By Kay Kendall
A few times during my
many years, I’ve reached a level of calm stability. My home life and work are
nicely balanced. My near and dear ones are healthy and reasonably happy. All
When I realize I’m in
this condition, then I think, ah, this is
great. Once this stability becomes stasis, however, I get a little bored. And
then things* change, and the hits
just keep on a’comin and they don’t let up. At this point, I long to
be bored again.
Last August I‘d reached the
point of stasis. However, by then I’d learned enough to fear what lay ahead. And,
boy, was I right.
>My elderly mother-in-law declined,
and my husband spent a month in her faraway city tending to her. She passed on.
>He immediately was diagnosed with a bad illness and went into gruesome
>My daughter-in-law had a
strange illness that no doctor could fathom.
>A dear friend was
diagnosed with terminal cancer. She proceeded to have two strokes. I visited
her today in the nursing home.
>My writing had to give way for three months.
>My hairdresser of 22 years retired.
In short, the roof fell in.
And then the house next
door was torn down. See photo.
Now, here’s a funny
thing. That house was the worst on our block and had been deteriorating visibly
for twenty years. We waited and waited for someone to buy it, to tear it down
(this being Houston, after all, and everything gets torn down), and to rebuild.
I dreamed of when we'd live beside a McMansion, and our
home's value would soar.
When all that finally,
finally began to happen, did I rejoice? No, I did not. Instead, I worried. The
jackhammers tearing up the cement would hurt our foundation. Our house would
develop cracks. The new neighbors would be dreadful. Things, in short, would
all go to hell. Or so I worried.
I have discerned a
pattern in myself regarding change. After I look forward to—even long for—change,
then when it finally arrives, I am displeased. Well, perhaps I do exaggerate.
I’m upset a little, and then I do adjust. But not until I have gone through a
period of great gnashing of teeth and ranting and raving.
Thank heavens that upset stage
has shortened over the years. These days I tend to get on with doing what I
must until, one day, I look up and see that everything is all right with my world
again. I used to fear I’d get stuck on a cycle I abhorred. Now I know that’s
not true. Things do change, whether you really want them to or not. They
My husband’s illness has
taught me to stay in the half-full position. I eschew the half-empty one. That
way happiness does not lie. His condition is dangerous…it could be so much
worse. The doctors are fabulous in my large city. He will get well. So the
treatment is tough. He will get well. He is lucky. I am lucky.
I now apply this
half-full approach to everything I can think of that torments me. I haven't become a Pollyanna. I don’t think everything
works out for the best
. Instead, I’ve learned good things can grow out of
bad. If you only let them.
While all this may not make
sense to you, it does to me, and it took me a while to arrive at this
philosophical state. I celebrated a major birthday this week, by the
way. As my friend (since kindergarten) likes to say, we are still on the right side of the grass.
Once I thought her saying
was gruesome. I don’t anymore. It’s accurate. I know I’m lucky to be achieving
this large number of years. Some people never do. I'm one of the lucky ones.
Tell yourself that, too, no matter what. It can always get worse. Enjoy what
you have....By the way, I gave myself a new nickname. You may call me Zen. Or at least…Zen-esque!
* For brevity’s sake, I
use the inexact term things
a multitude of events, conditions, situations, settings, etc. etc
Kay Kendall set her
debut novel, DESOLATION ROW--AN AUSTIN STARR MYSTERY in 1968. The sequel RAINY
DAY WOMEN (June 2015) shows her amateur sleuth Austin Starr proving
her best friend didn't murder women’s liberation activists in
Seattle and Vancouver. A fan of historical mysteries, Kay does for the 1960s what
novelist Jacqueline Winspear accomplishes for England in the 1930s–present
atmospheric mysteries that capture the spirit of the age. She is also an
award-winning international PR executive who lives in Texas with her husband,
three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly allergic to the bunnies, she
loves them anyway! Her book titles show she’s a Bob Dylan buff too.