Here at Too Hot Mamas, Carolyn and I have ever-so-humbly dubbed ourselves the Lucy and Ethel of Menopausal Motherhood. (If you had any idea how many whacked-out schemes for one thing or another my blog mate comes up with on a near daily basis, you, too, would suspect Lucille Ball of staging a walk-in.)
But Carolyn is in Central Oregon roughing it with her kids’ school, and I…well, dear reader, I am not feeling funny today. Hey, I can laugh at a toothache, but as my hilarious Great Uncle Henry used to say, “Some things ain’t funny, Magee.”
My last blog touched on the extraordinary grace under fire of one of our neighbors. Since then the nasty stuff hit the fan in another neighbor’s life when she awoke to an intruder who assaulted her, brutally, in her home. The police caught the guy, but will the judicial system keep him off the streets? Will she find the peace that defies understanding and feel safe in her home again, or out of it? Will the children who usually run up and down our block as if it’s Mayberry be allowed to play as freely this summer?
And then, on Tuesday, I went to juvenile court to support a friend who has raised her granddaughter since the child was born while her parents struggled with meth, domestic violence and parole violations. For five years, this grandmother’s refrain regarding her granddaughter has been, “If I do my job well, she won’t realize [how much chaos and fighting surrounds her].” Being the eye in the storm can’t have been easy, but the five-year-old is a happy, stable child, as innocent as she should be at her age.
Juvenile court—whew. Stay out of there, if you can. For what was probably no more than thirty or forty minutes (but seemed like hours)—we watched this lovely five-year-old’s fate be tossed about by a bunch of lawyers whose chief agenda appeared to be Don’t Bother-Me-With-The-Facts-I-Have-A-Case-To-Win. I watched my friend attacked as the wicked interloper instead of thanked for her love and devotion. Yeah, so much for that pesky commandment about honoring our parents.
My Uncle Henry had a tough life. Thirty-five major operations beginning at age three, cancer more times than I can count, heart disease, went blind for a time, broke his back, yadda yadda. None of his siblings made it much past sixty. When Uncle Henry was ninety, a waitress (he loved to eat out) asked him if he’d lived in Los Angeles all his life. “Not yet,” he deadpanned.
Uncle Henry was the happiest person I’ve ever known. Like any Jewish fellow worth his salt, he knew how to grieve heartily, how to bemoan the fact that bad things happened to good people. He was not shy about asking, “Why?” But he had a philosophy of life that was as much a part of him as his brown eyes, and he taught it to us in everything he said and everything he did: Life is hard, kinderle. Now go play.
A mother dies, leaving three young children…. A woman is attacked in her home in the quiet area she trusted…. A little girl may lose the only stability she has ever known and face an uncertain future….
Life is hard. Sometimes it’s bitterly hard. But in the midst of it all, there are people willing to be God’s hands here on earth. On Sunday night, eighty people gathered around the home of the young mother who lay dying on her forty-third birthday. With candles lit and their voices raised so she, her husband and children would hear them inside the house, they sang Happy Birthday.
Life is hard. Now go play.