This time of year is so busy for me.
The October/November/December and April/May/June months keep me running, covering several stories a day most days, some of them at night, and then typing them too, but it pays off in the summertime because I get lots of time off to be with my family.
When you mix in all the other “stuff” that takes place during a week: sports, scouting, church, and work-related or school-related meetings, it gets crazy. Sometimes at the end of a day, my body is sore and my legs hurt, as if I’ve run a marathon, even though it’s just daily running around.
I’m sure you can all relate. I know I’m not the only one running ragged.
This past week was one of those weeks. Everyone seemed to have everything. There were nighttime meetings and unexpected doctor appointments mixed in. By midweek I was exhausted already, and we had a big weekend ahead.
I happened to be looking at my calendar for the end of the week and noticed that somehow I’d written two meetings at the same time for Thursday night at 7:00. I looked and looked at the calendar page (yes, I still use a paper “planner” type of calendar) and I tried to figure out which meeting I should attend.
One of them I’d skipped last month to be able to attend the other, so maybe I’d go to the one I’d skipped. But then one of them had a pressing event coming up that we needed to talk about. Maybe I should go to that one.
All of a sudden I noticed that at the top of that day’s block, I had written “Grandma Rose’s Birthday” in big letters as well. Mixed in with interviewing the mayor, seeing a student council sworn in, Girl Scouts, and two meetings, my Grandma Rose, the kids’ Great-Grandma Rose, was turning 93 years old.
That doesn’t happen every day.
She’s had a rough time lately, recovering from a recent stroke, moving from her home.
I decided that instead of picking another meeting to attend, instead of dragging myself to one more “thing,” I would attend neither meeting and instead, pay a visit to Grandma Rose that evening after dinner to help her celebrate her birthday.
That night, I was running behind in my day by the time Don called after work to check in. I had no card, no flowers, nothing I’d envisioned in my head had gone the way I’d planned. But I told him that I still wanted to make this work. I still wanted to make her day with our visit.
He came up with a great idea: rather than flowers, we could bring a party to her: cake, coffee, paper goods, and celebrate for real, right there with her. When I called her that evening, just to make sure she’d be home, she was so happy to hear that we’d be coming for a visit. I didn’t tell her about our “party in a bag” that we were bringing to her.
She was so happy to hear the news. She couldn’t wait.
We arrived at the same time as my parents, my dad is her oldest son, so it really was a big party, with eight of us in her apartment eating cake and drinking coffee, just hanging out all together. We stayed quite a while, but eventually it was time to leave.
It made me happy as we were walking out the door, to hear her say to my dad, “I had a good birthday,” when we left. I knew then that I’d made the right decision, that I’d made the right decision by putting my family first. When we got in the car, one of the kids said, “That was really fun.”
The meetings will always be there, but Grandma Rose is now 93. No one knows what the future will hold.
This week’s events put things into perspective for me. Sometimes we need to remember to slow down, to stop and remember what is truly important to us and make sure that we’re keeping our priorities in order. I cringe to think of Grandma Rose’s night had we not gone. Her apartment was so alive and full of life with all of us there.
I’m glad that her birthday memories will be full of those memories and I’m glad that we too, will have the memory of how we were able to make her night, to make her birthday just a little bit more special, just by choosing her.
Sometimes your presence alone, is the gift.