I have literally at least 1500 letters to send out this week, but you know what I’m going to do instead? A blog post. I haven’t written anything for some time, and there’s no big hurry on those letters anyway.
I’ve been thinking. A few weeks ago we had a retirement social at the COB for a lady who has worked here for 20+ years. Her boss did the obligatory eulogy – people here like to call these socials “viewings” and refer to the talk as a “eulogy” because they are just that funny, and that old. While talking about the dearly departing, he said that he had never known her to have a bad day, to be grumpy or out of sorts, to say an angry word, blah, blah, blah. I thought to myself, “I don’t believe it.” And I still don’t. It’s not that I’ve had an encounter with this woman, I haven’t, it’s just that I know better than to think that anyone can get through 20 years at a job without a bad day. I haven’t gotten through the last 20 days without losing my cool. If a girl were to believe that her coworkers are models of perfection while she’s at her desk cursing under her breathe, she’d have the stuff of a huge guilt complex, and I don’t like huge guilt complexes. They get uncomfortable after a while.
But still, there is some honesty when a person gives that kind of praise. I think that at times of parting, or when a phase of our life is over and we look back on it, our minds automatically remember people with kindness. The bad stuff is cut out. That's a real blessing, isn't it? It's a wonderful ability we have.
Sometimes I think that the things I’ve put on this blog about my childhood on the farm are so idyllic, when the truth is that I whined about weeding the garden and hauling water and shelling peas and all of that work every day I had to do it. Farm life is difficult. Mom and Dad struggled against bad weather, sick calves, and poor crop and livestock prices just to make ends meet. It was hard. But now…now, while I’m still aware of the bad days, I think more about riding with Dad on the tractor, and following him while he used the tiller so that I could feel the cool, new dirt between my toes, and loving the smell of the air at night. It was so good, so that’s what I talk about. And besides, you don’t want to hear me still crying about having to pull weeds all day, 30 years later.
So the next time you’re in church, or Relief Society, or somewhere where a person is being praised for being a great mother, wife, coworker, friend, don’t compare that person to yourself and feel guilty. We’re all human. We all have our flaws. We’ve all said things we shouldn’t, and we’ve all had bad days. It’s just that the bad days don’t matter as much as the good, so they get erased from the brain over time. And really, no one is going to talk in sacrament meeting about all of the times her mother screamed her head off at her. That wouldn’t be appropriate.
A good part of life is choosing what to keep and what to throw away, including memories. Fortunately most of us choose the good.