Wednesday, April 03, 2013

People's Problems and Family Gatherings

Usually I deliberately write about the pleasant things in our life on the farm.  Occasionally I am more honest and share the less pleasant.  I really have always done this not just for consideration of readers’ feelings—but as a form of therapy for myself.  It makes me happier when I dwell on the good things in life and not life’s problems. 

Sitting in the area Social Security office today, I realized anew that probably everyone—or at least almost everyone—has problems. The office has problems because hours have been cut to 3:00 in the afternoon; we found this out when we phoned the other day. Finally today Katherine had a van driver to take her to an early doctor appointment and she would have time to go to the Social Security office before 3:00 to apply for a new card to replace her lost one.

But this morning, we found out that on Wednesdays, the office closes at 12 noon, which would make it impossible for her to get there by closing time.  So after a phone consultation, she frantically searched and secured all the necessary documents and her signature on an online application we printed out, and I was assigned to go to the office while she kept her important medical appointment.  She had a deadline today with another agency, and she needed the proof she had applied for a card. After I finally found the local office, I was greeted by a security guard who invited me in.

Then he pointed to a little machine, which I punched and it printed out my number 76 for my turn to see a worker. Every chair but one was filled after I sat down. I was very grateful that my daughter had not had to be let down from the van (a long operation) and then to maneuver her chair through the maze of doors to get inside that crowded waiting room.  Since the building was new, I know it had to be wheelchair accessible, but it certainly did not look like it would have been easy for her to enter one door and then turn to enter the second door.

 It was less than an hour to closing time, and in answer to my questioning, my neighbor whispered that the man on an end chair was to be next, and his number was 66.  Every ten minutes or so, someone was allowed to go up to the window, and new people kept coming in.  My question was if they would kick us all out at noon.  But they did not.  At precisely 12:00, the security guard locked the outside door, and I breathed a sigh of relief that evidently the worker at the window was going to see all of us who got there by noon.  There were people there older than me; one kept falling asleep as I wanted to do. There were several young people there too—one of whom had to hire a driver to bring her there and the driver needed to leave before the young woman’s long wait was up.  She only needed  to turn in the papers she had in her hand. (She did accomplish her goal just before the guard locked the door.  I was so relieved for her.) Most of my wait was in deadly silence, but at the end some of the newcomers were more talkative and started conversing.  As they shared with one another, I felt the pain that goes on in so many lives with family’s health issues, sharing custody following divorce, foster children caught in legal tangles.  I also felt their bravery in battling their problems. By the time I had my five minutes with a most pleasant worker, I left grateful for our caring government and for fellow humans struggling with life’s challenges.

We just had a four-day celebration of Easter at Woodsong starting with folks arriving Thursday evening when I had thought they’d arrive on Good Friday.  I had a casserole big enough for a crowd  waiting in the fridge to stick in the oven. Leslie had written she and Mike would be in Thursday, but then she changed the time because they were going to look at a rental house and could not come until Friday.  I thought everyone else had school on Thursday and would have to drive in on Friday. (I did not know they were all on spring break.)  So I planned to do the downstairs beds on Friday morning. Mary Ellen and Brian stay at their new place now when they are down, but all the cousins gather in here at the farm as the headquarters to plot and plan their various activities.  But since all the ones staying here (except for Leslie and Mike) arrived the night before, they had to fix their own beds. I was embarrassed. But that was an easy way out of a job! 

Mary Ellen and Jeannie had insisted they would carry in and prepare most of the Sunday feast.  I had already started the three layer traditional gelatin ribbon salad.  Easter morning, I only put  the ham in the oven and made simple scalloped potatoes as I do this one day a year,

A bunny rabbit cake became as must after little Mary Ellen started it so many years ago at Pondside Farm.  After she left home, I would hurriedly do one, but the girl cousins dyed the eggs and did the baking this year, and the cake was the prettiest we have ever had.  With their other desserts plus my left-over party desserts I dug out from the freezer, we had all the sweets we needed all weekend.  I realized just before serving time that I had forgotten that I always made fruit salad for Easter, so I hurriedly opened up cans and added fresh fruit and that was done. Gerald and I had some that was left over tonight as we watched the softball game in his office.

I started to blog while everyone was here, but I didn’t want to be away from the thick of family things that long.  It was never finished.  So here is what I wrote during the gathering:

Family gatherings come complete with crisis so often.  Usually not major crisis—just normal small life happenings.

For example, Lucky, one of the Eiler dogs was missing.  Cecelie reported he was not in the van where he likes to hang out and hides sometimes.  So kids were on the Gator out searching for him.  Solution:  Oh he was found in the van the second time Cecelie looked.  He had come out of hiding and was finally ready to come out and play with his dog cousins.

For example, after over 11 years with an 85 gallon water heater that rarely ran out of water no matter how many were here showering or doing college laundry, suddenly early in the morning before anyone had used the shower or the washing machine, we were out of hot water.  Hmmmm.  I took a very cold bath. 

For example, I fix three hamburgers for me, Gerald, and Trent who had been sleeping on the couch in the kids’ den. I thought the house was empty except for us three. Then suddenly at 12:30 noon, three more show up---they had all slept late behind bedroom doors—and only one had gone out to breakfast with adults.  They couldn’t have cared less, however, since they are content to find cereal when they wake up or to fix hot pockets in the downstairs microwave.  In fact, the third hamburger was never eaten.

For example, the ice maker acted up and no cubes are available without going inside the freezer unit itself and retrieving them by hand.  With a crowd—uggg!  So Gerald is unclogging it and the frozen up unit is filling up a kitchen sink and very slowly melting.  Very slowly.

For example, Jake, who Gerald has tried to break from chasing cars, evidently has not learned yet.  At least he is limping and making us nervous.

For example, Millie, our newest great grand dog, arrived with Leslie and Mike from Nashville, causing much excitement among all the cousins.  Everyone wanted to meet Millie.  Millie is less than thrilled with country life and does not understand why she is left outside.

Well, that was as far as I got on the blog while family was here.  But let me add one sweet thing that happened on Saturday.  The teens and young adults--I keep forgetting that two more have turned twenty and that we only have two teenagers left among the cousins-- had gone to one of their favorite eateries in Marion, and a lady came to their table and said she remembered being young and having fun together like they were and she handed them a $20 bill and said for them to pay it forward.  When I was being told the story, I was afraid the ending was going to be that someone was griping at their noise and their giggling.  Then I felt such a warm flow of joy that this woman had shared her pleasure with these kids.  I hope she had a wonderful Easter, and I like to think that years from now these seven, who were able to be here this year, will remember this story and pay forward happiness to tomorrow’s kids someplace somewhere in restaurants probably a long way from the farm.

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