“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
One day when my daughter Katie was a little girl, she asked my grandmother why her arms flopped. She gently grabbed the skin under my grandmother’s arm and said, “If you push this, it flops.” She went on to ask, “Why doesn’t mine do that?” Why indeed. These “flops” can best be described as the area on a woman’s arm that appears to be a bicep that became deflated like a balloon and fell to the underneath side of the arm. As the wind blows, so do the “flops.” Nana swears at times she even feels them slapping against her ribs. This motivates her all the more to continue to lift weights, as she is convinced that she can tighten up those flops. Each of us women who share her genetic makeup quietly sits on the couch and cheers her on in the hopes that our fate of the flops can be altered.
“Flops” are another surprising gift of aging. Or maybe to some degree or another, we all have them throughout our life, but only as we age do we recognize them as hidden gifts.
There is no question that life is easier to view in the rearview mirror with the passage of time. We can more clearly see how things that seemed painful and disappointing in the moment may have led to incredible blessings further down our life path. How the loss of a job may have led to a great career opportunity, or running late in the morning may have saved us from a deadly accident on the freeway. Some of our greatest experiences of flops, disappointments, and pain when examined closely usually turn out to be life changing.
One of my great flops had to do with a pot roast. I started to date my high school sweetheart the end of my sophomore year of high school through my second year of college. He was, probably still is, a great guy. Unlike many of my friend’s boyfriends, he was thoughtful and kind. We had fun together and seemed to be compatible. Throughout the years he spent much time with my family, who also had great affection for him. He was just a nice guy—until the night of the pot roast.
We had been dating for so long through our very young years; it will surprise nobody to learn that we had developed into a nice comfortable friendship. The strain of me being away at college, and the budding interest for both of us to explore other relationships, had forced our hand into “talking about us.” At the tender age of only twenty, we both seemed scared to let go of each other, but eager to know if there was something else to a relationship. For months we had danced around the topic, always careful to not hurt each other, but increasingly becoming more restless.
It was the first week of June. I remember because finals were finally over, and I was just completing a few things on campus and preparing to come home for a couple weeks before summer classes started. We decided that on Friday night, he would drive down to my apartment, and I would make dinner so we could talk about “us.” I put the pot roast in the oven at around three o’clock to have it ready for a six o’clock dinner. At five o’clock, I made a salad and set the table.
The smell of the onions and carrots slowly roasting in the garlic sauce made its way downstairs to Nana’s living room. She commented on how good it smelled and then asked how I had prepared the meat. She knew all about the dinner and what my boyfriend and I were to discuss. She liked him very much, but always remained clear in her message that we both deserved to be honest with each other, and what was meant to be would be revealed. I could not possibly know how true her words would turn out to be.
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Genre – Memoir
Rating – PG13
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