Chris and I were talking this morning about how heavy things feel, for all of us. None of us [or very few of us] are completely insulated from what's happening with the economy. It's a difficult, stressful time and not knowing what the next several months will bring, compounds the heaviness.
There are always things for which we are thankful. We know this. And after we have discussions where we review the worst case scenarios, we take a breath and remind ourselves of the good things.
Mom and Dad lived for a few years in Caracas, Venezuela right after Chris and I were married. As a Christmas gift one year, Dad flew Chris, my brother Mallory Joe and me to South America for a couple of weeks. I think it was a gift for Mom and Dad too.
On the surface, everything appeared wonderful. Mom had spent much of her childhood in the Philippines so she spoke Spanish well and had experience living as an expat. Mom and Dad lived in a beautiful penthouse apartment overlooking the new U.S. Embassy, had a full-time driver, maid and memberships to a prestigious country club. Two months prior to the move Dad had been diagnosed with kidney cancer, had surgery to remove a kidney and was sent to Venezuela with a clean bill of health. Life is good! Right? Well...
Mom's birthday is three days before Christmas and she was turning 50 that year. She missed her friends, understandably. Navigating life in a foreign country where only 3% of the people spoke English [statistic per Mother, at the time], required her to rely on the Spanish she hadn't used for years and it exhausted her. We were out for lunch one day and she was trying to order sandwiches for all of us. She became frustrated, looked at me and said, "I can't remember how the hell to say mustard in Spanish. Can we lose the mustard?"
One afternoon, Dad was at work, Chris and my brother Mallory Joe were playing ping-pong, drinking Venezuelan beer [Polar tasted good. Chris and Mallory Joe consumed it daily while playing ping-pong.] and Mom and I were sneaking a smoke on her veranda.
Mom said, "I don't know what to do. This has just been so difficult."
We discussed various solutions, all involving travel and being away from Dad longer than she felt was reasonable. She recognized she was tired and in a funk due to the many life stressors she'd just endured. A major move, culture shock, a husband with a cancer diagnosis, finding homes for three animals she loved dearly prior to the move, turning 50, and missing her family and friends. She knew she simply needed to keep moving forward.
She vented about the difficulties of living in Caracas. There were many - all legitimate.
I said, "But Mom, there are some neat things about living here. Can you think of just three good things?"
"The birds are beautiful. I love seeing parrots and macaws flying. Free."
"And the orchids. I can grow orchids on my veranda. I've never been able to grow orchids like this. Aren't they beautiful?" [Mom has always loved gardening, so this was important and valued.]
Finally she said, "And when your father and I go out to eat, and I order a drink... anywhere... they bring you the whole bottle, even if it's Grey Goose, and set it right. On. The. Table."