Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Good, The Big, And The Ugly

The Good, the Big, and the Ugly

By Allison Adams 01-09-10, Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 01-10-10

Last March I was in Nashville to attend the funeral of my husband’s beloved cousin, Libby. As the family gathered in the church parlor to receive friends on the evening before the funeral service, one of Libby’s dear girlfriends paid her respects, and also presented each of the women in the family with a beautiful embroidered linen handkerchief. Until that moment I’d never owned one.

As she handed me what would be my handkerchief, she said something very touching, like even somber occasions deserve the best we have.

Her gift was extremely thoughtful – a perfectly lovely gesture – but as they say, you don’t send a boy to do a man’s job. A fine linen handkerchief is no match for the output generated by a good, big, ugly cry. No sir.

Fortunately I had already had several good, big, ugly cries in the days and weeks leading up to, and in anticipation of, that somber occasion, so I was pretty much tapped-out. That handkerchief served me well none-the-less. It was my security blanket, which I clutched tightly in my hand throughout the funeral service.

If I had an endless supply of wishes at my disposal, I would spend one wishing that I could cry like Judy Garland did when she played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

Remember the close-up? Remember Dorothy’s big-as-teacup-saucer eyes with perfectly formed teardrops singularly streaming down the apples of her cheekbones?

I’ve never had sparkling teardrops fall from the apples of my cheekbones.

I tend to stifle my weepy moments. I save them up for a time when I can really do them justice – privately. Perhaps it has something to do with the sheer force of the pent up emotions that have been ignited by one thing in particular, but when I cry its an event. A big event. A natural disaster.

When I cry my nose becomes big, bulbous, and fire engine-red. As one would expect, its output is commensurate with its size and color.

My mascara runs. My facial expressions are disfiguring. Slobber dribbles from every hole in my head. My appendages flail about, unless I’m tucked in a fetal position. My words are unrecognizable because they are spat out in between sobs.

With charm and class, and with understated waterworks, Dorothy wept daintily. Almost certainly, she wept into a beautiful embroidered linen handkerchief.

I’m a Kleenex girl, and I had a good, big, ugly cry today.

Like a seasoned meteorologist following a massive storm system, I detected the threat of my good, big, ugly cry several days ago. Due to a number of somewhat emotional events in recent weeks – the reaction to which I had suppressed – I recognized that I was a walking upper-level low-pressure system. A slow-moving tropical depression.

Like any responsible citizen preparing for a natural disaster, I took precautionary steps. I made sure to buy a case of Kleenex the last time I was at the grocery store. I unpacked the case, and opened each box, taking care to pick out the edge of the first tissue so it was ready to be grabbed. I strategically scattered the boxes throughout my house.

First thing this morning, I issued a public service announcement.

“I’m going to have a good, big, ugly cry today” I said. “It will most likely begin as a torrential downpour, and then continue intermittently throughout the day.

“Please beware that random eye contact, or a seemingly innocent remark, or a well-meaning embrace could arbitrarily trigger a sudden downpour. Consider yourselves warned. It’s every man for himself. That is all.”

I took one Kleenex box and unloaded it into the pockets of my apron, and my blue jeans. I topped-off by tucking massive quantities of tissues up the sleeves of the sweater I was wearing. I was armed and ready.

I watched as my daughter finished packing her belonging into her car. She took a quick survey of the house just to be sure she had everything.

We held each other’s faces, spoke I-Love-You’s, and hugged and kissed each other goodbye. She slipped into the driver’s seat of her car, started the engine, eased out of the driveway, and then drove down the street and out of sight.

As I watched her disappear, I reached up into my sleeve, grabbed a handful of Kleenex, and let her rip.

This was no job for a beautiful embroidered linen handkerchief. No sir.

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