How can a jar of mayonnaise move me to tears? Let me try to explain. I am two finals from my Bachelor’s degree. Thirty years in the making while having six children, ending a bad marriage after 26 years only to find the love of my life and having to relinquish him in death. Finishing…anything…well…has eluded me for decades. It used to be so important to me. Now, the closer I am to completing my degree, the more of a non-event it becomes. Filtering life through death will do that. I’m also 51 years old and I still feel love for a dead man. The kicker is I’m a Psychology major and aspire to be a counselor. I confess I’ve not had the emotional reserve to contribute much to my on-line support groups lately. I’ve been functioning more as a voyeur. I easily become lost in cyber-world connections because I am immeasurably grateful and needy of the instant family of support that unites us all.
So back to the story.
I finally have time to make tuna-fish and I grab a jar of mayo out of the pantry. I bought it from the warehouse store so it’s a big one. I decide I should check the expiration date and I feel the tears come. That is one of the many love things Dennis always did for me.
As a full-time student and a single Mom consumed by life and other no need to mentionables, time is a resource I never have enough of. Dennis went through my pantry once and found things 3 years old (gasp) and made it a mission of his to keep me healthy by keeping my pantry current. So, I start to open the jar, but it’s too big for my hands. I can’t do it. I blubber as I curse him for checking out on me. And as I’m sobbing, aching from the anguish I’ve been stifling as I go through the motions of life, missing the arms and warmth and protection of my guy, I’m also laughing and irate at how grief is just so relentless in every nuance of my life.
Part of me wants to be angry at the menace of grief, but another part of me treasures the thoughts that are both painful and the most loving at the same time. This is what grief does. Sometimes I think the pain lingers because I don’t want to lose all the memories. I just don’t want to lose any more. The mayonnaise jar moves me to tears of happiness because he loved me so. So tenderly, so-just-right-for-me. The mayonnaise jar moves me to tears because I don’t have him anymore ~just the memories~ of the love he gave me.
I was able to open the jar, remember to check the date and continue on amidst laughter and tears.
Violating a Social Norm
I’ve discovered I am a prankster, not through this assignment though. I’ve coined the phrase that I believe humor is the flip side of critical thinking. I see things differently and often wonder, what if? When considering ideas for the assignment, I wanted something with a bit more shock value. I often find myself jumping up and down in a checkout line because I usually have to go to the bathroom, and it’s worse in the winter. I have also been known to break into the song, “If you don’t know me by now….” in a crowded elevator. It has elicited laughter and usually breaks the tension. If people entered with stoic blank public expressions, they leave with smiles. I often wonder what the people waiting outside the elevator door think when we exit smiling. So when I was given permission to violate a social norm, I immediately knew what I wanted to try.
I have commented to a few of my older children that some day, I wanted to stand at the bottom of the escalator near the baggage claim with the limo drivers who hold up signs with the name of the party they are contracted for; only I wanted a sign that read something humorous, that would catch patrons off guard…just to see the reaction I would get. I ended up going with 3 options: Kidney for Sale, Mr. Right, and I’m here for YOU! For some reason none of my daughters wanted to come with me.
I had fun introducing myself to the people at the base of the escalator, two of which were drivers. They seemed to find the situation or the potential scenario amusing. I hesitated with the kidney sign and ended up not using it at all. I think it had great shock value, but I was more concerned about offending someone. As a licensed massage therapist who went through a medical massage program, I’d spent time with people forced to live on dialysis. It’s no laughing matter. I am sensitive to the plight of others and just didn’t feel comfortable exploiting someone else’s misfortune to fulfill my intention.
I must say I was inhibited to hold up Mr. Right. I didn’t want to look desperate or like I was soliciting. But then I chose to adopt the thought that I could be meeting my boyfriend and this was a joke for him. That mindset gave me the courage to endure the scowls from women and grins from men. I was also deliberately avoided (eye contact) and some people just didn’t get it or find it funny. No one said anything negative to me directly, but I sensed it might have sparked comments. Two guys did ask if I found him or was still looking.
My maiden name was Wright and my dad was a ladies man. He had a nametag he wore for work. He told me he used the line, “Didn’t your mother tell you you’d meet me some day?” That must be where my sense of humor originated from and why I’ve wanted to act out the fantasy! The other sign didn’t have as strong a reaction. The consensus was more of confused bewilderment mixed with polite smiles. I was pressed for time and didn’t hang around for another onslaught of people. I came away with a lot of reflection about myself. The public response was in line with my expectations. I definitely felt gender bias in reactions from women compared to men. I’m sure my age and self-concept allowed for my ability to risk. I also believe I have acquired strength and conviction to “stand alone” with regard to concepts that aren’t as light and amusing.