Thursday, July 29, 2010

I took my mom to the doctor today for a follow up visit. She hasn't been to a doctor in years and it's taken a very long time and a visit to the eye doctor to finally get her to start going again. When your eye doctor recommends you go because it looks like the testing indicates you may have had a stroke at some point you go to the doctor even though it's been more than 10 years since your last check up.

She's seems to be doing fairly well though she found out her blood pressure is quite high and she has had to eliminate all salt apart from what's in the food already. This is not a big change for her. The big change comes with the medications and discovering that she also has type 2 diabetes. She is now taking medications that she hasn't ever had to take before. She used to take a baby aspirin daily and a multivitamin. She's got three medications to keep track of and she's somewhat nervous about it. Checking her glucose level daily is something she will have to learn also as well as go back for further testing down the line. Aging is not always a graceful process. Ahhh, were we all fine wines instead of sacks of flesh and bone that no longer stand the test of time. It's good to be able to be part of all this though. Helping her out with these things not only draws us closer but in an odd way it prepares me for my own journey that has not brakes, no U-turn, no going back. I am on a path and I must make the best of it I can.

Several weeks ago I went with my mom on a day road trip. My brother, sister, and I were going to Nashville to hang out with each other and also go to a small record release party for a band called The Choir that we've listened to for years. We wanted to take a basket of Michigan related items to them thinking this would be fun, unusual, and simply a nice gesture.

Something I've been struggling with for sometime now is having knowledge of God. According to my understanding even the demons have a belief in the Creator and it's important not to just believe but to know God. What does this mean? How does one get to know God? How do you know if you know God? I mean God is, well, God and how does one describe God? My understanding of the Father is much different now that I realize how little I actually know compared to when I never questioned anything and was fairly confident in my 'understanding' of God.

While on this trip to gather Michigan things I had time to think about this as well as talk with my mom. It was a beautiful sunny day, not too warm, sporadic clouds billowy enough that certainly they should not have been able to stay afloat crossing the bright blue backdrop, yet there they were. The day itself stirring the provocative question of knowing our Father to the foreground of my thoughts.

Six t-shirts correctly sized were found in Mesick celebrating the annual Morel Mushroom festival. The young woman behind the counter with her baby slung across her chest even asked for a discount when I jokingly inquired if there was a bulk discount for purchases of six or more. The owner asked what they were for and when I told him they were gifts for good people out of state he actually gave me 25% off the total. You can't beat a small town mentality where even someone from northern lower Michigan considers folks from Nashville to be our neighbors. It's just that way.

Driving further north found nothing else of interest so on the drive back passing through a small town we stopped for ice cream. Baldwin is a town that has a very high level of welfare recipients, very few jobs, very few people to work the jobs that are available. One thing it has in it's favor is the local ice cream shop. Jones's makes their own ice cream and has done so for years and years. My mom was hesitant to stop in because the last time she ventured there she claimed the service was terrible and it was not very inviting. The people behind the counter rushed them and were not very friendly. We stopped anyway and ordered two cones. The service this day was excellent, very pleasant, joked around with my mom and it gave her reason to speak favorably of the place again.

Taking our cones outside we walked to the side of the building and sat on a bench there and began eating. I looked across the street at the stores and bars and watched people pass by. Some going for ice cream others going other places. An older gentleman and a boy in his early teens came into view on our side of the street from around the front corner of the ice cream shop. The boy, still walking, looked directly at me catching my eye and asked, "How do you like that, Joe?" A very puzzled expression must have crossed my face as I stopped eating and stared back trying to recognize this boy. Somewhat confused and bewildered, the hair on my arms started to raise as I realized I had NO idea who this kid was, had never seen him before...ever. Yet somehow he called me by name. I stuttered out an answer, something like, "Oh, it's excellent." as he continued walking and looking at me waiting for my answer. He smiled and said, "I'm glad you like it." He and the older gentleman then walked out of my sight around the corner of the next building and I sat there speechless and somewhat shaken. I was very careful to ask my mom this next question, especially how I phrased it. I said, "Mom, what did you just hear that boy say to me?" She answered, " I though he said 'How do you like that, Joe?' and wondered how you knew him." I explained to her that I didn't know him and had never met him in my life.

I tried to rationalize this and come up with what he actually could have said instead. Maybe he asked how do I like "Jones" or how do you like your "cone". Immediately I tried to explain it away and make sense of it not accepting that this incident may have been the answer to what I'd been asking all day. How do you "know" God. And would I know if He walked right up to me and asked me how do I like His creation? It seems the obvious answer in retrospect but at the moment I felt I had to make earthly sense of it. As if to have God actually speak through someone would make me less sane or something. And maybe it has I'm not sure. but I've decided to accept this experience for what it is and not try to make it rational or explained in some way that lessens what really happened that afternoon while eating ice cream with my mother. After all, God has always known each of us, knows us now, and always will. Why shouldn't he ask once in a while about how we are. 

It's quite humbling and very comforting at the same time.


At 9:13 AM , Blogger Shelley Cook said...

I've been reading your blog, Joe. You really touch my heart. This one in particular about the kid calling you by name made me think of something that happened to me last winter. I think I was being tested, and I know I failed. I was walking into our local bank and noticed a pair of gloves on the floor. I was preoccupied and the thought that those gloves probably belonged to the handicapped lady that just walked past me didn't quite make it to the front of my brain so I could fully register it. I walked up to the teller and this lady came back into the bank asking if anyone saw her gloves and I swear she looked right at me. I called out that I noticed a pair in the entranceway on the floor. They were hers. This is a simple, silly thing, but I've heard it said that there are angels walking amongst us, and maybe they test us. For some reason I thought about this for months afterward, because I felt like I failed her by walking past those gloves instead of picking them up and asking if she dropped them. Silly, huh? But for me, it was a test that I won't fail again, and it makes me more aware of how I treat people daily.


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