The day after I shared with y’all the video of the beautiful Thai commercial and challenged us all to “be the feathers” who look after and over each other with compassionate hearts and tender hands, my friend shared this quote with me.
She shared it with me as a different way of thinking about “being the feather.” I really appreciate her taking the time and effort to make sure I saw it.
But I also kind of wanted to run away from her. (and maybe stick my fingers in my ears too?)
Because, Monday, you see, was one of those days. A day I would have run away from if I could have.
In hindsight I realize it wasn’t nearly as big as my heart thought it was at the time. Ah, the clarity of hindsight, right?
But there in the middle of it…..
I had a call from an attorney I’d never met regarding business with my Mama’s and my Great Aunt’s estates. He needed some documentation from me ASAP and suggested I “just fax it” to him.
If you have a fax machine in your home, more power to you. I did not mean to misrepresent you when I replied to his request. However, I have been asked so many times in the course of handling estate matters “Do you have a fax machine?”
No. I do not.
I thought about what to tell this gentleman–the one who answers the phone by saying his name, and then “Attorney at Law” immediately following. Oh dear. I much prefer “my” attorney who has walked this journey with me and been so wonderful–he almost sounds distracted when he answers “Law Office.” I’m really good with that.
“Sir, what I need for you to know is that most folks just don’t have a fax machine in their homes. And I’m one of them.”
Okay, I was frustrated. I have a lot buzzing this week and driving paperwork down to him 45 minutes one way was not on my list. Not until we were scheduled to meet anyway. Which we were.
And I told him just that. I asked him why it wouldn’t work for me to bring the papers with me as I had initially been told to do.
And then he said it.
“Well, how do I even know she’s dead?”
It was so silent, there weren’t even crickets.
I held the phone out away from my ear and stared for a second. I could not have just heard what I thought I did.
“Ummm, sir, I can assure you she is. I’m not just taking all this on for the fun of it or for my health or anything like that.”
Yep, by now I was crying. But I didn’t want Mr. Attorney at Law to know.
He suggested I call my attorney and have him find it in his files and fax it to his office.
All I could think of was if one more person said the word “fax” in my presence……
I called my “Law office” good guy who immediately set to work finding and fa—sending over the phone line copies of the required documents. He wouldn’t even bill me for his time. (Note to self–need to do some baking.)
The Attorney at Law called me back, this time saying that the documents were not sufficient for me to be able to handle the aforementioned business.
I was starting to get a bad taste in my mouth with this guy. Then he made a condescending comment that let me know he didn’t think very highly of my Mama’s business acumen, her planning, or her intellect.
WHOA. BACK. THE. TRUCK. UP. NOW.
My Mama and I didn’t always agree. I’m not perfect. (Well there’s a surprise folks.) And neither was she. But she was one of the smartest and most ingenious, creative people I knew. She could make something out of nothing, whether it was clothes or a meal or a craft or book report project. She had skills. But if she didn’t know how to do something, she either researched it or she found someone else to handle it. She didn’t do anything half way.
I was seeing RED. Don’t ever disparage my Mama.
And oh help him, I knew right then and there he had never heard of my Great Aunt. She was known in his same small town, and she was respected. Her Daddy had been a farmer and the probate judge and she worked for him at the courthouse before marrying. She was a class act right up to the end, but she would not have hesitated to have this boy for lunch.
And this apple doesn’t fall far from that tree.
I’m not proud of what I said next, but it happened. I guess so far you might think I’m sharing this story with you because Mr. A.A. Law didn’t think through what he was saying before he said it. He didn’t guard his words. And okay, that’s where I was heading if I’d written this Monday night, but I didn’t. I’ve had time to cool off and put it all into perspective. At least somewhat.
So yeah, as he was explaining the “problems” with the legal document, I snapped back, “Well at least now you know she’s dead.”
Oh my. The only sound was the sound of him sputtering. And then, “Well, I didn’t say that.”
I won’t go into details, but suffice to say I assured him he did, and then I started crying. This time he knew about the tears. I told him that, for whatever reason, it was just as fresh as if it had happened the day before. He said IF he offended me he was sorry.
Well he did.
But I guess my lesson in all of this, and why I wanted to run from my friend’s quote she lovingly shared, is that I wasn’t any better than Mr. A.A. Law. I spouted off without thinking about where my words would land, but even more importantly, HOW they would land. I let my emotions take control, just as he had let the business at hand take control.
We both forgot one important thing. There was a human being on the other end of that phone line. One with a whole life full of stories leading to that moment, and with thoughts and feelings filtering what was actually being said. Was he out of line? Sure he was. But was I any better for throwing it back at him later?
I can’t be sure. My heart tonight says No.
Part of me hopes my Mama and my Great Aunt are proud that I didn’t just roll over and take what was being said without calling him on it, but part of me wonders…..no, part of me wishes I had handled it a little better. (And I swanee I can hear my Mama calling out from the Other Room, as she often did, “Y’all play nice.”)
Later when I called Mr. Law’s secretary to relay more requested information, I’m afraid I was snappy with her too.
Feathers flying. Words going out of my mouth wreaking havoc on hearts.
Not feathers where they should be. Tucked in close around the heart of another –a shield and a refuge.
A mere day after I stood and encouraged and pleaded with folks to #bethefeather
It’s almost more than I can bear.
This life is hard. I so want to be somebody who makes an impact on the world one minute, and then the very next moment, I am flying off the handle and making an impact all right–a negative one. Not what I was hoping for. At all.
Tonight I’m thankful for the difference that a day makes. The clarity that can come from walking away. And for a message that, if I’m about to open my mouth, maybe I shouldn’t–thank you gnats for that one. I am thankful for good guy attorneys and for folks that have my back. And I’m trying to be grateful that I get a chance to meet Mr. A.A. Law in person, in his office, and look him in the eye. It won’t be easy, but I think I have to apologize for my mouth, for my snarky words–to him and to his secretary, who was only caught in the crossfire, bless her.
Actually, I’m not telling the truth. I know I have to apologize. Because I can hear my Mama as clear as if she’s sitting right here next to me. And who knows, she probably is.
“Act like you are somebody.”
I hear you. That’s what being the feather looks like sometimes, isn’t it?
Love and hope for a chance at do-overs for all.