Heidi March 8th, 2009
Ever since I heard this great talk about righteous family traditions during General Conference last year, I’ve given a lot of thought to the kinds of traditions we want in our family and then tried to start them.
For example, one thing that’s been swimming around in my brain for a while is community service.
I’d love for us and our children to be actively involved in serving those around us.
So then I racked my brain and tried to think of a way for a pregnant mommy and a sweet little one-year-old to start doing that.
And then I started noticing things…..
Like the elderly man at Costco who lit up like the noonday sun when he saw the Bubbers king sitting in my cart.
And our elderly friend from church who never stopped smiling at Bubbers when she spent the afternoon with us.
After that, I realized the Bubbers king would be a great volunteer at a local assisted living facility (i.e., nursing home).
So, I took us in and signed us up.
And now we go in once a week to walk around the facility and eat lunch with the residents.
And after lunch, I walk the Bubbers king around to every table to say, “Hi” and give high fives to every resident.
And so far, the Bubbers king has been so great and patient and eagerly shares his contagious sunshine with them all.
But I have to say.
I was not prepared for what happened this last week…..
Bibs and “Bubbles!”
When Bubbers and I first sat down at our table this week, I noticed that the two elderly women sitting across from us were wearing large cloth bibs.
Uh oh, I thought to myself.
And sure enough, no sooner had I noticed it then the Bubbers king noticed it, too.
“Huh?” he said with interest and pointed across the table.
Then he looked at me and waited for an explanation.
Because typically, I answer his questions with a full explanation and then we discuss it back and forth for at least five minutes.
And if we were alone, I would have said, “Yes, they’re wearing bibs to protect their clothes just like you. Because when we get older, sometimes we have a hard time doing things like feeding ourselves.”
But we weren’t alone.
And there was no way I wanted those women to hear me comparing their bibs to his bib.
So I just smiled at him briefly and then pulled out a bag of popcorn.
And prayed he wouldn’t say the word, “Bibs!” next.
Fortunately, he let it pass and I sighed a breath of relief.
Until later on…..
When I was happily munching on my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and trying to feed Bubbers his sandwich.
All of a sudden one of the elderly women sitting across the table from us started blowing her nose into her napkin.
I didn’t pay it much mind, but the Bubbers king immediately looked up.
He watched her for a moment, then pointed right at her and said in his sweet, loud voice, “Bubbles!!”
The woman froze mid-blow and stared at him.
“Bubbles!” he repeated, still pointing at her and then looked at me.
Slowly, her confused stare also moved to me.
And my mind went blank.
What do I say?? I thought with panic.
“Ha, ha! We don’t like the word ‘boogers’, so we call them ‘bubbles’ because that’s what they are when Bubbers is sick. So he’s pointing out the fact that you’re blowing your boogers and waiting for me to validate his observation.”
Somehow, that explanation didn’t sound right.
And yet, I always knew this day would come.
But I never thought it would come so soon.
And I was nowhere near ready to confront it.
So I didn’t say anything.
But she just kept staring at me.
So I needed to say something.
And finally I attempted a smile and mumbled something like, “That’s what we call them,” without explaining what “them” was and then buried my head in my lunch bag.
The Woman with One Eye
Thankfully, the rest of our lunch went smoothly and then it was time to make our rounds through the dining room to greet each resident.
The Bubbers king smiled, said, “Hi”, gave high fives and tried to play with their walkers.
And one sweet woman held his little hand and said with tears in her eyes, “God bless you.”
Then she took a little container of grape jelly off the table and handed it to him, saying, “Give this to your mother.”
So he did and I thanked her with a big smile and touched heart.
Then we moved on to the other residents.
As we neared the entrance, Bubbers tried to run to it, but I veered him toward the last table where the women were trying to catch his eye.
“We have one more table,” I said, “Let’s go say hi.”
Bubbers turned to the table and waved up at a woman sitting there.
I glanced at her and realized there was something wrong with one of her eyes.
The eyelid was closed and didn’t move.
As soon as I realized this, I prayed that Bubbers wouldn’t notice it.
But I was too late.
“Huh?” Bubbers said loudly and bent down to look her in the face better.
He stared up at her and then pointed at her eye, “Huh?” he repeated again.
My mind went blank.
Fortunately, the woman’s mind was not blank.
“I only have one eye,” the woman explained without hesitation.
Bubbers listened intently and then looked back and forth between her good eye and the closed lid over an empty socket.
“One eye?” he slowly repeated back to her.
My mind was still blank.
Then all of a sudden, Bubbers turned to another woman at the table and peered intently at her face.
He pointed to each of her eyes and said, “One… two!”
The woman nodded and said, “Yes, I have two eyes, but they’re not very good.”
Then Bubbers turned back to the other woman, pointed and said, “One!”
“Yes, I only have one eye,” she said with a smile.
My mind was even more blank.
Incredibly, Bubbers had just started counting things in the last week.
Just in time for us to come and count eyes.
Back and forth he went, “One, two!…. One!…. One, two!…. One!”
And the ladies just smiled and nodded, “That’s right, that’s right!”
And I just smiled painfully because I didn’t know what else to do.
Then finally, Bubbers had explored this new realm of “one eyeness” to meet his needs.
And he suddenly waved goodbye and bolted for the entrance.
Relieved, I said, “Goodbye,” and followed him.
Intensely grateful for their sweet understanding.
And wondering how on earth to cure a blank mind.