Hedging My Bets

“Superstition is foolish, childish, primitive and irrational – but how much does it cost you to knock on wood?”  — Judith Viorst

You know by now that I believe that our outlook on life is largely dependent upon what we choose to see.  If we are suspicious by nature, we will find much to be wary about;  if driven by the need to find fault – there’s more than enough out there to satisfy the need; the shallow heart will find no grace, etc.  The converse is also true – if you find this world an intriguing place to be, I promise you moments upon moments of wonder.  And, if you have a tendency to stare life in the face with a smile – there is much to find that will amuse and delight.  Yes, yes I know – once again I am being simplistic, for I am not writing about the horrors that cannot be avoided, the wars that continue without surcease (or even purpose at times), the frightening twists of fate that defy explanation.  So bear with me here, and let’s go back to the original premise, ok?

I spent yesterday afternoon in a hospital waiting room – Andy had to have his knee scoped and a ligament tear repaired.  First and foremost, he’s fine.  He was in the operating room for under thirty minutes, recovery for an hour or so and when I saw him in recovery, he was sucking down Diet Pepsi like it was nectar and tearing open saltines and graham crackers as if they were haute cuisine.  His eyes were bright, his thoughts a little muddled and his awareness of the crumbs falling down onto his blankets as he inhaled whatever the nurses gave him, definitely compromised.  In other words – my boy was back.  And I whispered “thank you”.

But this is about the micro-society known as ‘the waiting room’.  Fascinating place.  Just to caveat this – this is the waiting room for same-day surgeries – everyone gets to go home at the end of the day.  In the back of the room, there was a family of eight – they brought enough food with them to feed a third world country and the smells were overwhelming.  An abundance of mayonnaise, ham and cheese and popcorn really smells. First they thanked God for their food, then conversation began to flow which resembled a meeting of people with ADD or no real interest in engaging each other in conversation..

“When is Buddy gonna stop visiting with her?  I want to go back before they take her”

“Did you hear about Renee’s son?  I don’t want to say anything but he is t-r-o-u-b-l-e.  What?  Oh, believe me I can tell – even before they’re walkin’ I can tell.”

“Sugar, hit me with some of that Pepsi will you?”

“I heard that John was seen messin’ with that girl who just started workin’ at his job.  No, I didn’t see them, but I’ve heard.”

“Anyone seen Buddy?”

You get the picture.  When Buddy came back, he advised that their loved one had gone to the operating room, which did prompt ten seconds of silence (thank you Buddy).  Disjointed talking resumed.  As soon as the doctor came to tell them that all had gone well, there was a chorus of perfectly timed “Thank You Jesus, Mary and Joseph” and a short prayer recited by all giving thanks for everything going well.  Honestly, I was surprised they could say anything in unison – let alone the same thing in unison.

The woman sitting next to me was waiting for her husband to have knee replacement surgery.  She told me all about her own knee injury from years ago, her daughter and son-in-law, (they separated for awhile but now they’re back together, “knock on wood”) and what a crotchety patient her spouse was going to be (“I can say that now that I know he’s going to be just fine,” she said).  The gentleman to my right was on the phone talking about some horrid surgery he had had on his shoulder, with details so graphic I had to get up and get some water.  And I couldn’t help but overhear, “Don’t say that man, no jinxes, ok?”

Miscellaneous information – the volunteers who keep families apprised of patients’ statuses are women over the age of ninety-five.  Very sweet, all three wearing wigs that in one way or another need some adjustment (I swear, one woman had lost her forehead under that hair), all six freckled hands ended each conversation with a pat on the back, the shoulder, etc.  Well, all conversations when they weren’t talking amongst themselves about going to see The King And I at WolfTrap this Friday, their seats, favorite songs, what to wear.  But how can you begrudge anyone that senior who is volunteering their time, when it’s the one item in their pantry in the most limited supply?

I could go on – the waiting room was full.  I learned about procedures, siblings, a teenager who broke his wrist during pre-season football practice (his mom insisting it was because he wasn’t wearing his St. Christopher medal, his dad disagreeing and blaming it on his son being out with his friends the night before practice – we are always looking for explanations aren’t we – even when it’s an accident).  Adult identical twin sisters wearing the exact same outfits – ‘for luck’.

