My grandparents and I shared a really close bond. It could had been because I was the youngest of three kids, and their sons had not had any children yet, so they probably wanted to saver the fun of having a grandchild for a little extra time. My grandmother, in particular, had a really great sense of humor, and loved to laugh. I think that’s where I got my ability to laugh at even the worse of circumstances. But, every so often, I fell into a trap of Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), or worse, my feelings were hurt. I was a sensitive child and even the most innocent remarks could send me to the corner where I would nurse my wounds in private.
One afternoon, I had been at the community swimming pool with my sister who was seven years older. As you can imagine, a 15 year old didn’t want to hang with her sister who was 8, while trying to be cool in front of the local high schoolers. I was escorted to the little-kid pool and tried to make friends there. Except, no one wanted to be my friend. I remember trying to talk to some kids and they just looked at me as if I were from outer space. So, I just sat on the ledge of the baby pool and looked at my feet as if it didn’t matter. We stayed there for the rest of the afternoon, and made it back to my grandparent’s house for dinner. I was quiet and went into the bathroom and cried. I felt lonesome, sad and friendless. And I had a sunburn.
My grandmother, in all of her wisdom, knew something was wrong and could tell by my swollen eyes that I had been crying. She asked what was wrong and I sputtered out some words….sad…lonesome…no one wanted to be my friend. The end of the world for an 8 year old.
And thus, the Pity Party was born.
She set my little picnic table in the back yard with little teacups and saucers. She then poured some Kool-Aid into the cups and put a big piece of her famous chocolate cake on a small plate.
“Let’s have a Pity Party and get this over with“…
Over the course of the next few minutes my grandmother sat with me and poured me ‘tea’ and shared the cake with me. She explained to me that life was always going to throw me moments of disappointment, moments that make me cry and I should always, always honor that moment. But, she also told me the appropriate time for a Pity Party was exactly 60 minutes. After that time, we had to clear the table and in doing so, the thing we were sad about would be cleared with it.
In a way, I think my Granny was a guru before her time. Even though she only went through fourth grade (the farm needed field hands in rural Georgia), she had wisdom beyond her education.
As I’ve muddled through life, I’ve always remembered that afternoon when life has thrown me obstacles I thought I’d never mount. But, somehow the sun always rises, the birds still sing and the table is cleared.
Honor you Pity Party when necessary. Have the biggest piece of Chocolate Cake you can stomach, but after 60 minutes, clear the table, and your troubles.
Thank you Granny, I miss you.