Thursday, July 13, 2006


I am truly blessed to be surrounded by incredible people. Everyday people. Extraordinarily diverse in every way people. And I am better for having their company.

We have Orkin come and spray for bugs and critters every other month throughout the year (it took us six years before we figured out that we should leave some things to the professionals). Greg, or "Bug Man" as the girls and I call him, is someone that I always look forward to seeing pull into the driveway. He always is smiling and he seems to thoroughly enjoy his job--no kidding. Yesterday I was blessed with his company and I asked him about his summer. He said he cooked 900 chicken wings last weekend for his son's graduation party. He went into some detail about how he carefully arranged them on his five grills and the multiple homemade sauces he prepared when he stopped in mid-sentence. "But if that is all I have to complain about in my life, then, I am truly blessed". I have been thinking about that statement ever since.

I just threw a surprise 40 1/2 birthday party for my husband. Several months of planning all came together in one weekend of putting up out-of-town guests, cooking and cleaning house. I was pretty busy and felt like I didn't sit down for three days. Even though it was a success and everyone had a blast, I was having a hard time recovering from the whirlwind weekend (my sleep and my attitude--no more cooking!) when Greg said what he said in my living room yesterday. If this is all I have to complain about in my life, then, I am truly blessed. To have family and friends, that when asked, are willing to travel by car or plane to surprise a brother or friend, is to have wealth beyond measure.

I have to admit, that I found myself frustrated by our small house in anticipation for the surprise weekend. I knew how many people were going to be here and scrambled to make sure everyone had something to eat and a place to sleep. I kept reminding myself of my grandparents little farm house, half the size of our house, yet the spot where we still all gather comfortably for holidays. If my grandmother ever stressed about food or sleeping arrangements, she never showed it. When my grandfather was dying, he confessed to my mom some regrets in his life. One of them was that he never bought my grandmother a larger house. It seemed so silly when Mom told me, so materialistic! He was dying and we all knew that my grandmother would trade any house for just a few more days to hold his hand. That little house has more love in it than any mansion. I will remember that the next time I grumble about not having enough closet space or find myself checking out the real estate listings in the paper. Love has a way of expanding square footage.

We have a wonderful handyman named Mike. Our house is old, so our need for him has been pretty constant, so he has become a member of the family now. My girls run to hug him when he walks through the door. Today he stopped by to chat since it had been some time since our last visit. He was proud to announce that it had been four days since he had had his last cigarette. I asked him what finally made him do it and he said that he had gotten out of breath one evening which annoyed and then scared him. While he was lying in bed trying to catch his breath, several things ran through his mind. One was a billboard he saw in Detroit some fifteen years ago of a woman trying to kiss an ashtray filled with cigarette butts. "This is what it's like kissing a smoker" the billboard read. The other thing that ran through Mike's head was my daughter, McDaniel, asking me if Mike was going to accidentally set the house on fire by smoking, even outside of it. Never underestimate the power of words--especially those from a child. Some past memories strung together in his present thinking was all it took to quit. He asked us to pray for him to stay smoke free. McDaniel reminded us before dinner to do just that.

While we were entertaining our friends over the big surprise birthday weekend, one of them asked me, "Isn't it amazing how good you feel doing this for Monte?" I lied. "Sure it's awesome" my mouth said as my mind was lying out enough sheets and pillows for everyone and making sure there was enough lemonade and ice tea. I didn't take two simple seconds to let it feel good. But thanks to a bug man and a handyman, I've taken the time, and it feels great. You should have seen Monte's face when he saw everyone sitting in the backyard. I am blessed.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a friend of Gretchen and feel like I know you through her. You are a great writer and I have cried more than once as I identify with the things you've shared on this blog. Keep writing, and keep growing. I think I'll count my blessings today too.


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