time than any of us could open one. I've never heard him say, "Thanks."
His father and I were raised in the days of hand written thank you notes for any gifts received from a relative out of state. That meant writing ONE note to the Grandma who didn't live next door. Granted, as the
oldest kid, I wrote more notes...but without prodding. When the nephew was a small child, they occasionally prompted him, but when he failed to comply, they merely laughed and rolled their eyes.
Well, eye rolling is not the way to instill manners.
I've tried being patient. I grew up in a family where birthdays were a big deal: my sis-in-law did
not. They never celebrated birthdays. When I asked why, thinking it might've been because they were
military and away from home a lot, she simply declared they only celebrated Mother's Day/Father's Day. Took every ounce of
me to not gasp, "Really?" I gently shared that when you marry into a family, you generally adopt some of their holiday ideas too. It's called compromise. For me it was easy because Hubby's family was even crazier about birthdays than my family...my Father-in-law went to great lengths to create "Birthday scavenger hunts"...which is how I know which part of their home faces north. :) But my sis-in-law remained unmoved. When the nephew was 3 she told me, "We can celebrate his birthday, but we're not participating in the others." She's stuck to that policy.
I finally stopped sending birthday cards to her and my brother, feeling slightly guilty. But I haven't received one from them in almost 20 years and they didn't even seem to notice. But every year nephew gets a birthday gift and a Christmas gift. And I get....silence.
In two weeks this kid will be 16 and honestly, I'm getting a little grumpy about being the package delivery person.
I understand giving is an act of love. I realize you can't fault a child for what his parents haven't taught him. But I believe acknowledging a gift is an act of respect. How to merge the two to benefit both of us?
I sent him a text last week, asking for Christmas ideas. He ignored it. I'm thinking it's because he's about to turn 16 and is...busy. When I sent a text to my brother (because they don't answer phone calls or e-mail) his reply was, "He's on a weekend trip. But since he ignores our texts, he'll probably ignore yours too." So far, he has.
So, anyone have a suggestion on how to rise above without taking a swing at my brother for raising a son oblivious to the fact that the world is made up of give and take...not just gimme?
If not, I wonder if I can get a good family rate on a bucket of coal.
Thank You Thursday salutes poet Kendrew Lascelles, who wrote “The Box”. Below he recites the poem to commemorate his original reading of it on the Smothers Brothers show during the Vietnam War. For some reason, probably because I was a child, I envisioned an old pirate chest, bound with yards of old chain and a huge padlock.
I can still envision Lascelles, sitting on a stool with a dark background, quietly reciting his cautionary tale of leaving war alone.The lack of bright lights or flashy background made it all the more spine tingling. The fairy tale beginning evolved into a darker tale, like the original Grimm Brothers stories, with a single line:
But someone did.
Someone opens up the lid and the horrors of war come spilling out of the box. Like any good storyteller, Lascelles shares how to fix it, allowing you to discover the answer is YOU are part of the solution.
Viewers were invited to write in for a free copy, which Mom did…along with 4 million other people.It hung in a frame on the wall of my childhood home and effected me in ways I didn’t realize until I became older.I honestly think the power of that single sentence wove itself into my writing style.
This marks post number 1,000. A milestone of sorts, but that's not what makes it the most important one to me.
No, the most important post began on Nov. 4, 2007 and went on for several posts. It was also the starting point for the final journey of the MIA bracelet I wore as a kid. It had always been an important story to me: not just as a writer who was able to put feelings onto paper, but as a little girl who grew up to give back.
After telling someone about our charity for wounded soldiers, the person asked how a civilian kid like me could be so connected to the military. Well, my hometown was home to Shaw AFB and most of my friends were military. At the same age I obtained the bracelet, while on a field trip I had a heartwarming encounter with a soldier who guarded the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I was standing at Kennedy's grave, overcome with emotion as I looked at that eternal flame. And out of nowhere, one of those soldiers materialized, placed a hand on my shoulder and stood silently with me for a moment, before nodding goodbye and walking away. That night I was fascinated by the young couple at the next table: he in uniform, she swept off her feet. My friends chided me for staring at a guy in a wheelchair. A what? I hadn't even noticed it. I just saw the way he looked at her...and hoped for someone like that of my own one day. Wishes do come true. Hubby's Dad was a Recon Pilot who retired in my hometown....and thus gifted me with a husband.
I think the answer is that Bracelet was the starting point. Although it has returned to the son of my Captain, I wasn't ready to let go of the story completely. The actual bracelet was gone...but the feelings weren't.
So I turned it into a book.
A one-of-a-kind, just-for-me sort of book that chronicles my idea
to find the son of My Captain and how that unfolded.
It includes e-mails sent between the son, Gregg, and myself,
his sister's word of thanks...and the photo that finally allowed me to see
who I'd worried about for all those years: My Captain.
The story itself.
Greg's original post on a POW/MIA website that sent me down this path.
The poem that hung on the wall in my childhood home.
A copy has always hung in my office, no matter where I worked.
The last page.
May this post serve as a fitting memorial on this Veteran's Day for all who have served and continue to serve. Still only two words, but truly heart felt:
Thank You Thursday salutes Mr.Know-it-all, affectionately known to other bloggers as the G-man. He hosted a fun word play event called “Flash
Fiction Friday”, in which we all had to submit stories which were no more than
55 words in length. We began to refer to
it as “Friday 55” and at one point it grew to almost 100 participants. I remember quitting after a year…which lasted
about a month and the bug bit me again.
I even compiled some of my favorite stories, (the kind you’re proud of
and wonder where the heck they came from), and self-published a little book. The G-man was like a proud parent when I told
And while I enjoyed creating those stories,
usually out of thin air the night before, with the addition of our charity, my
plate grew too full. Reluctantly, I let my Friday 55 go.
But with Veteran’s Day coming up, I
wanted to touch base with the G-man again, to let him know how one of my blog posts
had come full circle. It was a story I
wrote years ago called, “The Bracelet”, about the MIA bracelet I wore as a kid
during the Vietnam War. That story, and
the journey of how I was able to gift the bracelet to that Captain’s son, turned
into another small book. I just knew the
G-man would be tickled pink to know that although my posts were infrequent,
they still lived on. And I still
wondered about him.
So this morning I tracked down his
blog, “Mr. Know-it-all”. I always
wondered if that title had anything to do with his position as an excellent car
salesman. Anyway, the most recent post
was entitled, “Goodbye G-man”.
To my horror, I discovered this man
who had aided in making me a better writer, had passed away on Dec. 9, 2014. How could I not know that? How could I have stayed away so long? I read through 50 comments to discover he’d
died of a heart attack at the car dealership.
I backed up a couple of posts and discovered on Nov. 20th he’d
decided the time had come to let someone else run the Friday 55
playground. He bemoaned that he’d miss
it, but might even return in the winter.
He ended that post referencing another blogger who had a “Gratitude
Quill”, where people were free to leave notes of what they are really thankful
Oh, the irony of finding that today.
So G-man, wherever you are, I’m sure
you’re large and in charge of some corner of the universe where people laugh
and love…even those they’ve never met.
And I think you'd get a kick out of being my 999th Blog post.
Thanks for bringing a sparkle and a wink to my world.