Friday, January 18, 2008

To the Rescue

Did you ever see the movie, Lovely and Amazing? It’s the story of a woman and her three daughters dealing with self-esteem issues. Elizabeth, the daughter who is an aspiring actress, has a dog thing. She has to rescue them. She lugs one dog home, totally missing the signs put up by its family, begging its return, it needs its medicine, or it will die. One dog bites her face, leaving a nasty scar that derails her acting ambitions.

What Elizabeth has for dogs, I have for old ladies, which is how I ended up with some responsibility for a great-aunt who has had a major talent for driving folks batty. A life long habit, carefully honed over eighty-nine years. I have proven no exception. Did I tell you she never acknowledges what I do for her, but often blames me for the loss of her life before the nursing home, while extolling the virtues of the good nieces, the rich nieces, the way-out-of-town nieces? (These nieces are great women. I happen to like them a lot myself. Still, I'm here. They're not.) I am fairly thin-skinned and over the past year, I’ve often felt what skin I do have is being ripped off. It has made me very cranky. When one of my friends, knowing the upheavals my great-aunt had been through, said, “Bless her heart,” I snarled back, saying, “You’re blessing the wrong heart. I’m the victim here.”

You might ask why I am doing this? My husband has often asked the same question, but has come up with his own conclusion about me: See a windmill and she shall tilt. My reasoning is that there is no one else to do it. That, and there must be some cosmic lesson I am supposed to learn from all of this. That, or I need to develop a thicker skin for my next incarnation.

I was particularly dreading the day I had to requalify her for Medicaid. Medicaid has stringent requirements, including keeping receipts for everything, and she had insisted on handling her own finances this past year, and a few things were totally screwed. Also Medicaid was requiring documentation from her bank that her bank said they could not legally provide. The night before this auspicious day, my dog kept me awake for hours. By morning I hated her—my great-aunt, not the dog. My dog likes me.

This was not the feeling I wanted. A tiny thought came to me. I would spend the day being an emissary of God. Don’t ask me what God is, because you know It’s All and Love and Is, and being God’s emissary, that’s a pretty spiffy position. And there’s more. Not only was I God’s emissary, everyone I talked to was also God.

I was batted between great-aunt and nursing home and bank like a badminton birdie, but I just sat back and enjoyed the show because God’s emissary is powerful. You don't make the rules, so you're not responsible for making things happen. You just have to be present. Plus, you are there to represent God and you wouldn’t want to show Him up in a bad light. And the person across the desk or the room? That’s God, too, talking to you. God is on your side, so it’s best to listen instead of making waves.

The day went like butter. Bureaucrats and clerks jumped hoops to help me. I also had time to have lunch with a friend, take her shopping and get back to my own town in time to get my car inspected for a road trip the next day. Everything that needed to get done got done, and when I stopped by for the last time to speak to my aunt, she was prattling on in her batty way about better nieces than me when she paused, looked at me and said, “I really appreciate everything you’ve done for me.” I’m an approval slut. I loved it. By the time I reached my own little house, I was floating on the beauty of one glorious day.

Now this I know. Being an emissary for God worked on this day, and I wanted it to work always, but I know enough to know very quickly it would just become a ritual to ward off evil, a magic trick, not a resting in the heart of God. Still, the day after the Medicaid mission, I was in the car, going to the big city with another old lady (old being at least twenty years older than me). She was being difficult about some minor point, adjusting the car seat, or where we would eat lunch, when I looked at my friend and remembered I was God’s emissary. Suddenly love flowed from me to her, love and more love building, a river of love, an ocean of love, a universe of love, an eternity of love. It didn’t seem to be of me, but instead moving through me, and washing me as it flowed. At that moment I relaxed. I was officially off-duty and really happy.

Emissary of God. Great job. Terrific benefits.


Nicole said...

Thank you for that. Do I need to fill out an application? I think that's the job I've been searching for all these years. Funny how I can sit here with this profession of peace and just stew to no end with doubt in my ability. Guess that makes me the control freak in this story. :) *sigh* I'm going to be an emissary of God today. After the morning so far, it's clearly the role I must accept, with love.

Camellia said...

No application. Just intention as far as I can tell. Hope your day improves.

Mrs. G. said...

This is perfect story for me to read today. I am dealing with a very difficult elderly aunt and I am absolutely her last hope...all other family members have died or abandoned ship. After our weekly visits, I drive home beaten and exhausted and promise myself that that is it. I am done. And then I get back in the car and go the following week.

Could you shunt that ocean of love my way?

Camellia said...

coming at cha', Baby. Always. And not from me. From the Boss.

Mary Alice said...

Wow. Beautiful. So simple and yet so complicated most would never think of it that way. I love it. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Such a great post, such a wonderful reminder. I will quit trying to be my mother's daughter, and try to be an EOG instead.

Keetha said...

Oh, goodness. I just love your take on this. As you well know, I too have been puzzled by your bottomless patience and willingness to take on the role you have with the aunt. But What a wonderful way. I'll be re-reading this often.