Archive for February, 2011

Lucky Guy

Blessings Be

This column first appeared in the February 2011 issue of Forsyth Family Magazine:

When you have a hole in your heart, Valentine’s Day can make you squirm, and, for many years, the day was a blot on the Underwood calendar.

Given that Valentine’s Day lacks the spiritual gravity or historical significance of other holidays, I had some luck with hunkering down and pretending that it was a bogus holiday that could be safely dismissed. Still, some extra sadness would manage to wiggle its way into the day.

As my early 40s became my late 40s, it looked as if my lot in this particular life was not to marry and have children. I worked on accepting that, and, thanks to being blessed with good friends and family, I had some success with that. My 50th birthday came and went.

And then along came Garnet, Sparkle Girl and Doobins. By the time my 55th birthday arrived, I was a married man with two wildly entertaining children in my life. This being real life, certain aggravations accompany my new circumstances. Sometimes, when I’m fuming about something and Garnet’s sense of humor remains intact, she will laugh and say, “And, to think, you used to be all alone.”

For the most part, though, I am stunned at my good fortune. Every so often, I will be doing something mundane such as standing at the sink washing dishes while Sparkle Girl cuts out the comic strip “Mutts” because she thought it was especially cute that day, while Doobins jumps and swirls around the living room battling foes in his imagination and while Garnet sits in her favorite chair writing in her journal, and I will think, “Of all the places in the world I could be right now, there is no other place I would rather be.”

Even when all doesn’t go smoothly, a sense of well-being underlies daily life. As the saying goes, “We must all eat a peck of dirt before we die,” and spoonfuls of dirt continue to be delivered in a timely fashion. There was the day, my mother, well on her way toward disappearing into dementia, yelled at me for trying to tell her how to get into the car. There was the day we had to take His Dogness to the vet and go home without him.

At times when I am perturbed, I might find myself thinking about Garnet, Sparkle Girl and Doobins being there and feel odd — almost embarrassed — noticing that, even when aspects of life are in disarray, I don’t feel nearly as bad as I would if I were on my own.

I say all this in part to express my gratitude for the gift I have been given and in part because I hope that someone for whom Valentine’s Day is a bothersome day will be reminded that you just never know. One day, your biggest worry is that the half-and-half will go bad before you use it up. Then, people show up, and, before you know it, the day comes when it dawns on you that, even if everyone stays on schedule, you’re going to be 71 by the time the last kid finishes college.