Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Simply Splendid

I learned a lot from my Granny, long since gone the way of the world. In her later years age reminded her of her frailties, her aches and pains that never seemed to let her alone; she taught me something of real value. Granny would listen as folks around her complained about their lumbago, their teeth hurting and this that and the other. When they’d ask how she was feeling, “I’m simply splendid”, was her favorite reply. It did away with the competitive conversation to see who had a worse case scenario and cleared the air for more upbeat exchanges. Granny could smile and mean it; “Simply splendid” was a mind trick that got her past those aches and pains.

I get to visit Raine, a “little old lady” who goes to church with us. I think I was drawn to her because she reminded me so much of my Granny. I tried getting Raine to use Granny’s “Simply splendid” approach, a way to roll past the never ending supply of folks who’d ask how she was feeling. Somewhere between her knees troubling her all the time and ankles not supporting her with any degree of confidence I was unable to convince Raine that she could, with any believability, say, “I’m simply splendid”. Oh, she tried it a few times and almost fell out of her chair laughing at such a preposterous line; but eventually that line ended up in the scrap heap so I have to listen while she goes on about how rotten she feels; almost wishing I’d never asked.

This morning I was driving down the road toward a job and managed to get her to pick up the phone, a mild miracle since she doesn’t like answering the phone; might be a stranger, a wrong number or somebody trying to pay their water bill since her number is similar. She sounded cheerful, at least until I told her so; a few minutes of going over how it’s flu season and how it’s important to avoid contact with large groups of folks who might have the flu or some other communicable disease brought me up to speed.

I did manage to bring up some calendared items that she might want to attend; this weekend is Stake Conference, an adult session this Saturday at 7:00pm, “No, I won’t be going to that.”, then on Sunday the Stake officers will be addressing everyone at 10:00am, “No, I won’t be going to that.”, oh, and Friday is the Ward Chili Cook off at 6:00pm, “No, at my age I can’t eat all that spicy food.” I waited half a moment, still trying to get something positive to happen.

“I suppose that this last item, the bungee jumping from the top of the church steeple is out of the question?” I finally found something she wanted to do as a burst of laughter rang back through my phone. I had succeeded in my quest to brighten up her day. Sometimes it takes a ridiculous suggestion to make a dent when somebody is intent on being miserable. I still think she’d be better off with, “Simply splendid”; it worked so very well for my Granny.

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