Something perfect is said in surround-sound when someone wears suspenders.
It says to me “Look people, I’m trying.”
Once upon a time, a nice man with a gun came to my doorstep. He was a truancy officer who handed me a summons because my kindergartner’s attendance fell below 90%. She had a seasonal cough which kept her up all night.I kept her home as needed.
He was wearing pants with more pockets then ideas...and suspenders. So how livid could I actually get here?
The summons he handed me said if I failed to attend a meeting with the administrator (the same one whom I called to excuse the absences), I was guilty of a “Class C Misdemeanor”. However, the nice man’s suspenders and gray hair said “Look lady, I don’t want to be here but I’m trying. I’m doing my best.” His jolly attire kept me in the low-key-pissed-off-phase until I closed the front door. Which saved the Medusa inspired rage for when I stormed the principal’s office 10 minutes later.
I hope when someone sees me sport my hoodie for the 7th day in a row that they choose to think good things like “She is so smart to minimize laundry that way.” She is trying.
I hope when people smell me from a mile away after a solid sweat session that they choose to think “Golly, good for her getting her workout in.” She is trying.
I hope when people see my muddy faced kiddo, they can see the pink cheeks, bright eyes and smile caused by an afternoon romp in the outdoors.
Yesterday, I watched my neighbor lovingly roll his wife in her wheelchair down the ramp he built for her. Her hair was undone but her face was pointed upward, drinking in the sun. With great effort, he maneuvered her chair down the ramp so she could feel the warmth all over her frail body. He was wearing a church shirt...
He was trying. He had taken his small corner of the universe and, with intentional tenderness, beautified it for himself and for his sweet wife.
A decade and a half ago, John and Dorothy came to church with their 2 year old granddaughter.
Dorothy was a member of our Christian church. John was Catholic but came with his wife occasionally.
The first time I met them, Dorothy appeared fidgety and John was wearing suspenders. She didn’t stand or walk easily. She had disheveled hair and was chasing a toddler. She saw me, haggard and winter worn, towing my kid in her footsie PJs to church at the same ungodly morning hour on a Sunday. She witnessed my Sunday circus and saw a kindred spirit.
We were both trying. A friendship was born out of our mutual Sunday efforts.
One Sunday, she said “God don’t care what I look like. He just cares that I’m here.” I wholeheartedly concurred with that statement but wondered why she saw herself as anything less than stunning. Dorothy had the most beautiful skin, fit right in my arms at a solid 5 feet tall and her smile lit up the room. Her 60+ years of life had made her gentle and lovely. My 25 years of life that far had made me clunky, like a pair of high school Doc Marten's that should've gone to Goodwill. I asked her why she was concerned about her look. She confided that, because of her arthritis she couldn’t do her hair for Sunday. It just hurt too much. Hence, the bed-head hair style.
And yet every week, she came. She was trying and it was humbling to witness.
That frigid Park City winter something perfectly warm happened. Baby Bella and I would go to Dorothy’s house on Saturday’s. I would do her hair (not well I might add but I can wield a curling iron when provoked). Her granddaughter and Bella played at our feet. It became a tradition that saw us through that long Park City winter.
I got way more out of this experience than she did. I learned something beautiful about the power of trying.
1.Assume that people are trying their best. It’s a happy way to live (also the quickest remedy to road rage).
2.Loving people where they are and how they are allows you to really know who they are.
3. Miracles happen when you notice the little things, listen and act.
That winter, a deeply seeded desire grew within me. It whispered truths about the life I wanted..one that chooses to look for the trying.
A truancy officer, a loving husband, a tender neighbor…..I wonder if others just noticed the summons, the bed-head, the wheelchair….or the suspenders.
I see the trying.
And it makes my world a beautiful place to live.
My Grandpa. I love the way he sees the world.