03 August 2007

Moments That Matter

On the radio yesterday, they (Wisconsin Public Radio, the IDEAS network, something like that) were promoing a program called "Moments That Matter," which is probably just little stories about people's lives, a la This American Life or Storycorps, but the host who was promoting the show kept talking about how poignant the topic was when the moment that mattered could be the extra red light you hit or the elevator you missed that kept you off the collapsing 35W bridge in Minneapolis on Wednesday. So, right now, in my head, "moments that matter" has a bit of a depressing connotation. I am glad, though, that my brother-in-law had a moment that mattered that kept him from being on the bike trail under the bridge when it collapsed. That's how he gets home, or at least it was, until a bridge fell in the middle of the bike trail.

ANYWAY. I've had a few moments that mattered in the last few days.

1. Seeing Zeke. He is living with my mom in Oregon, so I only get to see him when I'm there (averaging once a week, lately). After his surgery he seemed to be doing better, but now he's failing again, his back legs are all weak and wobbly and his poop is really dark which indicates that he's bleeding internally again. He's been the only constant in my life since 2002. Now I'm trying to prepare myself to lose him... no easy task. I absolutely cherish every moment I get to spend with him, and I never leave without kissing him on the face and telling him I love him.

2. Yesterday I was in Madison, sitting at a stoplight on a bridge over the Beltline, listening to NPR talk about the bridge collapse and feeling just a tiny little bit of anxiety about the bridge I was on, when I looked over at the schoolbus next to me. The driver had pulled the door open, and he caught my eye, smiled a huge smile, and gave me a thumbs up. It made me laugh, and forget my worried little heart.

3. Also yesterday, Megan and I drove to a restaurant called Bunkys, then drove to our dad's house, then to our mom's. It was really nice to talk to her, for real. There are certain things that only your sister understands. I feel bad for only children, because nobody else in the world understands quite how mentally ill your parents are as your sibling. It looks like I'll be driving with her out to Portland, so then we can have six million hours of chatting time, and by the end of our drive we'll probably want to punch each other in the face. Which is how we were for like fifteen years straight, so that's okay.

4. Today I was getting gas in Huntley, IL, and while the gas was pumping I walked toward the store to get a soda when this little old lady called me aside. She was very short, but very well dressed and no more than 70. Probably more like 65. She asked, "Is anyone going to come out and help me?" She seemed lost. I looked around, as if some gas station attendant might be coming out at any moment, but then determined we weren't in Oregon and/or the 1950s. I shook my head. "No," I said, as kindly as I could. The lady seemed desperate. "Oh, please, could you help me? I don't know how." I know what you're thinking -- seriously, WHAT? Who doesn't know how to pump gas? But being the teacher that I am, I agreed and told her that first she'd have to pull her car up to the other side of the pump, and showed her where the gas tank was on her car. She was so flustered. So she pulled the car awkwardly across the space between the pumps, almost hitting a car full of old people who knew how to pump their own gas in the process. I showed her how to press the credit card buttons, how to select her grade of gas, and then stood around awkwardly while the tank filled up. She told me her name was Terry. She told me that her son usually takes care of all this, but he was in California. She had to get her hair done and realized she needed gas (which I doubt was true, because the car only took 9 gallons to fill). She thanked me a million times. I've been thinking about her all day. I wonder what her story is. How do you make it to 2007 without knowing how to pump your own gas? I guess she represents a whole different era of womanhood, where women just expected to rely on men their whole lives. And though I tried to teach her how to do it for herself, I'd be willing to bet that she'll be at the same 7-11 next time her son's out of town, cajoling someone else to pump her gas for her.

5. I got an email from a talking chimp. Man, that cracked me up.

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