Photo: A most gracious and glorious gift.
This Friday morning, I need to stop and say thank you.
Thank you to dear bloggy friends, like Zeudytigre, who has been following my journey from afar for a long time and wrote two wonderful posts about surviving her own construction experiences. The story about the process gave me a boost (I’m never alone!) and the after pictures really inspired me (I want to achieve that!). Zeudytigre has a wonderful blog, and she recently launched a writing blog, which you should totally read! Thank you to dear Meredith over at Perfection Pending, who has been following my blog from the outset and has been sending me virtual hugs every chance she gets. And to my very good friend Sheri, who has been keeping me laughing and giving me advice (as she has an old house, too), and letting me pick her husband’s brain about stuff.
I think what I’ve learned in my late-20s that I couldn’t really fathom in my early-2os is that I’m actually not a tank: I cannot carry the entire world on my shoulders, let alone the entirety of my family and our needs. Yes, I know that I take a lot of responsibility for who we are, and how we look, and where we are going and what we are doing… but I know that creating this family, keeping it together, moving into this house, and transitioning this house into our home is a group effort, and there are many, many heads, hands and hearts involved.
The carpenters finished the bulk of the work on my kitchen yesterday. My island is put together, the counters are sealed–my stove is coming today, the hood needs to be put in, the electrical outlets need to be installed (and the lights) and the molding needs to be returned to some spots… but the building of the kitchen is done. I might, with any luck, be able to cook a meal in my kitchen on Sunday. What I’ve loved most about watching these two men, Mel and Rick, put together my kitchen is the pride that they’ve out into their work. I’ve had a lot of fun laughing with them, consulting with them, sharing stories with them, and watching this vision come together thanks to their hard work. I’m grateful for their hands and sore backs–and for the proud smiles on their faces when they stand back and look at the work they’ve done. I wouldn’t have a kitchen if not for those two fine men. The results? It’s a kitchen that I’m proud of… I can’t wait to start unpacking and get cooking.
I also have a working tub in my second floor bathroom. The surprise came at 4pm when my plumber (well, his son, actually, who is also a plumber) showed up at my door. He handed me his Iphone, “dad wants to talk to you,” he said. I took the phone while the man darted away, tools in hand, to my basement.
“This is Kyra. Hello?”
“Hey! You know, I heard from [Contractor] that your dishwasher isn’t coming until next week. I didn’t want to make you wait that long…you know, because you have those two little ones. It’s hard enough, you know? I have a 5-year old, and it’s tough…and you’ve got two of them. So yeah, I sent [Junior] up there to do the stuff with the tub. When you get the dishwasher, we’ll be back to do that. But I didn’t want you to wait.”
Kindnesses abound. I couldn’t thank him enough as I got off of the phone. We weren’t able to bathe the boys in the tub last night because there is still a lot of construction junk in there that I have to move (and then I need to scrub it down), but the goal is to do it tonight. I’m also looking forward to a good long soak… even though, there is still no light in there…
But yesterday’s greatest kindness came thanks to Rose, our host-mom from our preschool. Rose brought over far more than I asked her for: Homemade hummus, cut carrots and peppers for dipping, chicken and penne with cheese and grape tomatoes, a beautiful spring-mix salad with fresh cut veggies, a square of fresh-baked banana bread, still hot when it reached me, a big tub of spinach soup, clementines and a few extra-dark Lindor chocolate truffles. She told me that her eldest daughter helped cut the veggies. Her twin boys, who are Ursa Major’s age, helped make the hummus and otherwise consulted over the details.
I gave her my carton of green eggs from the farm, thanking her, though not as much as I wanted to as there were men running around my house demanding my attention. She was in and out in a flash. But after she left and after the men were gone, I went back to the Costco-box tray filled with fresh and healthy food.
And I cried.
And I prayed.
Because I didn’t know what else to do.
When I served it, Ursa Major pretty much ate his weight in hummus, munching on the carrots and smiling. Ursa Minor wanting nothing but pasta…until I broke out the banana bread…
And as I wrote a few hundred words of my draft last night, I popped one of those truffles in my mouth. It was delightful.
I don’t think that my writing skills are adequate enough to express how grateful I am to Rose and her family. I wrote an email, I already know what I’m going to cook for her to say thank you (because, where I come from, you never return an empty pyrex), but I know that I’ll never be able to fully express to her what that dinner meant to me.
And most of all, I’m grateful for the lesson: When you say, “yes, thank you, I’ll accept the help,” special things can happen. I’m very good at saying thank you. I absolutely suck at saying “yes, please, I’ll accept your help.”
There are no muffins in my oven, and there is no smell of coffee wafting up my squeaky stairs…. but today is a better day than Monday. It isn’t the day I was hoping for, but it is a better day. This house, I think, will be my greatest professor: It will silently challenge me into becoming a more patient woman–the virtue I never really mastered. This is the beginning of a relationship, the kind that will be slow to build but will grow evermore passionate as the years go by. It can only develop through my patient stewardship, my attention to detail, and my willingness to learn and listen every day.
On this Friday, I hope that you’ll think about the village that you belong to–The people who show you love, daily, through kindnesses great and small. Who are the people who bring something special to your life, or take pride in giving you that one thing that no one else can? Who are the people who go above and beyond the call, just to give you relief or to see you smile? When was the last time you sincerely said thank you to a member of your village, looking them in the eye and giving thanks for their presence in your life? During this weekend when we honor the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is there someone worthy of your attention, a kind act, a little time? If you are able to give even 30 minutes of your time this weekend to someone, I hope that you’ll choose to do it.
And when you have time for yourself, I wish you warmth during these cold days. Rays of sunlight streaming through a cloudy sky, or streaks of red and purple as the sun slips beyond the horizon. I wish you healthy food, prepared by skilled and loving hands. I wish you the chocolate notes of a well crafted stout, and hearty bread to accompany it (with good butter melted on top). I wish you a “thank you” from an unexpected voice. I wish you joy and love, and a moment to know that you are, indeed, a loved person. We all are. It’s important to know.
See you Monday. A day that will be better than today.