By the time I saw Andy, I was more than ready to leave this hive with its cacophony of buzzes.  But I’m no different – just quieter.  I whispered my prayer to the morning sky, making sure I could spot a star before any words came from my lips.  Last week, when another member of our family was in the hospital, I paced and negotiated and kept looking for signs to assure me all was well.  My friend Suz says that when she sees a dragonfly, she thinks it’s a sign from her dad.  Suz, I’ve seen an abundance of dragonflies lately.  One even stopped and hovered in front of me for a few seconds.  I did say “Hi Sam” – even though he and I never met.  The other morning, with no wind tickling the trees and the sun not yet awake, one tree began to sway with determination –  demanding that I notice.  One of my angels?  A message from the universe that it knew I was there?  I prefer those notions over any explicable scientific phenomena.  Why there are more butterflies hanging around than usual or why the twin fawns rest in our backyard with no intention of fleeing even when they hear the Sirs and I on the deck.

Superstitions?  My mother saying “tu tu tu” (or something pretty close to that) every time someone would say anything that needed to be protected from a negative result,  wishing someone well and hearing them say “from your mouth to God’s ear”…There’s a negative connotation to superstition; a more understandable and accepted perspective when one attributes such actions to faith or tradition.  At the end of the day, we’re hedging our bets when faced with a situation that could end either way.  We’re putting our money on faith and hope.  And we’re betting it all.

39 thoughts on “Hedging My Bets

  1. “Our outlook on life is largely dependent on what we choose to see.”. So, so true, Mimi. I firmly believe in the law of attraction–I see it in action all the time. GREAT post from someone who radiates positivity, and a super reminder as I step out into the world this morning. Xoxo, l

    • Oh Lori, you need no reminders…the light is all around you. It’s others who seek to be in your sphere and revel in the warmth. And if you don’t ‘see’ that, I will lend you my mirror..have a great day..xoox, m

  2. I must say I got a good chuckle about the volunteers being 95. I work at a hospital and 95 must be mandatory. I must say they do take their position very seriously.
    I am a believer of what you see is what you will get also, it’s a choice and I prefer to see the good. Thanks again for my lesson of the day!

  3. I’m glad , both, you and Andy made it through the day with some wear and tear (pun intended). While he has the bulk of the work to do now, sitting in a waiting room and, well, waiting is not for the weak of heart or one with good hearing 🙂 Whatever superstition, bubba mises, etc you choose – if it brings you comfort, then it’s right. Sending love to you both. Strength to the caretaker and speedy recovery to the patient. Knock wood. xoxoxoxoxoxox

    • Thanks sweetheart – it’s all good. He’s not in any pain at all, which makes it that much easier to care for the patient. And he’s sleeping – also good. Tu Tu Tu…:-) oxox

  4. I have always noticed that about volunteers — so many of them are a hairsbreath away from being in the hospital themselves — I am always impressed and comforted by them. Someone asked me if I was retired the other day (as a freelance writer I do not think I will ever retire until my mind goes–but really I am not that old) and it really shook me up.
    Glad all went well with the surgery, but your post was tres interesting and as always – pithy (my new favourite word)

  5. I could imagine myself in the waiting room with you Mimi, great story. Since I work in a medical office we hear conversations like these frequently. Patients will start chatting with each other and it is amazing the things that they will share. I am glad Andy is doing well and will toss up good thoughts for him today 🙂

  6. Mimi, I played and coached hockey for many years. I think superstition is an important part of routine. What other reason would I give for showing up at rinks hours before games, stay hours after games, and go through the same routine each time? We believe in things we cannot touch or explain because somehow they seem real to us. Science can explain some physical phenomenon, but needs help with the spiritual and emotional.

    Thank you,

    Ivon

    • Isn’t that the truth? Why I used to always walk on stage with my right foot, tossed salt over my shoulder, etc..Science is one thing – you’re right, but spirituality and emotional support are essential…

  7. Whenever I see a butterfly, I assume it’s my mother. Whenever I see a dragonfly, I assume it’s another special person I should have known but never got to meet…

    “A message from the universe that it knew I was there? I prefer those notions over any explicable scientific phenomena. ” – I say absolutely! Yes! When we were on vacation in July, I am remembering the lovely ‘strangers’ I met who showed me the way to their backyard forest, and it’s beautiful trails and meadows. I ran there everyday, and found a spot in the meadow just filled with butterflies. It reduced me to tears, I felt a presence there and how can we explain that as anything else but a message from the universe?

