Is Your Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

The past few weeks have been challenging. However, I’ve been given the gift of perspective and its come in the form of old friends, new friends and quite frankly people I don’t even know. What happened? Here it goes.

First off, I had a packed schedule for the past few weeks. Busy with communications clients and weekends packed with private kayak instruction. My trailer that I pull kayaks with broke its welds and it needed to be fixed for the trip the next weekend. I was also providing all of the food for the kayaking group. There was no wiggle room in my week.

Don’t get me wrong. I like being busy, but it doesn’t leave a lot of room for managing surprises. I received a call late on Tuesday from my parents that my 99-year-old aunt Elizabeth has gone into the hospital and was in ICU.  We had plans to visit her in September because she was turning 100 soon. At 99 years, Elizabeth was amazing. She attended church on Sundays, played with her great grandchildren, and was on Facebook! I remembered one of her more recent comments to a picture on my profile – I wish I could see you. My parents were going down the next day – Wednesday and my sister was driving them. Dad said, there is no reason for me to go, he knew I had a busy schedule and couldn’t make it. I was so stressed out that tears were streaming down my face. I have a group from church, and we have a “group me” text chat app. I posted in there my anguish and one of the members posted this back.

“Sit down, take a deep breath, pray about it, ask for help and do what your heart tells you.”

Wow. It took a moment for that to sink in. I immediately texted clients that I would not be making meetings the next day, I got an absence for my business group meeting, and I got up at 5:30 a.m. with my sister to drive my parents to Mobile to see Elizabeth. Hopefully, not for the last time. I asked my friend Bubba for help with the trailer and he even came and picked it up. I asked another friend for help in picking up the boats for the coming weekend (that was another thing that had to be done) and they said sure.  I am so incredibly blessed with the most amazing friends and family.

You know what, it all worked out. Yes, I had some late nights that week, but thanks to my friends and family it all got done. My Mom helped me cook food. The trailer is now even better than before thanks to Bubba, Vander and their welding magic! And, most important we got to see to Elizabeth. Only two of us could go in at a time, but I could swear when my sister and I went in, she smiled. They think she had a mini stroke. She had been combative the night before and needed oxygen. She was in and out, but I got to touch her hand and tell her how much I loved her.

Fast forward to the next week. The news was not so great. Elizabeth didn’t make it. Her funeral was scheduled for Thursday and I was leaving town that evening for another private group over Labor Day weekend. My sister, God bless her, took my father. My Mom and I were really not able to go back, but it was okay.  And, here are the next set of challenges that were presented to me.

I had rushed around to get items ready to go for the second trip and made it to the house to pick up the trailer and boats. I thought I hooked up the trailer securely – but I was wrong. As I pulled out of my sister’s steep driveway the trailer rocked strangely. I was almost to the top of the drive and I had the instinct to stop and look to see what was wrong. The trailer had popped off the hitch and was dangling by the safety chains. I tried to manually lift the trailer up the hill the rest of the way, but could not do it. I made the decision to drag it with the car to the top of the drive and try and reconnect it there. I was lucky – it worked. But there was a moment there looking at this impossible situation that I wanted to cry. Instead, I talked myself into taking a deep breath, keeping a calm head and praying that God did not want my trailer full of boats to end up crashed into the neighbor's trucks, or in the creek at the bottom of my sister’s driveway. He didn’t. I got it reconnected and headed down the road. It was 5 o’clock traffic but I was finally on my way to Tennessee – or so I thought.

As I traveled down the interstate, I noticed my battery light came on. I don’t even know what that means. I called a friend that I was meeting in Gadsden who was going to help me teach that weekend. Their advice was to not shut off the truck (still had to drop off some club boats at a storage location). So, I didn’t. After I dropped off the boats, they checked back in with me, “are your lights on?”  “Yes,” I said. “Cut them off, cut the air conditioning off and the radio,” said my friend. I was like this truly sucks. But, I did it. I made it to the gravel parking area by the Petro and after investigation we decided it was my alternator. I called AAA but all they would do is tow me someplace. And, there was not a repair place open. It was at this moment I believe God sent a man named James. James asked if I needed help. His car looked like it was on the verge of breaking down itself and he looked scruffy and was smoking cigarettes. I said yes. He had tools in his truck and he said for $40 he could fix my alternator. No brainer, I was like okay. With his tools, James and my friend literally disassembled my 4-runner in a gravel parking lot. They got radiator fluid all over them, grease and dirt.  It was dark by the time it was done – like 8:30 p.m. or so. When we finished I gave James more than $40. I still don’t know his full story or name, but he said he moved down here from up North to be with his son and first grandson. He seemed grateful for the extra cash.  And, I was happy to get my car fixed and back on the road. I wouldn’t reach my destination until about 1:30 a.m. in the morning, but that gave me plenty of time to get at least 6 hours of sleep and meet my group at the river in Tennessee.

I’m a little ashamed to admit that at times I wondered if James had an ulterior motive. Was he going to rob me? Abduct me? I think it’s easy these days to think the worst of people. But, in the past couple of weeks I’ve seen the best. I have family in Houston, Texas that are safe, and my brother is in San Antonio with a house in Corpus Christi. The only thing he lost was his dock in Harvey. All in all, we are so very blessed and I am grateful beyond measure.

My purpose in sharing this is to remember the advice of my friend from church. “Stop, take a deep breath, ask for help, pray about it and do what your heart tells you.” You may not get the answer you want – but you will get what you need.

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