They Didn’t Give us Any Dinner!

Okay, so I may have told this story before, but if so, I don’t remember if it was here.  I know I was telling it to a friend of mine today, and she put a spin on it I hadn’t thought of before, and it was an important spin, so I’m going to tell it again.

Back about eighteen years ago, Sacramento was undergoing a heinous amount of flooding.  My father’s mother was alive then, and in a nursing home (a really nice one, actually) and there was actual news footage of the home being surrounded by a moat of water, taking advantage of the low ground and the unfinished parking lot.  
My dad (and we’ve discussed this before) is not really one of those people to take, “No sir, you can’t cross this yellow tape” under consideration.  
He didn’t just cross the hazard tape, he drove his ginormous, primer-spotted post apocalyptic Chevy monstrosity through it, and, because the distributor cap was about five feet off the ground–and the flooding was only about four feet–the car didn’t stall.
So he arrives at the nursing home, wades through the water in his galoshes, climbs over the patio fence and bangs on the sliding glass door.  Grandma opens it up, he grabs a change of clothes, some extra depends, and her medication, and then picks his mother up into his heroic arms and takes her back to the truck.  He puts her in the truck, tells the people still boating out senior citizens that he’s got the resident of room #34, and drives away, where she spent the next week at his house, driving him and my step-mom batshit.  
So anyway, when this little adventure was over, I asked grandma, “Jesus, Grandma– aren’t you proud of your sooper-heroic son?”
To which she replied, “I was hungry.  They didn’t give us any food and I was starving.  Nobody would feed me.”
Now, granted, she was in the latter stages of senile dementia by then, but still.  What’s a guy gotta do to earn a little fucking respect, you know it?  
Anyway– so I was telling that story to a friend of mine (or, well, my aerobics instructor) and she said, “Can you imagine having to live up to that voice in your head your entire life?”
And when I related that story to Mate, he said, “Well, yeah– but we all have that voice in our heads, right?  I know I do.”
I said, “I hope I’m never that voice in your head!” just to get my smile and my kiss, but it did have me thinking.
You know how you can have a thousand good things said about you, but it’s only the shitty ones that stick?  That’s when you’re hearing that voice:  “I know you think you’re all heroic and shit, but seriously, it wasn’t no big fucking thing.  Feed me, bitch, then I’ll be happy!”
But you know what happens when you feed that voice?  It just gets louder.  And louder.  So you need something to drown that voice out, right?
Well, I was hearing that voice all weekend, and it was bitching pretty completely about Forever Promised and how, in spite of the fact that I’ve never taken so long to write a book, and how hard I stressed about making it perfect, and how I gave myself a UTI when finishing the damned thing, my best was just not good enough.  
And then, today, this came in the mail:
Isn’t it gorgeous?  It came, courtesy of a fan, who didn’t just shower me with riches –the card is amazing and handcrafted and there is a little Lantern Moon yarn implement in there– but who fed my hungry soul with her “here, have a feast form heaven” sort of gift.  
And even better?  The letter inside, that said my story had inspired the giver to start a youth group in her church for the young and the disenfranchised.
And suddenly, that little voice, the one who said, “You didn’t do good enough!”  just shut the hell up.
See, I was going to come home and blog about the grandma story, and talk about how I needed to remember that the hero thing is just so much more important than the missing breakfast thing.  But I opened this gift, and it was like a chorus of angels and the goddess herself were saying something even better.  They were drowning out the missing breakfast thing, until it didn’t even exist.
Thank you.  For everyone who has said good things–not just to myself but to a friend or a co-worker or about a movie or about a book– for everyone who has remembered the heroics and forgotten the minutiae, thank you.
And to Giselle?  Thank you personally, for doing good works and reminding me that I was once the kid in the Methodist youth group and not all of that was bad–in fact, a lot of it was really wonderful.  And thank you for the yarn– it’s soft and lovely, and it feeds my soul.  And as for that little suggestion? I’ll get right on that, luv, I promise.

0 thoughts on “They Didn’t Give us Any Dinner!”

  1. roxie says:

    Harry, my jewish brother-in-law tells about the time he was ice-skating and broke through the ice, and would have died if a hero had not appeared, plunged into the frigid waters, and dragged him to safety. His mother tracked down the hero and said, "Are you the young man who saved my little boy from drowning in the icy pond?"

    The young man modestly acknowledged his identity.

    "He had a hat!"

    Some people are often imbedded in their own assholes. When you hear that shitty little critical voice, it's just some asshole speaking.

    Other people have hearts big enough to look beyond their own needs and to address the needs of other. People like you. People like a fan who is sensitive enough to be moved by your truth, and to respond to it as it deserves. Yay AMY! This is breakfast with eggs benedict and and french toast and bacon and sausage and fresh-squeezed orange juice with champagne and a fresh strawberry.

  2. Donna Lee says:

    This is important enough that you should re-run it every year. We need to feel the Thanksgiving feeling all the time, not just at the holidays. My dad was one of those voices but in real life. "that and a quarter will get you a cup of coffee" was how he greeted my sister's field hockey trophy.

    Not me. I am thankful for all the good things that happen to me and I want to make sure I share them and not just the unfortunate things. Thanks for reminding me! (and how cool is it that you inspired someone to do something positive?)

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