    I so needed this grounding reminder today…xo.
    {and a perfect summation of waiting room humanity!}

    • Whassup Bonnie? Crazy day? I’m sorry – it seems like everything begins to accelerate in all areas of our lives as soon as school begins. Their selling Halloween stuff at the supermarket!! I hope you get a chance to slow it down a little, find a butterfly or whatever sign you need to remind you that there are wonders all around you..xox

    • Thanks very much..yes, my big baby is on the mend (he is a baby when it comes to discomfort, but he’s really being good, all things considered…:-))…

  8. Thank you ♥ and yes, things are definitely accelerating, but it’s all good stuff [but Halloween candy now? Way too early, I am an in-the-moment with holidays kind of gal]. It’s more a matter of some of the ambiguous stuff that swirls around, worthy of reflection. Especially an important friendship that is possibly in some kind of transition, and needs something, but I am at a loss as to what and if/how I should approach it and that has been throwing me off my game lately, waking the insecurity monster. Your post was a good call back/grounding for me. xoxo

    • Friendships morph and change like the currents in the sea sometimes..it’s hard to figure out which direction is the right one. Just know that all people are in your life for a reason – some forever, some for a time, some to teach you where your buttons are so you can protect them. The answers will come – maybe sooner if you let the question go for a little while, the answer will be more quickly delivered? xoxx

  9. I agree, wholeheartedly. I have been stepping away from it – I am such a percolator – to get some perspective, let the emotions play out and make sure that if /when I do approach it, it’s coming from a whole, healthy, productive place. And I know that no matter what, approaching it when in a ‘funk’ is never the right time. It would be sad to see this one morph or go in a direction other than what it has seemed, and it has taught me much already. I love how you say, ‘…teach you where your buttons are so you can protect them…’ I’ve been in the advanced class on this topic the last couple of months with this person 🙂

    • Well then you’re a pro – good for you!! And if she has taught you all you need to learn, then perhaps her purpose has been served in your life – and you in hers. I’m not trying to make people sound fungible – but some do come into our lives for awhile, and sometimes we need to let go of those who don’t really care about us all that much no matter how much we have tried. You’re right of course – no decisions should be made when in a funk – just wait..xo

  10. As I used to leave my poor husband in the waiting room with my mom for hours on end, I was typically grateful that I was the one going into surgery. Seemed like an easier day!

    • Honestly? It isn’t the easier day…I’ve been on both sides of that equation (as well you know) with more times on the patient end. I’d rather be the one who gets to move around, drink some coffee and worry a lot..:-)

  11. turning on my little lappy this morning, just out of habit, because I have no time to sit and run my fingers through her hair…i noticed her face was all wet, so i had to stop to see why she was crying. precious time out of a very hectic schedule this week…but we cannot let our friends cry alone. so, i sat with her and had a bit of a chat. she told me i should come read your post from yesterday (as today is thursday and i am reading wednesday’s post)…that it would explain to me why her face was all wet. so i came, i read, i smiled, i nodded my head, i said my silent thank yous for andy’s successful surgery and his no pain (knock on wood that is still true), so that you dear woman would have time to not only minister your particular brand of love to him but take care of yourself too. having done all that….i now know why lappy dearest directed me here to discern the wetness upon her cheeks. shall i share? ok…

    every time you TU TU TU-ed, mim darling, your spit (yes, spittle was released) splatter her screen. while i am one for a good TU TU TU…either give fair warning or perhaps offer a TUTUTU-tissue?

    Oh….here…..take this, and wipe your screen. so sorry…i should have warned you. 😉

    • I know you’re crazy busy this week sweetie, but you always manage to send a giggle my way..sorry about the spit on your screen – I should have added that having a wipe handy would be wise..I wonder if there’s a market out there for “tututu-tissues”..hey, people bought pet rocks…
      Andy is in whine mode – he needs to get himself moving and is disinclined…sigh…let’s just say when it comes to soldiering on, he never signed up. 🙂

      • i KNEW it…I think I added one to many (get your tututu-tissue ready) tu tu tu’s. darn, i reversed it…i’m sending my apologies to the tu tu tu grandmas asking them to please remove andy’s whine…and putting a stick up his pa-tutututie to get moving instead.
        love you and will see you intermittently over the next few days. wish me luck, in the home stretch, and looking forward to it actually. breathe……
        xoxoxo

  12. So glad that all is well. I am a germaphobic of sorts and cannot imagine eating in a waiting room, or touching the arms of chairs, and heaven forbid picking up one of their magazines to read! But I do find it interesting, like you, to listen and watch other folks. It does help pass that dreaded waiting period! I wish Andy a speedy recovery! ♥

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