Tag Archives: Son

A lesson learned

The past few weeks have been full of family. I spent a week with my mom in Elgin then my mom and nephew visited us for a week (they drove back with me). Clare flew in from Olympia a couple days before my mom and nephew left, then Andrew, who is working in Boston this summer, visited a few days later. This story begins the afternoon after Andrew left.

Clare offered to drive Andrew back to Boston. They left Monday morning and got to Boston by 3:30 in the afternoon. At 3:45 I received a telephone call from Andrew asking me to check his old backpack for his keys. I found them and told him I’d send them right away.

I packed up the keys in a small Amazon box and drove to the post office. I hate going to the post office so I was grumpy about it. Plus Andrew interrupted me from working and I was grumpy about that — I’d hoped to put in lots of hours the first half of the week so I could spend time with Clare when she returned from the Northeast so I was grumpy about that too. Also I was just plain cranky for no real reason.

The post office we go to is about 20 minutes away and traffic was starting to build up. The parking lot was nearly full, so I expected a long line, but there were only a few customers in the building. Three or four workers were behind the counter and I was seen in about a minute by a woman who was sitting down and didn’t return my smile when I approached her. When I explained that I needed the package to be sent “next day postage she asked sullenly, you mean overnight? I said yes. She handed me a cardboard envelope and told me I needed to fill out a form. I took the envelope and form and walked back to the work station but could not find a pen. The woman behind the desk asked me what I was looking for and when I told her I needed a pen she said I could use hers but not to walk off with it. Because I was in a grumpy mood I said that she seemed to be in a bad mood.She said that any time she gave anyone a pen they walked off with it and postal workers had to buy their own. While I filled out the form she helped another customer, but that person had many packages so I went back in line (longer now) in hopes of getting someone else which I did and this person was not at all sullen. She was very nice in fact.

I felt bad for being unkind to the first woman and even thought about apologizing to her, but ended up just going home, feeling bad the whole way home and into the evening.

Fast forward to this afternoon around 1:30 when my phone rang again. This time it was Clare who I’d dropped off at Dulles Airport this morning to go back to Olympia.

“Mom! Guess what I forgot!” she said either cheerfully or nervously — it was hard to tell.

“I don’t know, what did you forget?” I asked.

“My keys!” she said.

“Oh no! Not you too!” I said. (secretly annoyed)

“Can you send them priority like you did for Andrew?” she asked.

I could have argued that Andrew’s situation was different — he was new to Boston and lived in a boarding house whereas Clare lived with a roommate and friend who had a set of keys — but I told her that I would send the keys today.

That’s how I found myself at the post office again on a Monday afternoon. This time, however, I knew better. I picked up a mailing envelope and form and filled the form out as I stood in line. I’d not pre-wrapped the package — but did put it in a bundled up pair of socks so the keys would not rattle around in the envelope. I secretly prayed that the woman that I was rude to (because she was rude to me is not an excuse) had the day off, but no, there she was, sitting in the same spot she sat in a week ago. And as luck would have it, she was the one open when it was my turn.

This time I didn’t try to smile, but was courteous. She started out sullen, but became almost warm by the time I was finished. The fact that I’d already filled out the form was good, the fact that I was not as grumpy as the last time was probably a positive as well. The socks (heavy SmartWool(TM) hiking socks) were too big for the envelope and I explained that I was only using them so the keys would not rattle. She wouldn’t touch the socks but explained that I should take them apart, place the keys in one sock and fold it over and place it in the envelope along with the other sock. They fit, I thanked her and left. This time I didn’t feel bad and was secretly happy Clare left her keys behind.

I think I will save this in my list of life lessons. Just because someone is rude — appearing to be having a bad day — you don’t need to be rude back even though you may want to be.


My Father / My Son

Pile of lettersFor the past few weeks I’ve sat at my [messy] desk, working and feeling a little guilty. I’ve meant to transcribe more of my dad’s letters to his family in my spare time, but I always find other things do do instead. It’s not that I don’t want to type them up, I just haven’t.

They sit, inches away from my left hand and occasionally I read a snippet or two.

He was lonely and wanted people to write him letters:

“I’ve gotten one letter so far, it was from Martha but it’s the only one I’ve gotten so far. By god, I’m not going to write any more until I get a few.”

He wrote about his activities:

“Yesterday morning we had to swab decks in 1 barrack and last night got they got 12 of us guys to swab decks in 3 rooms of the PX, and they are darn big rooms.”

He wanted his parents to send him his camera, he went to church, he talked about the food he was served at boot camp.

Whenever I read one of the letters, or even just look over at them I remember that he was younger than my son is now. These are the handwritten words of my 20 year old father written before he met my mom, before he had children, before he was 21. He was in Navy boot camp during wartime.

My son doesn’t write me letters. He texts now and then. He calls us occasionally. We communicate on Facebook sometimes. But he’s only in college and not heading off to a possibly dangerous situation like my dad was.

I guess I just wanted to say that it feels strange to be able to read my father’s words when he was younger than my son. It puts a whole different perspective on things. Before he was my father he was someone’s son. Just like my son will be someone’s father. Not earth-shattering news by any means. Yet it certainly shakes me up a bit.


Eighteen years ago today my obstetrician said I could get out of bed and stop taking Terbutaline.

Eighteen years ago today I got up, showered, dressed and drove to the obstetrician.

Eighteen years ago today the obstetrician said the baby could come at any time.

Eighteen years ago today I stopped at my favorite greeting card store to buy thank you cards.

Eighteen years ago today I felt the unmistakable onset of labor in the middle aisle of the above mentioned card store.

Eighteen years ago today I quickly paid for my purchases and drove home, occasionally wincing in pain.

Eighteen years ago today I called my friend, Frances, and casually mentioned I was in labor.

Eighteen years ago today I finally called my husband and told  him we were going to probably have a baby very soon.

Eighteen years ago today I packed a bag for the hospital.

Eighteen years ago today I made dinner, but didn’t eat much, if anything. My husband ate though.

Eighteen years ago today I called the neighbor who’d promised to take our daughter when I gave birth.

Eighteen years ago today we finally called the doctor, told her about the contractions. She said we should go to the hospital.

Eighteen years ago today I checked in to Alexandria Hospital.

Eighteen years ago today I wanted to watch Murphy Brown on TV instead of giving birth right then.

Eighteen years ago today the doctor showed up and grumpily delivered our son at 11:11 pm.

Happy Eighteenth Birthday, Andrew!