Now THAT’S gratitude

Yesterday, Dad asked for some wrapping paper. He wanted to cover a cardboard box on which he was displaying a poinsettia. My sister and I were headed out to shop after waffles, so when we got to Meijer’s, we looked over the selection of Christmas wrapping papers, and chose a nice stripy paper we both felt was very masculine AND attractive. Then, amazingly, not only did we remember to BUY the paper, I remembered to PUT IT IN THE CAR (a crucial step which raises the odds that I will remember to do things by about 87%), and then, finally, I remembered to TAKE THE PAPER IN WITH ME (I can’t tell you the number of times I have brought something to take in, and then forgotten to take the item in with me). Got it? THREE things I remembered to do. I was very proud of myself, and imagined Dad’s gratitude at the prompt service and his admiration of the pattern chosen. I entered his room, handed him the paper, and he looked up at me and said:

“OH NO! You brought me a whole roll of paper?!” [tone saying: "you idiot!"] Turned out he just wanted one piece FROM a roll–a mere scrap–that was the exact right size for the box, which I had no way of knowing, of course. My mouth opened to say, “What you should be saying is ‘thank you’ (school marm that I am)” and the first two words came out. Dad didn’t hear me, and–good job, Kathy–I swallowed the urge to correct him and at the same time bop him over the head with the roll of paper. Instead I pointed out that he could use what he needed, and I would then remove the remaining paper from his room. These are the moments when I have to remind and remind myself that it is his anxiety that caused him to react with horror when all that paper was handed him–what if I wanted him to use ALL of it?! Where would he store it? There might be overcrowding and WASTE! Also I needed to remember that he is in his ninetieth year on this earth, and in honor of that, I can suck it up instead of blowing up. And that he has thanked me many times for what I do for him; I can deal with this irritation.

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2 Responses to Now THAT’S gratitude

  1. Helga says:

    This is a valuable lesson for all of us, regardless of who we’re dealing with. How many times have I WISHED I had bit my tongue? too many!

  2. lindamortensen says:

    I always wonder if people of your dad’s generation feel that way about things, too, because they lived through the Great Depression. I think it was more or less a moral failure to waste anything. Granted, anxiety rears its ugly head, but I wonder if this adds to his anxiety.

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