I don’t know exactly why I awoke at 2:15 that October 3rd morning, but it was one of those awakes that you don’t go back to sleep from. I was just awake. Eyes open, staring at the dark ceiling and listening to the ceiling fan tick as the blades spun and the pull chain tapped the glass light fixture. I tried to close my eyes and just be still, but that didn’t work. I guess that I kind of knew what was going to happen next.
The phone, almost expectedly, rang about 15 minutes later. It was my mom telling me that my grandmother, my dad’s mom, wouldn’t make it through the night.
She had been ill for a long time. She hadn’t eaten a meal since the Thanksgiving prior. She nibbled every now and then, but she just didn’t have much of an appetite. She was in pain and she said that eating made it worse. When my mom called again a short time later to let me know that my grandmother had passed, there was sorrow and sadness, but there was also relief. At least the hurting was over.
She lived in the same small town as my family when I was young. I could, and would, ride my bike from my house to her house at least 3 times a week. My brother and I used to cut her grass, she lived on what seemed like a half-acre lot, with a push mower for $5 total. We did that until my brother got a job at the hardware store, then I pushed the lawnmower around the yard and kept the $5 for myself. Then I picked up Ms. Whitaker’s yard next door. Same size yard, but I charged Ms. Whitaker $10. When I picked up another yard, I was bringing home $25 every two weeks! I was the baron of Hanover Street in 1982.
My grandmother was widowed in 1974 and lived on a fixed income of my grandfather’s pension and Social Security. She was comfortable, I guess, but she didn’t waste money.
She loved to cook and she was great at it. She often had some type of roast on the stove or in the oven. I stopped by one day to find her in the kitchen waving a dish towel over a smoking pork roast.
“What are you doing?” I asked
“I burned the roast, Jammy”, she answered.
She set the burnt roast aside and we visited for a few minutes, then I left. I stopped by her house again the next day and she was eating lunch.
“What’re you having?”
“Roast”, she answered.
“Oh, did you make another one yesterday?”
“Nope. Sometimes I just have to eat my mistakes.”
It’s been 15 years today since she passed, but “sometimes I just have to eat my mistakes” lives on. I say it to Jack when he puts too much butter on his pancakes. I say it to myself when I mess up or get stuck on a project at work and starting over just isn’t an option. I just have to work through whatever boondoggle I’ve created.
Mistakes aren’t fun, but they are useful – unless you throw them away and don’t learn from them.
Thanks for stopping by. Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to smile!