“Sometimes crying or laughing are the only options left, and laughing feels better right now.” ― Veronica Roth, Divergent
If the ability to laugh at oneself is reflective of good mental health, I’m in decent shape. It’s been a hectic year. I retired from my full-time job intending to do a lot of writing and a little consulting. Nothing has been further from the truth. God had significantly different plans for me.
As it turns out, I’m a primary player on the ‘aging in place team’ for my ninety-three-year-old mother, who suffers with cognitive impairment and is nearly blind and her spouse, a man with the spirit of a lion housed in a pretty fragile frame. After raising five children, this is my new assignment. After a lifetime of being “in charge” my deepest desire is to be a free spirit, responsible to and for no one. It’s a paradox.
Recently I was invited to the 70th birthday party of Patricia Charles Kline. Pat is a contributor to the Garden Spices online magazine and our Editor and Chief, Pat’s longtime friend, Vicki Basely Goldston was in town for the occasion.
Upon receiving the invitation, the date, June 30, went straight to my calendar. Subsequent reminders were sent on Facebook and I promptly RSVP’d. My excitement for attending the party was gaining momentum, however my personal life was insane.
I was running back and forth to eye specialists navigating surgery for mom’s intractable cataracts, arranging for her in home care and inserting myself to plug any gaps. Consulting from my home provides me some flexibility but there are still deliverables. More importantly, I was in the midst of publishing my second mystery novel, The Iron Collar, and had managed to wedge in a Spanish class. I have a lot going on.
June 30, I finally sipped an after-work cocktail in my garden when Yikes! a reminder on my phone indicated, at 5:45, that Pat’s party started 15 fifteen minutes! I rush inside, shower, and noticed that my hair is a mess, its ninety degrees and there is no way I’m heating a curling iron. I open my closet and pull out a beautiful pashmina, a gift from a friend and decide to wrap my hair. Searching for an outfit to match the head wrap, I grab a brilliant emerald green outfit. This is the piece! Finally dressed, I accessorize, selecting African inspired earrings handcrafted by Karen Joy, another party guest. Aware that I’m beyond fashionably late, I hurriedly write a check and stuff it into birthday card for the guest of honor, a woman who truly has everything.
Reaching the venue in record time, I park and bounce upstairs to the party room, prepared to profusely apologize for being late. Once inside the venue I am welcomed by Vicki’s warmth, “Welcome Susan Peters!”
People look toward me, and I stand aghast at the realization that all the guests are in sparkling white! Pat Charles Kline guest of honor was fashion fierce in a glorious shade of orange.
Part of me wanted to place the card on the gift table and haul ass to my car or perhaps the ground could open to receive me! My ears were hot ringing and I heard myself laugh aloud while inwardly I chastised myself for not paying attention to the reminders or inquiring about the dress code.
The sit-down dinner had been served and cleared. People had literally begun to leave. However, my gracious jeweler friend appeared with a slightly mangled, but delicious piece of birthday cake retrieved from the departing caterer. Vicki very kindly gave me her seat at the head table and I decided to get over myself and enjoy the time among the friends that remained. Upon parting I hugged the guest of honor who diplomatically thanked me for “stopping by.” Which wasn’t my intention at all, but that was what had actually happened.
I wish this saga was over, but it wasn’t. Not only had I had arrived late to the party and dressed in the wrong color, I later learned that in my haste to write the birthday check, I had postdated it. Instead of June 30, it was dated July 30!
The moral of this story is, if you can’t laugh at your own screw ups you are taking yourself way too seriously. Tomorrow is another day, try not to screw it up!
.– Susan D. Peters
Susan D. Peters, aka, Ahnydah (ah-NIE-dah) Rahm, brings a wealth of experience gained as an expatriate living in West Africa. Her memoir Sweet Liberia, Lessons from the Coal Pot, received the Black Excellence Award for Non-Fiction from the African American Alliance of Chicago and the Mate E. Palmer award for Non-Fiction from the Illinois Press Women’s Association. Broken Dolls, Susan’s second book, represents her foray into the mystery market and is the first of a series featuring Detective Joi Sommers as its heroine. Her most recent publication is Stolen Rainbow, a short story focused on the post combat recovery of a beautiful marine captain after a devastating combat injury. Her work is featured in three anthologies, Baring It All, the Ins and Outs of Publishing, Signed, Sealed, Delivered … I’m Yours, a contemporary romance anthology, and The Anthology of the Illinois Woman’s Press Association. Buy her books online and at www.SusanDPeters.com.