What is it you do with them?
I think I generally try to stay positive and think about making lemonade. But somedays its hard. Like last week, when I found myself in the middle of a very busy week at work, in immediate need of a new au pair due to unfortunate turns of events, mourning the loss of a dear, young uncle, and trying to coordinate travel plans for a husband, a new au pair, and my own travel to the funeral.
Having a supportive family is helpful. And having work be supportive makes it easier. But last week the only thing that kept me from being a little "woe is me" is the fact that I knew my aunt/godmother was the only one who bore a cross big enough to have that dubious honor.
I flew to the midwest as quickly as I could arrange - got to the wake as it was wrapping up. There she stood, in the traditional black of a widow, but smiling and greeting her guests. Sharing fond memories of my uncle, laid out in the casket behind her.
In my arms, she collapsed, sobbing. I held her and cried with her. My intent was to be strong - but she broke me. It was almost as if she was relieved that there was someone else she could lean on.
The next two days were the same. All of my emotions put to the test, as family members reached out to me to find strength. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I'm the oldest daughter of the oldest daughter. The logical one. The one who has lived through more changes and transitions in the last 17 years than most people see in a lifetime. The one who's stood by her husband as he said goodbye to both parents in the last 11 years.
Suddenly, I didn't have time to worry about the au pair transition. And I didn't have time to worry about work. And I didn't have time to worry about small things.
I sat in the funeral services a few pews behind my aunt. Listened to his family eulogize my uncle. Remembering his favorite sayings like "don't sweat the small stuff." He was clearly a man who had his priorities straight, and the church filled with family and friends was a testament to that.
His oldest son is a pilot, like his father was. He told a story of how his father signed off their regular calls to each other. In planes, there is an artificial horizon indicator - half of it is brown, and half of it is blue. It helps you tell how your plane is oriented with respect to the ground while doing maneuvers. He used to end his calls to my cousin with a cheerful "Keep the blue side up".
This past week has helped me focus. My house is still not fully unpacked. I have things on my "to do" list at work left over from last week. I've got one au pair transitioning out, and one au pair transitioning in. We're still shuttling the good Dr. back and forth between Seattle while we wait for California to grant his medical license.
But at the end of my day, all that should matter is that good people have good memories of a good person. Should I accomplish nothing more than this, I should consider my life well-lived.
Thank you, Uncle Jerry, for a harsh reminder of a good lesson.
Keep the blue side up.