I got a call last week.
It was Dorothy on the phone.
Do you remember the therapist with the seven bags and all those hats? She is the one I went with to the writer’s conference. I don’t know if it was the best time or the worse time for her to call, but I think she got cured.
I don’t think I did.
I’ve never had a great bedside manner. My Sweet Al is the nurturing one in our family. When people call, he listens. I am more the get-up-and-quit-whining nurse.
I have always lived life in a hurry. I am finishing my first novel, I think I have two more books in me, I have articles to write, a website to construct, and a series of paintings I want to paint.
Along the way, I’ve been working on my bedside manner, but apparently to no avail.
Dorothy says, “We are coming to Pagosa for Thanksgiving, will you have time to paint?”
“Yes, I’m teaching at Wyndham. Just sign up.”
Then she says, “Please pray for me. My sister is coming and is bringing a friend. I don’t like my sister’s friend.”
“Tell your sister she can’t bring her friend.”
“Oh, I can’t do that. I’ll just have to put up with her. And she always wants to decorate. I don’t like the way she decorates. She always takes over.”
“Whose timeshares are they?” I asked.
My first thought was, if you have paid for these timeshares, then you have a right to invite who you want. It is your Thanksgiving.
Then she stopped me with her next words. “My sister’s friend always tries to do all the cooking. My daughter and her family will be in Pagosa and I want to cook for them.”
“You live a block from your daughter in Denver, cook for them there.”
“Well, I want it to be special.”
I said, “Do you hear yourself? You’ve got a control issue.”
“I do?,” she said, astounded at such a foreign thought.
“Yes, you do. Get a grip. If your sister’s friend wants to do all the work, decorate and cook, let her. She’s not coming into your home; it is like a nice motel away from home for a week. Who cares? It’s no big deal. Let her have at it. Take the time and enjoy being with your daughter and her family. Take your daughter out to lunch. Stay out of the kitchen. Or, come and paint with me.”
She didn’t hear me. She went on. Now, mind you, my friend is 79 years old and her husband is 84. She says, “My sister’s friend flirts with my husband, Bob. I don’t like it.”
I came unglued. “Oh, please, get over it. You’ve been married 60 years. Do you think Bob is going to leave you? Bob is an old man. Don’t you trust him yet? Poor Bob, you have probably controlled him his whole married life, too.”
“How long are you going to let this control spirit drag you around and drag poor Bob, too? You need to deal with it.”
Then I went to preaching. “Do you remember Laban?”
“Jacob, the deceiver met a bigger deceiver, Laban, to teach him a lesson. You have just met a more controlling person than you are in your sister’s friend. She is your Laban.”
“Thanks, I need to hear this. I’m glad I called. I need to pray.”
“Yes, we all need to pray.”
I got off the phone, laughed and said to Al, “I can’t believe this conversation. At seventy-nine years old, why would someone be jealous of their eighty-four year-old husband? They’ve been married for sixty years. Haven’t they learned to trust each other? She is still controlling her husband.”
My sweet Al looks at me, speechless.
Then I go on. “God help us all. It takes a life time getting our act together, but apparently even a therapist, with her diplomas and credentials, hasn’t gotten her stuff together either. Who’s the doctor, anyway?”
Final brushstroke: Yesterday isn’t soon enough to deal with the problem.
“If I accept you as you are, I will make you worse; however, if I treat you as though you are what you are capable of becoming, I help you become that.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, author.
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