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Monday, July 12, 2021

Bright Neon Yellow Shirts: Day 13

This article of clothing is now my favorite sight when I am out. The wearer may look a little bit bedraggled, and the t-shirt will have smudges on it; that is one light color and hard to keep clean, but it is a signal to my mama's heart now. Almost to a one, this will be a working guy or gal, outside in every sort of weather you can imagine. Many are engineers on construction sights or water lines, others are the labor force in those same places. My kid is a combination of the two and I am super proud of him and the work he is doing all across the country these days. 

I learned about the required color when we went shopping before he took off on his first mission a few months ago. It is an obligatory safety standard now required by OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, so everyone anywhere near a road or any sort of construction project must wear it. It is just one of the "caution colors" but the most widely available one, there is an orange version, a green version and, according to my research, but not my experience in shopping or noticing, a magenta one too. (I'll be on the look-out for that one!)

They are worn because of regulations and as a badge of honor. "Yeah, I am out here making sure that you have clean water, the electricity is running and that this building gets done in time for the winter. I am honoring the contract and the trust placed in me, no matter what the conditions." As I have watched my son take off for a project 12 hours from home on a Sunday, work in rain, cold one month and in 120 degrees under rafters for three weeks straight, I have prayed for his safety, wished him well and developed great admiration for his strength and resilience.

If I am waiting in line with a bright-yellow-shirted individual, I might ask what line of work they're in, or glance out the door to see what kind of truck is parked and waiting for them. I am beginning to know which kind of vehicle might be doing what now. I travel for work as well, so I meet many in shops along the highways. Even if I do not say "hello" from shyness, I am sending really good vibes your way if you are out in your dusty boots, work pants you hope won't rip today, and your fluorescent safety shirt. And I am thinking of my own child, hoping he too is safe and happy.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Day 12: Being Ill and Getting Better

This should not have been a year in which we take our good health for granted, but that is the definition of human nature; eternally optimistic and very forgetful of unpleasantness. There I was, caring for my kiddo who had managed to get what the doctor labeled a "summer flu". What the heck?! Is that even a real thing? He was down for the count; fever, sore throat, aching all over, clogged nose and cough and I was concerned. I did the usual; encouraged fluids, rest, made soup and tea, and he recovered little by little, with no major concerns. This was not, after all, COVID, nor strep or any sort of infection. Just a little virus (ahem).

And then it was me. I got up on Monday morning, not as easily as normal (I am a morning person, so by 10 pm, you can find me in a sleepy heap somewhere, but 5 am is perfectly glorious on most days.) I decided the bathtub looked like a really good place to crash, filled it with warm water and did not get back out. Well, I eventually got back out, shivering and aching and wondering how in the world I was going to do my job today, an hour and a half drive from home. I was not. That has only ever happened once before. I found a sub and went back to bed until noon, or five or six, I do not recall. 

You honestly believe for a day or two that you will never function again the way you did, say, yesterday, for example. But when you are very fortunate and it was simply a bad bug; strength, health and a will to move return, like a miraculous cure from beyond (that's what one child used to call the other world only she could see, where, according to her 2-year-old self, she lived before, when she was a big brother). Yes, just as odd, the return of good health when you felt like the end of the world was very near. I am humbled again and grateful, and I will not take good health and the strength to get up and do what I want to get done today for granted again...or at least not in the very near future. 

If you are suffering, from illness or pain or a condition that leaves you not up to your optimal self, I am sorry to hear it. I know that this is the daily reality for many people, and your fortitude in the face of these obstacles is an inspiration to the rest of the world. This is not to romanticize your stark reality in any way, just to say, I see you, I see you. I see that like the rest of us, you are living the life you have before you today to the fullest, in spite of so much more standing in your way. Those few days of feeling truly atrocious do not mean I completely understand or can even imagine what it is like to live with an illness you have been told is terminal, a chronic condition or the uncertainty of whether or not tomorrow you will be functional, but it does build some empathy...and admiration for the courage you exemplify.

Lift a glass/mug with me and remember to celebrate how you feel today, bad, great or in between. Each day, it is our attitude that can be changed, even if our bodies are not cooperating. May today include optimism, some joie de vivre and a smile for something, someone, some reason, small or grandiose.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Day 11: Adult Children...and Visiting!!!

Such a joy I have to share today! I am visiting my eldest kiddo in Chicago. This one somehow managed the thing schools tell parents and kids cannot be done without a perfect GPA, the right classes, the right combination of test score and school activities...TOOT, TOOT, TOOT for homeschooling, (just a warning)...that is to say, homeschooling all the way to college, going to college, and on to grad school with brio. I am so glad she has been free to shape her life the way she sees fit and that she is also sailing Lake Michigan in her free time, having a blast. 

And mama gets to hang out for a few days with her...I feel like inserting a little heart emoji, I should have tried writing this with an i-pad so I could draw silly things; I am that happy. 

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I found the emojis! Thanks, Blogger!

The entire apartment building seemed to know that I was coming to visit and repeatedly texted Cate yesterday, offering to take care of me while she was at work. Are you kidding? I got an afternoon to my lonesome in which to write, read and gaze out of the window at a city. No care-taking needed! I met them last night, all as fun and welcoming as she had described. 

During the afternoon, I grocery-shopped from an app and had supplies delivered. After she was home and changed, we cooked dinner together; salmon, quinoa with mushrooms and garlic, a little green salad with a vinagrette and a glass of rosΓ©. Cooking for two is so radically different than cooking for five or six, especially with the appetites of the two youngest boys. It was easy and relaxed and fun.  She told me all about her three jobs, we exchanged court stories (she is a third-year law student) and we talked about home and France and family there. It was so good to be able to give undivided attention to one child at a time, the way that only seems to happen at 1:00 in the morning at home, when someone is awake because they can't sleep. That is when the quiet of the house lends to good discussions, it is also, unfortunately, not when I am my best listening self. I try, because these moments are precious to me, when a kid is given to quiet sharing of hopes, dreams and sometimes worries. But here we were, prime time and just the two of us. So very nice. 

Today is my first ever sailing on the lake outing...I can't wait. I'll try to snap a few photos to share while we're out. The weather looks to be perfectly marvelous; a high of 80, some sun, some clouds and probably nice and windy. This lake is always windy. Wishing you all "Bon vent."