Laughing is Good for Me- Part 8/Making a Difference

I had six stories for the laughing series. I decided six was too many for one post so I’m putting the last three stories into this post even though I expect this one to be significantly shorter than Part 7.

***

My daughter put a microwave oven in my apartment in the senior living facility when she fixed it up. I haven’t had a microwave oven since I found paint chips in my food in my old one. When I looked in that microwave oven, I saw chipped paint on the top.

I hadn’t used a microwave oven since then, except when I stayed at a friend’s house in the summer of 2020. Using one then reminded me how convenient it was to use one. So I wasn’t totally opposed to having it, especially since I knew wouldn’t be cooking on the stove top.

I had friends that objected though and suggested that I get a toaster oven which is what I have at home. They were even willing to go out and find me one. I was surprised when the one they bought was smaller than the microwave oven and since the kitchen has very little counterspace that was especially good.

I had been using the microwave oven to heat eye compresses so they put it on top of the refrigerator and plugged it into the same outlet that the refrigerator was plugged into.

I had second thoughts about that, and checked the Internet to see if it was okay. When I did that, I discovered that nothing should be plugged into the same outlet as the refrigerator. I was not surprised and had somebody unplug it for me. Later, another friend said my microwave oven was now a fly-proof storage unit.

I’m not used to being in Seattle for Christmas. For the last 30 years, I have been in India for almost all Christmas seasons. So when I fully realized I wouldn’t be going there, I wanted to get some Christmas presents, I wondered where to put them in the small studio apartment.

When I looked around, I noticed the microwave oven on top of the refrigerator. I remembered the friend commenting about it being fly-proof. It also would not be where anyone would look for anything and it certainly would not be used for cooking, since the plug and cord were hanging loose on the side of the refrigerator. So that microwave oven truly became a fly-proof storage unit!

***

Satvamrita became a brohmachari (monk) in March 2020. He received a new name at that time. (Before that he was named Sreejit, a name given to him by Amma when he was 15.)

His new name was much harder to remember. Al, his father, still called him Sreejit when talking about him (since Satvamrita was in india).

After Al had a stroke, Satvamrita came to Seattle to take care of him. Al wanted to say the new name correctly but he couldn’t, and so in his confusion used other names. The most common name that he was now calling my son was “Karuna,” my name! So Satvamrita heard “Karuna” many times a day.

On December 29, I came to Seattle for a doctors appointment. There was still snow on the ground.. Afterwards, since it was two blocks away, the friend who drove me and I went to Al’s apartment for dinner. I hadn’t seen him since before he had the stroke.

We didn’t stay long for a variety of reasons. Among them was the fact that between dealing with the snow, seeing Al, and the doctors visit, I was totally exhausted.

Satvamrita walked us out to the car. As we left the apartment, I needed help getting my walker over the edge of the doorway. I looked at my son and called out to him, “Al!” He looked at me shocked, “You too???” he said.

I thought that mistake was pretty funny and am still laughing about it.

***

I was awake from 1 to 3 AM two nights ago writing this last piece of this post in my head. I cried during part of it. I wish I had actually written it down because what I remember isn’t as complete as what I composed during the night. But it’s close.

One of the first things that happened after his stroke was that AL wanted somebody to notify all of his Facebook friends. That request was fulfilled.

One of the people that he notified was a friend that he used to work with and they had a large box of ice cream delivered to his apartment. There were 6 different kinds of ice cream in it.

Al goes to sleep about 5:30 in the evening now and he often wakes up throughout the night. One night, at 3 am Al called out to Satvamrita in the next room, “Does anybody want ice cream?” “No,” Satvamrita answered. A few moments later again Al called out, “Are you sure.” “Yes,” Satvamrita affirmed. Al had already had ice cream twice that day. Hearing the silence that followed, Satvamrita got up and brought the smiling Al some ice cream.

For some reason, I thought that him asking for it at 3 am was really funny. More importantly, the incident shows how people can make a difference in someone’s life by something that is as simple as sending/bringing them some ice cream.

Because of his stroke, I have realized what a difference Al has made in my life. In the late 1960s he protected me by sitting all night with me at a pier on the Seattle waterfront after I had missed my college dorm curfew. In the 1970’s, we attended concerts by Tina Turner, James Brown, War and others. Later we raised two wonderful children together, even after we were divorced. The hard and painful times that occurred back then are no longer important to me.

Before his stroke we talked on the phone every day for months. I know he was frustrated that he couldn’t do more to help me through my illness but those phone calls were a big help. I’m feeling a similar helplessness that I can’t make it better for him now, but am so grateful that our kids can help him.

This contemplation is giving me an opportunity to reflect on how many other people have made a difference in my life: Amma, my children, my friends, my spiritual community, my colleagues, my clients, my neighbors, and the staff and residents here in Woodinville. And I know I have made a difference in many of their lives as well.

I believe that the next moment is not in our hands. I don’t know whether Al and I will live for a few more days or 10 or more years. What I do know is that our friends and family are pitching in and helping us. They are making a difference. And I appreciate them more than I can say.

***

This post didn’t turn out to be the short one I visualized when I started it but it turned out to be an important one.

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