Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Other People's Lives
Strolling around the park today, after the first light frost started to turn the leaves, made me think about how other people's lives tend to look very rosy from the outside. As mine probably does to people who see a happy old lady ambling about in the sunshine not having to be in an office, taking pictures, chatting. And that part of it is in fact rosy -- I am very aware of the blessing of being able to walk at all, let alone for pleasure.
And I'm amused by the library reference man who a couple of years back when I was desperate for internet connection, and had to trail to the libe to get online and get really vital legal and official things accomplished in a mad rush in the 40 minutes maximum allowed, commented, this is nice for you, gives you something to do to help fill your day! having assumed I was a leisurely retiree, I guess, heh.
But when you know the people, you have insight into just what troubles they deal with, and have all the more admiration when they turn a cheerful face to the world. Like our down the street neighbor and old friend, who is the sole caregiver of a wife deep into Alzheimer's who will certainly have to find a placement for her soon, before it kills both of them. But he rarely complains, but would rather talk gardening with me and his plans for next year's tiny garden -- his is even smaller than mine!
And the family next door, teenage daughter valiantly struggling with brand new double whammy of lupus and kidney cancer, all happened in the last few weeks, who is still celebrating Diwali, the feast of lights, and trying to get to dance recitals in the intervals of hospital and chemo. Until this hit, she was an A student, a high level Indian dancer, a violinist, who ran kids programs in the summer.
And her parents, who look decades older than they did a few weeks back, stalwartly affirming that they will manage this, they will have a life, all of them. Their daughter, whose Indian name means Light, is going to have a nice lacy scarf and little artist's blank book for a journal from me as soon as I get the scarf finished. The journal is made already. Just two little thoughts from HP and me, since we just want to do something.
And the great friend on the other side, who is the ultimate optimist. He has had a bathtub standing in his kitchen for two years while he searches for a plumber who can get it upstairs to the bathroom to install it, and remove the old one. All of them have said the only access is via the downstairs ceiling, on account of all the tight right angle turns on the stairs, which has given him pause. Until last Saturday when he got up to find the living room ceiling and a lot of water on the living room floor and a flood in the upstairs bathroom where the &*&*&&*& shutoff had failed.
He was pretty racked up about it when he told me especially since the one shutoff that failed was the only one he hadn't got around to replacing yet. But then he said, with a big brave grin, well, now the ceiling's out, I may as well get M. (local handyman) over to give me a hand installing the tub through it....
He has a very old frail mother at the end of her days in the house, family all trying to take care of her. He's already arranged flextime at work to help with this. And he will come over and help me any time I ask, so I ask rarely, because I don't want to impose. Just not the person who should have to deal with floods and reno right now.
And people who don't know all this see him as a happy go lucky guy whose life is just so cool -- glamorous daughter, brilliant student in grad school, prestigious job of his own, successful wife, pretty townhouse, etc.
Anyway, this is just a little note of praise for people dealing with the hand they've been dealt, and still interested in helping with other people's deals, too.
Little series of pictures in the park:
young man striding around,
old man strolling,
young Indian mother with beautiful baby in sparkly slippers waving them from her stroller.
And remembering that their lives might not be as simple and calm as they look on a lovely fall afternoon, in the park, in the sunshine.