Things That Need to Be Said

I have a relative who says things she shouldn’t.

She says the things you don’t want to hear.

The things that make you uncomfortable, that turn the mirror back on yourself in a most unappealing manner.

In a discussion of summer vacations and friends’ doings, I mentioned that some friends had taken their families to Disney.  We lamented the hot weather in Florida this time of year and how trying it must be.  I said it would be trying at any time of year with my youngest being only three.  If I experienced sensory overload and exhaustion at the dawn to dusk days of Disney, I would have to wait until my children were older before I subjected them to its amusing assaults.  I jokingly shared my observation I’d shared with my husband and kids: that I was fourteen years old before I had my first visit to Disney so I was in no rush to get my own much younger kids there anytime soon.  If I had to wait, they could wait.

And that’s when my grandmother dropped her bomb.

There are children in the world who don’t have enough to eat and here we are worrying about what’s the right age to take our children to Disney.

Nothing like the perspective of an eighty-four year old woman to smack you back in your place.

I hadn’t been lamenting my fate.  I hadn’t been saying my children desperately deserved a trip to Disney, but the poor dears weren’t old enough.  Hell, if anything, I was glad they weren’t the ‘right’ age so I didn’t have to go through the whole ordeal.  I don’t see Disney as an obligatory childhood right of passage.  In America, it’s just something a lot of people do and it’s part of our societal subconscious (again, thank you to the ever-pervasive Disney marketing).

But my grandmother was right.

I’d like to think her comment was not directed solely at me.  That it was just an astute observation of the irony of what many call ‘first world problems’.

But it cut to the quick.

In one concise sentence, she cut the wheat from the chaff and crystallized what should be our priorities.  In a world where families can spend thousands of dollars for over-the-top entertainment, others’ can’t afford food for one day.  In a world where I worry about the stress of an over packed summer schedule, there are mothers who worry if they’ll make it through the week.

I didn’t like what she had to say because it made me feel guilty.  But guilt is usually born of some seed of truth deep within our gut.

My grandmother wasn’t trying to nurture that seed.  She was simply speaking her mind in the privileged way that a long life has earned for her.  In her eight decades, spanning two centuries, she’s seen a multitude of changes, not all of them good.  In her evening ruminations, she discovers a perspective the rest of us can’t necessarily see – or don’t because of the frenetic pace of our lives.

I have a relative who says the things that need to be said, things she’s been waiting her whole life to say.

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7 Comments

  1. Jorge Luis Oyola

     /  July 9, 2013

    Age brings in wisdom: I need a job but you can’t say that
    I need assistance and people turn away
    If people gave the burden would be eliminated
    I will be homeless Oh God not in my neighborhood get him out
    Will You help?
    Just asking because when you learner you should apply not hide

    Thank You and God Bless.

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  2. Way to go Grandma, and way to go Jennifer. Of course she’s right, but you could have had waaaay worse reactions. Can’t wait ’til I’m in my 80s!

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    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  July 9, 2013

      Yes, this is the more positive of my reactions 😉

      With wisdom comes unbridled candor, it seems. Have fun when you get there!

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  3. Becoming an octogenarian seems to also come with the right to say exactly what one thinks. Maybe it’s because we spend more than half our life biting our tongues.

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    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  July 9, 2013

      Very true. Or should anyway 😉

      I must say that I love the word octogenarian – and that you worked it into your comment. It’s not often that one has the opportunity to use it!

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      Reply

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