“I just want things to go back to normal,” Mama said softly one-day last week.
I can greatly understand how she feels.
But I just wasn’t sure what normal was anymore and if we needed to be in a huge rush to get back to it.
What’s normal to the spider is chaos to the fly.
Even though I have long worked from home and pretty much been a professional hermit for a while now, I can feel that the busy-ness of the world has slowed down.
There’s not this pace of feeling like we have to be constantly busy or doing something.
No rushing to sit in traffic.
Stores are getting back to hours that they used to have decades ago.
I can remember telling Granny the Wal-Mart across the street from our old house several years ago was open 24 hours.
“That’s ridiculous,” she said. “Why does anyone need to go to the store at 2 a.m. in the dadblamed morning!”
“Maybe they need diapers,” I said. At the time, I had a newborn, so it seemed like a sincere possibility. In fact, I had been known to put Cole to sleep in his crib and go to the store at midnight so I could shop while he slept. I had months of existing on two hours of sleep a day, so taking care of errands while my family slept seemed logical.
“You know who else is out at that time of night?” Granny asked. “Convicts. And people up to no good. You don’t need to be out at that time. No one does.”
At the time, I thought she was just an argumentative old woman who was stuck in her ways and while that was an accurate description, now, I can see her point.
Granny used to say we needed to remember the old ways and how to do things. According to the Redhead Prime, we all lived a life of grand luxury and abundance and didn’t know how good we had it.
Had Granny, as always in her infinite, omnipotent wisdom, been right?
She spent the summer shelling peas, snapping beans, and canning peaches, tomatoes and anything else she could put in a jar or a Ziploc freezer bag. Our house was 500 degrees in the middle of August because she had her pressure cooker going and her kitchen table full of wares from either her garden or her brother’s.
She filled her freezer, starting with the huge chest one she had, before the canned items loaded her cabinets.
“Why don’t you put anything good in there?” I asked one day as she packed in several gallons of vegetables.
“This is good.”
“That’s not anything I’d want to eat,” I said.
“You would if you were hungry.”
“I won’t ever be that hungry,” I said.
She looked up from her position bent deep over the freezer, labeling and organizing all her packages by date.
“Then you ain’t ever been hungry enough. Trust me, if you was, you’d be glad to eat some green beans or some sausage from your uncle.”
We never went hungry back then, or even came close. Not to my knowledge anyway. Maybe we did and the adults in my home kept me shielded from that worry.
Our normal was every meal being made at home, even when Granny was working.
Our normal was hard work but our family enjoyed it.
Normal was family time, visiting with Granny’s many siblings, nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Normal for us was not going to the store just because we had a hankering or craving for something.
Life was slower. Life was simpler. And we sure seemed happier.
That’s one of the things I have grown keenly aware of the last few years but especially during all of this craziness.
We have had the blessing and convenience of having everything with instant gratification and now that we have to be truly more intentional with what we do, it’s a challenge. Going to the store when we wanted and finding what we needed was something we took for granted.
Even Mama is feeling that.
Doing her grocery order, she has had to plan for things in case they were out of what she needed.
She’s had to plan her order a few days ahead, too.
No running to town that day because she decided to go.
It has been a humbling experience in a way.
We’ve all learned we have been very fortunate like Granny always said.
We haven’t known what it was like to go without; we’ve always had more than one or two choices.
We have known convenience, instead of making do or doing without, which Granny often said was a problem.
“When you’ve got everything handed to you, it don’t make you strong,” she said. “It’s good to struggle a little. It makes you stronger, makes you closer.”
“I’m plenty strong,” I said. “I’m a regular Steel Magnolia. I’m a M’Lynn crossed with Annelle if there ever could be such a thing.”
Granny snorted. “Old gal, you don’t know strong. You’ve grown up with your MTV and now you’ve got all this internet nonsense and online shopping. You go to the store and there’s 30 different kinds of bread. Heck, there’s more than one store! Struggling a little will make you appreciate what you have and what you get when you do get it.”
I hated that phrase then and I hate that phrase now, but I am starting to see her point.
In the middle of this crisis, I have found that I am appreciative of the simplest of things – the finding the things I need at the store, being able to order the things I can’t get and being grateful for the things I do have.
I hope as we rush to return to normal, may we return to what’s truly important and remember the lessons this crisis has given us.