Not long ago I wrote a post about something I’d learned from my Grandmother Hunter (whom I don’t recall ever meeting). Today, my sister (one of; “She has altogether too many sisters”) and I were talking online about a number of things—like sisters do once they get going… I started thinking about how life lessons are learned, well, throughout one’s life. They all come together—refusing to stay in separate file folders of the mind—to make us who we are.
After that platitudinous remark, I wish to write up an addendum to the lesson I learned from my Grandmother. This one is from my dad, Willard Wall.
When I was a little girl I had a hard time sitting still in church. My dad said I would turn myself inside out while he tried to hold me on his lap to quiet me. He resorted to bribery. If David (my just-older brother) and I would sit quietly throughout the meeting, he’d take us to get an ice cream cone at 31 Flavors afterward.
Guess who won.
And who didn’t.
(David, I suspect, had the capacity to be a little Mary Ingalls when the need arose.)
My dad brought David home, sporting his ice cream cone, and made sure I saw it, whereupon I stuck my tongue out at my dad. (And probably fled.)
This was one of my dad’s favorite stories. He told it throughout my life. The lesson I learned comes from this: he told one of the ladies at church and she was horrified, said something like, “And you let her get away with it?” (Pretty small potatoes compared to what kids get away with now.)
My dad laughed and replied, “I knew exactly how she felt.”
So, how does this go together with the lesson from Grandma Hunter? After my grandmother hung up the phone the second time, she laughed.
And I can imagine her saying, “I knew exactly how she felt.”
I want to resist the urge to EXPLAIN here, but for my own sake, I’d like to sum things up. Stating the obvious might help me to avoid getting hurt in the future.
This probably never happens to you: someone on Facebook says something I don’t agree with. Being me, I like to express my opposing (not meaning to be hostile, just … well … I never learn) viewpoint. Oddly enough, I don’t think beyond what I’ll say to HOW it might affect the receiver. (Does anyone? I need a life lesson in this!*) The person gets offended and lets me know.
I’ve become a good apologizer (good offenders should hone this skill), so I readily apologize whenever I can. But once I offended someone so thoroughly—even after apologizing—that she unfriended and blocked me. In fact, it was the day after I wrote the Grandma Hunter post. Even though I was trying to laugh about it, but not AT her, it still hurt.
Yeah, no, I don’t think I could have avoided pain there. But it does help to say to myself, “I knew exactly how she felt.” How could the memory of pain be suppressed? So, once again, I laugh, heal, and then share the bittersweet story.
*Life Lesson, courtesy of Ma Ingalls, found in Little Town on the Prairie, “If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek, five things observe with care: to whom you speak, of whom you speak, and how and when and where.” Hmm, “that don’t sound right, Ma.” (“Doesn’t sound right, Carrie.”) The poem needs an addendum: “And how it may be received,” but that really messes up the verse.