February 15, 2021
When I first moved to North Carolina, aside from my daughters and their families, I knew no one. That was tough for me, because I am someone who needs people in my life, specifically now that I was a widow and attempting to navigate my life without my husband of 41 years. It was particularly difficult because I had moved 360 miles from my comfort zone where I had an abundance of wonderful friends who gave me comfort when I needed it, made me laugh, kicked me in the ass if necessary and just overall were the warm and all enveloping cushion of reassurance and encouragement I needed from time to time to just get through the day. So, here I was, suddenly cast into unfamiliar geography, weird accents, and an abiding need to establish myself into a new community and find new friends. It became my purpose‑‑to see what was out there and what would work for me. After a few missteps, I am thankful to say that I am happily ensconced in a wonderful international community service organization, which I have been a member of for many years and simply transferred my membership to my new home state. I have made many new friends in my new club and am thrilled to be able to give back to the community again.
On a personal level, I have found the most delightful group of friends in a widowed group who have truly given me a new lease on life. I felt welcomed the first time I joined them for a get together. It is a no pressure, no judgment environment and everyone truly just “gets it.” We all have different stories, situations, backgrounds, coping mechanisms, and views of the world, but one thing we all seem to share is a mutual respect and commonality which is quite refreshing given the strife that exists in today’s world. Due to Covid, our social events have been relegated to Zoom for now, but our coordinator is our Queen. Without her dedication to our group, I believe we would fail. She makes our gatherings fun and always plans innovative “events.” Once a week, we have a happy hour, which doesn’t require alcohol, though truth be told, most of us imbibe. Sometimes we play Scattergories or Jeopardy, or we simply just talk and enjoy each other’s company. There is never a lull, I promise you.
So, if you are wondering about the title of this blog, there is an actual method to my purple prose. A new member of our group, I’ll call her D, is a very engaging, joy-filled woman who always has a story to tell the group. Whether she is sharing that evening’s dinner menu, pulling her dog onto her lap, or discussing her church activities, D is, in a word, entertaining. She has a beautiful smile, an uplifting personality, and a raucous laugh. Our group never knows what to expect when D has the floor, but we all know she won’t disappoint. A few weeks ago, she told us about a recent household catastrophe she experienced that left all of us with jaws dropped and heads shaking. D took a bite from an apple, decided she didn’t like the taste, and proceeded to flush it down the toilet. Most of you can probably predict what happened next. NOT D. As the apple tried valiantly to make its way down through the pipes and plumbing system, those scary noises, clamors, and rumbles began letting their presence be known. All of us on the Zoom call made similar sounds along the lines of incredulous groans as if to communicate to D – “WHY D??? WHY DID YOU FLUSH AN APPLE DOWN THE TOILET?” What made even more problematic for us was D’s reaction to our reaction. She had a look of sheer incredulity. She simply didn’t understand why we were so aghast! She saw NO problem with her actions, even as the bathroom flooded, even as her son attempted plunging, even as same son asked the same question we asked, yada, yada, yada. Even after a plumber was called and she was $125 poorer. (On the bright side, she received a military discount, so there’s that.) As D related this story to her new friends in the widowed group, she never lost her sense of humor and we hope she did learn something, that apples and the narrow pipes of a drainage system are probably not a good match. And no matter what, we, her widowed friends will always support her even when she makes bad decisions.
I thought a lot about the apple in the toilet title of this blog and figured maybe I could turn it into a metaphor for different junctures in our lives. Why not? Does the apple symbolize our bad decisions? Are we walking away from them by simply flushing them away? Like the toilet though, ultimately you can’t escape them. One way or another, you WILL pay the piper, or the plumber, or the person you have wronged, or the obstacles you are avoiding.
That one bite taken out of that apple – is it your fear of something? You tried it, decided you couldn’t do it or didn’t want to do it, so you gave up and flushed it away. Instead of taking a deep breath, another bite, and another and another until you finish the entire apple and ultimately conquer your fear and achieve a goal and prove to yourself that you CAN do it. Remember the Nike slogan? I hope you have noticed here that I have not used the apple as it was used in the forbidden fruit Garden of Eden allegory. That’s definitely not in my wheelhouse and something I don’t feel worthy discussing as I am a sinner and only God knows what would happen if I took a step down that path! Pray for me.
I have enjoyed writing this blog. Even though our new friend, D, understood (we hope) the error of her ways in terms of discarding food items, we hope she never loses her sense of joy and wonderment. She has had a great loss in her life as all of us in our group have, but it appears that she has chosen to turn that loss into living her life with purpose. While she may not always make sensible decisions, she does so with no ill intent. I wouldn’t be surprised if her middle name is Pollyanna. We need more people like her in the world.
One final suggestion: protect your plumbing. Put your uneaten fruit and vegetables in a compost bin.