My Grandmother Gave Me the Finger

Posts 04

Have you ever come across something so startling that you did a double-take? This happened to my recently. My grandmother gave me the finger.  On social media no less.  To be fair, I knew immediately that she did not intend to comment to a Facebook post about my family with an obscene gesture.  It was an accident.  She is in her 80s and her eyesight is not so good these days.  She thought she was giving a “number 1”.


This was the second crazy social media reaction I saw that week.  An elderly family friend gave a thumbs up symbol.  Her “hand” had brass knuckles.  Not what I was expecting from a soft spoken Southern lady.  And therein lies the question.  What WAS I expecting? Certainly more decorum than that!  I was so shocked/entertained that I immediately called my mom to share the story.  Our expectations are a huge influence on our experience.  These emoji gaffes were contrary to the behavior I expected from these ladies.  It got my attention.


It can be difficult to get our attention these days.  24-hour news channels bombard us with “breaking news”, our phones constantly ring and ping and otherwise alert us to activity, and even our doorbells can talk to us now.  We have come to expect it.  This has become normal for many of us.  It exhausts me.  I am also aware that I usually expect myself to stay plugged in.


I’m the first one the school will contact when my son breaks his arm.  The hospice nurse calls me when my father-in-law has a problem. In fact, because of my nursing background, I field a lot of phone calls from people concerned about extended family.  Fell while ice skating.  Had a tick bite.  The baby won’t sleep.  Does my daughter have strep throat?  And don’t even get me started on the statements that begin with “Mom, I need…” a ride, a snack, help with my homework, a new tube of toothpaste, and so on.  I feel the weight of all those people depending on me.  I don’t want to fail anyone.  This is the lie I believe sometimes.  I need to be here for others all of the time.  If I’m not there to take the call, get the text, answer the door…then something really bad could happen.  Such an inflated sense of self-importance.


When our attention is centered on the what if we lose focus on the right now.  Sometimes the what if is very important.  It can be a nerve wracking wait for a phone call about biopsy results or it can be anxious anticipation for parents waiting to adopt a child.  Frequently though, the what if is much more mundane. What if I don’t make it to the grocery store before dinner?  What if I forgot a load of laundry in the washing machine yesterday? What if I let my preschooler wear the wild outfit he picked out and everyone thinks I’m a bad parent?


We spend so much time and energy trying to meet expectations while losing focus on what we value. I get that this is real life.  Clothes must be washed eventually or we literally air our dirty laundry to the neighbors. How about we turn the what if around?  What if I pay attention while my son enthusiastically talks about Minecraft for 30 minutes?  What if I stop what I’m doing when my husband comes home and give him my undivided attention for a few minutes?  What if instead of staying plugged in via phones and computers I stay plugged in emotionally to the people that I love?  What could happen if I commit to putting my loved ones in the right now and quit worrying about all of the extra stuff?


“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  – Maya Angelou


I hope that I will make people feel loved and respected. Valuable and treasured.  I still need to work on putting aside outside expectations and focusing my attention where it needs to be.   Easier said than done. Even as I have carved out this time for writing, I have been interrupted upwards of 10 times and my thoughts are competing with music drifting out from my son’s room.  But this is my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


My youngest (age 11) learned a lesson today about expectations and attention. We were running errands and I had to stop by a shoe store.  He was less than thrilled and eager to leave.  Things were taking longer than he wanted because I had to place a special order. When it was finalized I looked at him and proclaimed, “You’re free!” He flashed a huge smile and ran toward the door. He expected the door to open.  But it was one of those double doors often seen in the front of stores and one half of it was locked.  He hadn’t paid attention or proceeded with caution. He slammed into the glass.  The sound was painful.  All of the other customers and the sales associate stared at us in shock. They hadn’t expected it either.  Thankfully my son wasn’t hurt and he didn’t break the glass. But there is a lesson here that is bigger than don’t run into glass doors. It is important to stay in the here and now even when it seems unexceptional. Perhaps especially when it seems unexceptional.  For most of us, these ordinary moments add up to the bulk of our lives.  If we are always looking to what’s next or worried about the unknown then we are losing out.  Time is the one resource we can never have more of.


Breathe by Anna Nalik has this lyric that speaks to me:

“Cause you can’t jump the track, we’re like cars on a cable,

And life’s like an hourglass glued to the table

No one can find the rewind button now

Sing it if you understand.

And breathe, just breathe.”


“Life’s like an hourglass glued to a table.”  That imagery stopped me in my tracks when I heard it.  Mostly because it’s true.  Once the sand falls to the bottom it’s gone.  So here’s to living life like every grain of sand counts.  Because it does.  Smell the freshly cut grass.  Read a bedtime story. Laugh with a friend. Hug someone who needs it.  Live your best life now.  Psalm 118:24  says, “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  If you’ve been distracted like I have been, refocus your attention on the important things.  Wrong expectations and misdirected attention can take away our joy.  Let’s reclaim it.  It’s there for the taking.




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  1. Nicole Busler says:

    I absolutely love this! Thank you
    Amy from my heart for connecting
    us to the truth in such a splendid
    way!! Breathe…..

  2. Mary Ellen Volansky says:

    This was reassuring, thanks.

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