positivity vs. reality

I ask it a lot to people. “How are you doing?” It has become a greeting of sorts in most settings. It’s kind of funny, isn’t it? I see people ask it, while walking past each other, with no intention to stop and listen for a response. I guess it’s a non-question question. Kind of like when people who do answer say, “Fine. I’m fine.” What they really mean to say is, “Life stinks right now. But I’m going to tell you fine, because I would be fine if we didn’t talk.”

Up front, I am not writing this directed at anyone. So, please, all you folks out there who have gone above and beyond to show love to our family, don’t even think – “I wonder if Jason is talking about me? Have I asked him how he was but not stopped to listen? Did I tell him fine when he asked me and blew him off? Ohhhhh! My day is ruined. I am not sure if I did or not.” Seriously, I am not writing this directed at anyone, so for those who may have even leaned toward thinking that, let not your heart be troubled. 

I’m writing it directed at me.

Last night, when I was getting Dad settled to hit the hay, he was venting to me. I am good with that. We vent to each other. I had asked him earlier how he was feeling. He was answering me. Being honest about how he is actually feeling – physically, emotionally, relationally, about Mom, about guys who drive SUVs without a license, about situations that frustrate him. 

At one point, he was telling me about the pain in his legs. He had mentioned several things, and without even meaning to sound like a “PolyAnna,” I did. I retorted – “At least you can walk, Pop.”

He didn’t appreciate the comment. 

You know, if you ask someone how they are doing, them answering honestly is a good thing. Me responding with a positive, general statement, attempting to fix their perspective to see all the roses that are lying around that they are overlooking, is not a good thing. 

Dad wasn’t not being positive. He was being real. People sharing hurts and burdens is ok. I know that. I encourage it and appreciate it in all the people I do life in.  I didn’t mean to respond that way to Dad. But I did. I apologized. He accepted. We’re still friends.

Here’s the obvious lesson – when you ask people how they are doing, don’t mistake their response of reality as a response of negativity and attempt to fix them. Listen. Look them in the eye. Be there. That’s encouragement, too, and sometimes is enough.

Reality for Mom is this – she is more than likely going to be a “new Retia.” And that’s okay. It absolutely stinks, but it is what it is. I am not thankful that my kids won’t know Ammaw the way she was anymore. I am thankful they will get to know her all over again. I am not thankful that Mom will likely not hold our kids any more. I am thankful they will sit in her lap, though. And I am praying for her mind and body to be as restored as it can be following a collision with a red Ford Expedition. 

Most people don’t move much after that.

We are waiting to hear word on when her cranium piece will be replaced. Therapy continues. Progress is steady but slow. Mom is not eating much and needs to eat more. Her swallowing is getting better and better. Her bedsore has a long, long way to go to heal. Still an inch and a half deep. But it is getting better. 

Not trying to sound crude, but if you want to pray for something that would really make Mom happy, pray she will be able to sit on a potty chair soon. That would make her feel positive. For real.

Love all of you. Gonna take Dad to his favorite restaurant tonight – Drago’s. Gonna take Mom some mashed sweet potatoes from Copeland’s after that. She usually eats most of those. Who wouldn’t?

We’ll post at you later. In fact, I think Dad wants to post tonight or tomorrow. That’s always a good thing.

One thought on “positivity vs. reality

  1. Very well said, Jason. I was with a group of friends one afternoon and one of the moms was venting about some issues her son was having. One of the other moms kept trying to point out positive traits her son has or how she is lucky because things could always be worse – just in general trying to be positive. The mom who was venting finally just blew up in frustration and refused to talk anymore. Later, the positive mom asked me what I thought had gone wrong. My reply, “Sometimes people just want to be real and share honest emotions that might seem negative to others. They don’t want to stay there for long and they eventually need/want encouragement. But, sometimes, for that moment, they just want someone else to meet them there and acknowledge that it is ok. That is just how they feel and there is nothing wrong with them. They just want to be heard.”

    I am continually praying for your parents and your family. You have been there every step of the way for your parents during such a tragic ordeal. Prayerful and hopeful that healing continues.

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