Falling down

“So if this goes well, how much of the credit are you going to take?” my husband asked me the night before a Very Important Work Event.

“I’ve had a lot of great folks working with me. It was a team effort.”

“And if it goes to hell in a handbasket?”

“Well, then that’s my fault.”

He eyes me. “I want you to think about that for a few minutes.”

Spring is the season of new hope, of gonna-get-it-right-this-time.

Fall is the time for evaluation, for looking at what went right and what didn’t. Deciding how much of the bad gets owned, and how much is neither my circus nor my monkeys. How much of the good was hard work and how much was right time, right place, right people.

With this messy process going on in my head, I met an elderly gentleman and his wife.

He went to law school at my alma mater, leaving the West for the East, and then brought his education back to fight for equal rights for women. As you might expect, we had a good long chat. He’d done amazing things with his life. He’s made a mark.

His wife of sixty years watched us with calm indulgence, listening to the stories she’s heard a thousand times. She was there when they were written. I’d have loved to hear her half of it, of the late nights and missed dinners and the distance that work like that can drive between two people. About patience and love and how to cope. I didn’t get the opportunity.

When it came time for them to leave, I shook the gentleman’s hand and thanked him for his time.

“Thank you, young lady,” he said. “You do very important work here.”

the things he’s done and he thinks I do important stuff?

Then his wife had her say.

“It’s good to see the young people,” she said, clasping my hand briefly. “It’s good to see things going on.”

I pressed her hand in return, gently because of the knobby joints and skin thinner than paper. “Yes. It’s encouraging.”

She smiled and left on her husband’s arm, and I was left with an unambiguous sense of benediction.

I will take this year seriously, but not too seriously. The good was good, and the bad… well.

I won’t have genuine perspective until I have more chips to count.

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