Family Ties

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 4, 2000

Mary Ann Fitzmorris / L’Observateur / November 4, 2000

Today began in the usual way. We drove to school way too fast, my blood pressure elevated, someone looking for shoes in the car.

On the way home I stopped at the Home Depot, where my debit card was declined, and I spent the rest of the ride home chastising myself for using such an embarrassing method of balancing my account.

After only a few minutes it was apparent that the kitchen would come no closer to being finished today, since no one showed up to work on it. My thoughts moved to an elaborate plan to harass the workman into coming to do what he’s been paid to do, just to get me off his back.

While engaged in these devious thoughts the telephone rang. It was a friend with a scheme for springing a cat from the pound, since she regretted having brought it. We spent considerable time rehearsing our roles. (This one deserves its own column.)I was still chuckling from that conversation when the phone rang again. It was one of the workers in our booth at the fair, wanting to know how much more profit we made this year over last. This is purely an ego thing for us, and we dwelled on it entirely too long.

Long enough to spawn a catty interchange about another booth captain with whom we are having a feud. After trading vexations, and considerable sniping and stewing, we moved on to whining about the shortage of willing volunteers.

As soon as that commiseration was concluded I went back to painting my bedroom, which is such a dramatic color it tends to actually shock the eye.

Two small walls were enough to make me reconsider, and I began to second guess my decision. And decisions are not easy to come by!It was just as well that I stopped because it was time for me to go to school for a little ceremony. As I watched the program another parent mentioned her displeasure at how the participants are picked, which is hardly random. I ascended to one of my favorite soapboxes, and we proceeded to count the children who have had the honor several times before. After stirring this pot for awhile the event was over, as was school.

On the way home my daughter uttered her most irritating phrase. “I’m hungry,” she said urgently. As we pulled into the nearest drive-up for her grease fix, I began the shrill harping which seems required in such circumstances. “Why don’t you ever eat at school?” I needle.Tension in the car was already too high when someone unexpectedly pulled in front of me. Stopping a little too short made my son groan from the rear. His chocolate malt had fallen from his lap onto the floor. My overreaction was embarrassing to me only a few minutes later.

Life’s irritants. We all have them.Except for my friend Pat Rossi. For a long time someone else has taken care of her young children. She could never tell you what kids were in the school program, since she was hardly there. She didn’t even think about volunteering at school; that was out of the question.

Pat Rossi had other things to do. She spent her days in an unusual way. In the morning someone would drive her to the hospital, where she sat in a recliner hooked to IVs pumping drugs into her. In the afternoon she would go home and straight to bed, only to get up the next day and do it again.

Pat prayed hard for a miracle. And she got one. Her lengthy illness united an entire community, the old fashioned way. In these days of lives that are way too busy, her laundry would disappear and return hours later, clean and folded. Dinner for the family was delivered to the house by someone different for many months.

The energy she radiated rallied thousands of people to her cause, making the annual spring Relay For Life an immediate success.

Yes, Pat Rossi got a miracle. But it was not the miracle of healing. My friend Pat died today.

And suddenly everything else in this column seems shamefully trivial.

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