Gratitude for Ordinary Days
By Debby de Carlo
Every Monday and Wednesday after my class ends at noon, I enter an enchanted world. I arrive at my daughter and son-in-law’s house just as Chris gets home from work and with my grandson in tow. “Nonna!” my 5-year-old grandson yells, running to me.
Inside the kitchen, my son-in-law makes lunch for his son, while I am bombarded with news and questions. “Look at my art projects, Nonna! Nonna, what is that red spot on your neck? Nonna, what are those silver things in your teeth? Nonna, how does the tooth fairy get in the house?” By the time I’ve answered the questions, Chris has prepared lunch for my grandson. While he eats, his father continues preparing food, now getting all the prep work done for the evening’s dinner. By the time my grandson is finished with lunch, his father has chopped two onions, grated 3 cups of soy cheese and made bread dough to rise. He’s efficient, and patient, too, fielding some of the rapid-fire questions from his son.
I am reminded of the last scene from Thorton Wilder’s Our Town. Emily, who has died in childbirth, relives her twelfth birthday. Then she rejoins the dead. As she looks back, she says, “Goodbye world! Goodbye Grovers Corners…Mama, Papa. Goodbye to clocks ticking…and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths…and sleeping and waking up. Oh earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.” Sobbing, she asks, “Do any human beings every realize life while they live it? Every, every minute?”
Of course, life isn’t just about clocks ticking, Mama’s sunflowers and a visit from Nonna. Just ask anyone in
, citizen or soldier. Or my friend whose grandson is gravely ill. Jimmy Stewart, playing George Bailey in the classic movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” becomes so depressed by financial reverses that he almost takes his life. A second-class angel, Clarence, helps Bailey see the rich blessings in his life by showing him what his town would be like if he had never lived. Bailey finds his mother runs a boarding house, his brother dead at 11, his wife a spinster, his children unborn. The experience leaves him praying for his life, problems and all. His prayers are answered, his changed perception evident in his happiness. Iraq
My daughter, a teacher, sees children every day in her classroom: children whose parents are loving and present; children whose parents are in jail or too strung out on drugs or alcohol to offer any kind of stability to their children. Around the world, children are dying of hunger, dying of preventable diseases, dying from contaminated water.
My son-in-law puts dinner in the refrigerator. “OK,” he says to my grandson. “Time for a tooth brush and a story. Do you want Nonna to read or Daddy?”
“Nonna!” my grandson exclaims. He knows I’m not available every day for story time. He is secure in the knowledge stories from Daddy can be counted on every day.