Decisions: Learning to Put People Before Logic
When I was 22, it felt like there were decisions to make at every turn. Sometimes I chose unwisely. I tried to make the best, most logical plans. What I learned that summer was that sometimes people and emotions count for more than practicality.
Did you watch the Star Trek movies when you were a kid? My family was really into those. Number 4, where they went back and saved the humpback whales, was our favorite, and Spock made it hilarious.
You see, Spock was a Vulcan, but he was part human. Vulcans calculate their decisions purely on data. They do the most logical thing.
People don’t work that way. Emotions are important to us too, not just logic, and at 22, I had to make my own Spock mistakes to learn when to use which…
For the first week of July 2003, Alan’s sister and mother came to visit me.
They were both middle school science teachers at the time and had waited for school to be out in order to visit.
The funny thing is that three weeks before their visit, I had hosted my first Coffee. There was an excellent turn out, and several women brought wine, but not many drank it. Therefore, I had about four bottles left over.
These were not the yummy fruity, sugary wines like Sarah and Elsie introduced us too. These were the real deal, Merlot and such. That’s not my jam. Coca-Cola was truly my jam, so on my counter those bottles sat for weeks on end.
The Funny, Forgetful Mistake
As I cleaned and scrubbed my house in preparation for the in-law’s visit, I stared at those bottles in sudden panic. Remember, I had only been a member of this family for 10 months.
Oh no!! If my brand new sister-in-law and mother-in-law see all these bottles sitting here, they will think I’m an alcoholic. And that would be unfair!! Because I’m not!!! What to do….what to do…
So I poured all of the bottles down the sink and tossed all the bottles in the trash can and headed to bed. Phew! Crisis averted.
The next morning dawned. I probably slept until noon and then drove to Austin to pick them up. We had an exciting week of activities ahead. Most exciting of all, I was taking them to San Antonio one day. To this day, San Antone is one of my favorite cities. Have you ever been to the Alamo and the Riverwalk? It’s glorious.
Let me tell ya a little more about my two visitors.
They are personable and welcoming, and we always had fun. They are also high type A, responsible women. Amy especially is extremely analytical and cautious. Nonna, Alan’s mother, is very take charge and tidy, but way less cautious than Amy. I’d say the three of us are all quite high-strung, but I was new in the family and I was trying to play it laid back and go along with everyone else’s wishes, though sometimes my own uptight colors showed through, I’m sure.
Also, we all three enjoy talking.
We could have been friends if we’d met anyway, even if we weren’t family. I know. I’m so lucky to have awesome people both on my side of the family and on Alan’s.
After a fun drive back to my duplex, we settled in for a leisurely evening of movies in the living room, watching chick flicks. I sat and wrote Alan a letter during the movies, musing at the way that his entire family falls asleep every time you put on a movie.
At bedtime, I got the dishwasher loaded up, walked to the trashcan, and that’s when I saw my goof. It looked like an entire trashcan full of empty wine bottles!!
What an idiot I had been.
I’d tried so hard to get rid of them, I didn’t even drink them, and yet I’d forgotten to actually take out the trash.
I went to bed mortified. For years, I’ve occasionally thought of that story and chuckled, wondering if they thought I had some sort of problem. Haahahahaha!!
The fourth of July was extra meaningful to all three of us that year, as we sat out in lawn chairs by a local high school, trying to watch the Fort Hood fireworks show. We had terrible seats, but it was Alan and his service that was foremost in our minds.
That year patriotism took on whole new meaning. It touched our lives deeply and personally. As we watched those fireworks, we felt the pride of a mother, a sister, and a wife of a 22-year-old man fighting overseas on our behalf, while we missed him so.
The Bad News Phone Call
The next day we drove down to San Antonio, and it was on our way back from the outlet mall that evening, and let me tell ya, we can tear up an outlet mall, that I got the bad news on the phone.
It was my mom on the phone, and she called to say that my granny died. Granny Mary’s health had been failing for a while.
This was a great loss, and I knew I needed to be there. I did want to be there. My family planned a very quick turn around on the funeral. Two days from the phone call the funeral would take place, and there I was in Texas, with my own out-of-town guests!
What a dilemma
Before this funeral, I’d always thought that funerals were something we do to honor the person that has passed and to gain closure. Family and friends gather together and comfort each other.
Texas was 15 hours from this funeral, and I’d already driven it, so I knew it to be an agonizingly long trip to take by yourself.
I checked plane ticket prices, because I could tell that my family wanted me to come. It would be $500 plus tax. To me back then, that sounded like $5,000 does today. I balked.
That would be completely illogical.
I had teacher school, company in town, and $500 was a humongous amount of money to me.
Who could ever pay that for a plane ticket? Did I have the money? Yes, but I was so used to not having any money at all, as I had just finished my poor college years, it just sounded insurmountable to me, and unwise. Had I become a total miser? Maybe.
Granny was gone. All the plane tickets in the world couldn’t bring Granny back anyway.
I was young, and home felt too far away.
I missed the funeral, and gradually I learned that my family was disappointed in me for missing it. Well, what hurts more than that? Disappointing your family? Youch.
That’s when I learned the true meaning of funerals.
Funerals aren’t for honoring your dead at all. The dead can’t hear you, see you, or appreciate your flowers or giving up an afternoon or $500 to come to their memorial. No, it’s not actually about them.
Funerals are about the loved ones they leave behind.
We go to funerals to show the family that we love them and we share in their loss. The way that family comes together at the time of the death of a loved one is a great blessing, sometimes reuniting families that haven’t seen each other in years.
That’s how I learned that funerals are mandatory.
We absolutely must all stand together and support those we love most when their family dies. People will always be disappointed in us at some time or another, but you don’t have to disappoint people by missing their mother’s funeral.
Just go to the funeral. Buy the plane ticket. Make the sacrifice.
After that mistake, Alan and I have not missed any other of our family or close friends’ funerals. We don’t want to miss that opportunity to show our love and support.
Mistakes aren’t so bad when you learn from them.