Every morning, on my way to work, I say a prayer. It’s not a proper prayer. My hands aren’t folded, and I’m not kneeling at a pew or my bedside. I’m driving, so my eyes are open. (I mean, I believe in guardian angles, but that’s just asking for trouble.) Still, it’s a prayer. I have a routine that I go through; my family: Mike, mom, dad, brother and his family (another Mike, Alison, Niki, Blake, Logan, Cole), sister and her family (Alaina, Lou, Peyton May), pets (I could name them, but this would turn into a book); my work life: students, coworkers; and practically family (friends): Iny, Greg, Sam, Target Jim, Julie, Matt, Becky, Dustin, Jo Ellen, Bob, Erin, Nathan, Tony, Stephanie, New Jim, Bridgette, Old Jim, Hillary, John, and Nicole. (Too many Jims.) I pray for happiness, health, and safety for all of these people. I pray for a positive day, and more. You get the idea.
Although it may seem like a lot, as I mentioned, it’s a routine. So, when I start my prayer, in my head during my drive, my brain sort of goes on autopilot, and it really only takes up a few minutes of my drive. In fact, my brain goes in such an autopilot mode, that I realized I barely think about it anymore. I just say it. I realized this today, when my normal programming was commercially interrupted by a brainwave reminding me of someone who needs to be added to my routine. Adding or subtracting someone is such a pain. It takes like a week of conscious thinking until I really get it down, and then I can go back on autopilot. Ugh, conscious thinking! …But, this person really needs to be added.
It’s sadly ironic that my Aunt Tina, of all people, should have such an illness. Aunt Tina, who is a vegetarian. The health nut. The gardener. Aunt Tina, the animal lover. The volunteer. The every-Sunday-church-goer. Aunt Tina, and all her five feet of fury, who still commands a noisy room at the sound of her booming voice. The Frankie Heck/Patricia Heaton look alike. Aunt Tina, with her loud, distinctive, happy laugh. Her shoe box brownies. Aunt Tina, who would be happy to show you that she can still do a one-handed cartwheel at any given moment, even in her fifty-something years of age. It’s no wonder God is considering “Jefferson-ing” her. I hate to sound cliche, but it just seems totally unfair.
So, at the very end, I add my Aunt Tina in the mix of my routine. I pray for her to make a quick recovery from her surgery, and for the spots on her liver to come back benign (they don’t). I pray for her infield to be strong, and for us in the outfield to be supportive. I pray for her to beat her cancer, and I really hope that she does.
Last year I lost my last grandparent. I lost my Papa M. I’m officially grandparent-less. It was really hard for me to say goodbye to my Papa. It was just before I bought my house. He would’ve loved to see it. I tried to show him, during one of his last days. We came for that… last visit. I showed him my pictures, told him what was in each one, described the ugly wallpaper in the best possible detail, and told him our remodeling plans. He was unconscious, but, I like to think that he heard me.
Although it was heartbreaking to lose my last Papa, it seems like a natural thing. He was ninety-something. He had a good, long life, and, sad as it may be, I feel like grandpas are supposed to be something that you say goodbye to. Losing a grandparent is the first experience with death a lot of people have. It’s sad, but it’s something that you’re supposed to go through.
The thing is, now that they’re gone, who’s next? Family hierarchy would dictate that parents, aunts, and uncles are next. It makes sense. Some of them are grandparents. Well, I’m just not ready for that stage in The Lion King’s circle of life.
Besides, Aunt Tina isn’t a grandparent. She still needs to see Ryan, her oldest, get a girlfriend. She still needs to help Dylan, her youngest, get to college. She still needs to go wedding dress shopping with me. She still needs to meet my Whiskey! She still needs to bring her shoe box brownies to all of the family occasions. She’s still got a lot to do.
So, every morning, on my way to work, I’ll put my request in with the Big Guy. I’ll just ask, humbly, and honestly, “I know she’s awesome, but please don’t take her yet. We’re just not ready for that stage.”