On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

In December, I wrote a post called “Confessions of a Book Junkie” about my lifelong love of books. After reading about my way of keeping track of the books I’ve read and the books I want to read, my cousin commented that perhaps I was a list junkie as well. Earlier this month I wrote a post titled “I’m Addicted,” and my son said it might be more aptly titled “Confessions of a Co-Dependent.” And my brother, after reading some of my comments on Christian’s posts, said he thought I might be a closet liberal. Maybe my next book should be titled “Confessions of…” Saturday I added another confession to the list.

When I was fixing lunch, I went to the pantry to get a package of lemonade mix. I opened the door and noticed that when David put away the cereal, a jar of peanut butter was in the way, so he put the box on top of a bag of flour where it perched precariously, threatening to come tumbling out, dragging several other items with it. I hate this pantry I thought, remembering the spacious corner closet in our Florida kitchen. It wasn’t exactly a walk-in, but it had floor-to-ceiling shelves. They were tall enough to accommodate a large box of cereal but shallow enough for the contents of each shelf to be clearly visible. What I have now is a cabinet that is 27” wide by 26” high by 25” deep. It has one small shelf across the back and a couple of wire shelves I’ve added across the back and one side. Regardless of how often I organize it, there’s just not enough room. To make it worse, it’s an upper cabinet and, as David frequently reminds me, I’m somewhat height challenged, so I have to get a chair to reach the top shelf or search for things that have shifted to the back.

I retrieved the lemonade and congratulated myself on getting the door closed before something fell out. Then, as often happens when I have a pity party, that still small voice said What exactly are you complaining about? I stopped and thought for a minute. I had a pantry that was so full of food that it was almost running over. I wondered how many families in Rains County were trying to find enough in the pantry for their next meal.

Later in the day, with scissors in hand, I retired to the bathroom to give myself a haircut. In September I wrote a post about cutting David’s hair. I’ve been doing that on a pretty regular basis, because there are none of those low cost shops with a dozen stylists standing ready with clippers in hand in our area. He hates to wait, and he hates to pay the going price for a haircut, so instead of allowing him to sport Shirley Temple curls, I’ve become his barber of choice. I’ve gotten pretty good at it, and he’s easy to please, but he doesn’t tip very well.

The choice of stylists for women isn’t great around here either. I found one lady that I liked, but she only works a few days a week, and I never seem to show up at her shop when she’s there. Another problem is that she doesn’t take plastic, and I never seem to have cash when I need a haircut. All that said, I guess I’m like David. I really don’t like to pay the going price for a haircut.

I’ve gotten pretty handy with the scissors. I have pretty thick hair, and I wear a fairly simple layered bob, so mistakes blend in. It sometimes takes me two or three days to find the errant strands that I missed, and David sometimes has to even up the back, but the results are passable. It’s not one of my favorite jobs, though. The mirrors in my bathroom aren’t set up so I can see the back of my hair without holding a hand mirror. It takes me at least an hour, and by the time I’m finished, my arms and shoulders ache from the contortions and stretches required to reach the hard spots. And then there’s the hair all over me and the bathroom.

Saturday was a normal haircut experience in most ways. As I twisted and stretched and tried to see the back of my head through graduated tri-focals, I mentally whined. Why can’t I go to a salon like a normal person? It doesn’t cost that much, and it’s not like we’re poverty stricken or something. I sounded like Goldie Hawn in “Private Benjamin” when she was marching around in circles in the mud. I want to go to lunch. I want to wear sandals. I want to be nooooormal!” But then I heard that still small voice again saying What about S and B and T and others, all friends who have gone through chemo in the last few years. Some are still wearing ball caps and scarves to cover the hair loss, but all are grateful for every hair, every day, every breath.

I complain about so much: an internet connection with insufficient bandwidth to watch YouTube videos when R and T are worrying about failing eyesight; too little shelf space to put the bargain books I found at the bookstore when B and H are fighting Alzheimer’s and losing their ability to read. I know this is not really a new thought. For centuries, different writers have expressed similar thoughts: I was sad because I had no shoes until I met a man that had no feet. But something about my pantry experience on Saturday made it very personal, and I felt compelled to write about it.

So I’ve written; now what? Will I contribute time or money to Good Samaritans food bank and thrift store in Emory? Will I help support Locks of Love, Taping for the Blind, the Alzheimer’s Foundation? I’m not sure, but for now I think I’ll go open my pantry door and count my blessings.

Comments on: "Confessions of an Ingrate | by Linda Brendle" (6)

  1. Hey, everything’s relative, right? I hate, hate, hate it when people put my toothbrush in one of the bathroom drawers (instead of on the sink) no matter how many times I’m reminded that this is a total first-world problem.

    • I completely understand. Just because it’s not a “real” problem doesn’t mean it doesn’t drive you up the wall. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I’m actually working on a blog post idea tentatively titled “American problems” after a skit on Saturday Night Live and a bit by comedian Louis CK, both of which lay bare the absurdity of our manufactured problems.

  3. Kelly Damian said:

    Hi there! Terrie Wolf from AKA suggested I check out your blog and I’m glad she did! I love your post. I try to always remind myself how lucky I am to have my problems.

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