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Friday Compassion [Feb. 20th, 2009|07:50 am]
Mollycoddle. We don't use that word enough anymore. And I think we should.

Sarah Bernhardting. Another word not used enough, although I think we only used it as a verb in my family. When someone, looking for attention, sympathy, consoling, wafts about the house/office, sighing, draping themselves against doorframes, leaning dramatically on furniture, perhaps a whimper here or there during some physical task. As in "when you're done Sarah Bernhardting, do you think you could help me with the groceries?" or "Okay, Sarah Bernhardt, take an aspirin and let's get on with our lives."

Whoops, too late. No seriously, it's a fleeting thing. Are ya shocked? It's in my nature and my nurture. Unless it's bleeding, bent at a really wrong angle, or hotter than 103 degrees, my family's motto is "have an aspirin/piece of fruit/glass of juice and walk it off." If you're busy, you won't have time to feel bad. Feeling sorry for yourself never made anyone feel better.

I was visting my grandmother once, when she'd become frail and had to move in with my great-aunt and uncle, and I wound up sitting in the living room between grandmother, who had been a fiercely independent woman for decades, living alone, scaling palm trees to trim them by hand and was sorely resenting living with someone else and not being able to DO things (Ring a bell?) and Great-Uncle, who's been dying since he was 35, but at the age of 83 had managed to live a full life of complaining and yes, Sarah Bernhardting. And had already sat through a half an hour of "you don't know how hard it is to be old" (thanks for the preview) and "life isn't worth living" and other really uplifting things. When my grandmothter said "Helmut, you know where we belong?" And my great-uncle said "No, Mina, where do we belong?" "Six feet under, Helmut, that's where we belong."

And I sort of snapped. And said "You know, there's a dock right there in the backyard. You could walk off the end and save everyone a lot of trouble. If it's really that bad." Because, again, my empathy pouch, it is quite small.

Which raised quite a ruckus, let me tell you. But I held firm -- let's face it, at a certain point, quit yer bitching and get on with it. It sucks to get old, yeah, I get it. And if I'm lucky, I'll live to find out about it. (?) But either it's so bad that you should just end it. Or, quit complaining and just accept it. Think about something else for heaven's sake.

And that's why your grandchildren don't come and visit. Hel-loo-ooo? It takes a special kind of martyr to sit there through the previews of how much my life is going to suck when I get to be your age. Or someone in complete denial who thinks that genetics have nothing to do with it. I hurt NOW, old lady, and I'm half your age. Which means it will probably be WORSE for me. Hey, I'M the one who needs cheering up here. You're depressing me, you're bringing me down, you're eating up my possible inheritance, raising my taxes and stretching medical resources thin. I'm not 100% German, it's not my duty to listen to you and love you no matter what. Remember that when YOU get old -- you want people to come visit you, pay attention to you, best make it interesting or funny.

My mother and I have a list we made: When I get old I will remember that...no one wants to hear me piss and moan. There are other people on the road and they're in a hurry. MY clothes/music/style were no less ridiculous to old people when I was a teenager, so just shut up. Yes, my medicines are expensive. 20 years ago they didn't have those medicines and I'd just be dead, so either quit taking them, or quit complaining. Global warming may take the ice floes, but there are alternatives. We add to it from time to time. I'm hoping my mother doesn't lose her ability to find it funny.

My mother's mother used to joke about "save a silver bullet for me, sweetheart" and we thought that was great. But that last Christmas she was up to visit and being very, very difficult and had just been particularly mean to my Mom, my mother turned to me and said "How come we never hear about that silver bullet anymore?"

[User Picture]From: im_geva
2009-02-20 01:38 pm (UTC)
Amen, sister.
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[User Picture]From: ferlonda
2009-02-20 01:43 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: terribleturnip
2009-02-20 02:24 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is even funnier now:

Empathy partly based on genes, mouse study shows


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[User Picture]From: pyllgrum
2009-02-20 02:42 pm (UTC)

Good news on ice flows!

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[User Picture]From: lowlandscot
2009-02-20 03:18 pm (UTC)
In my family "Sarah Bernhardting" was called "playing Camille" after Greta Garbo's consumptive courtesan in the George Cukor film of the 1930s. Often with ad lib variations, such as my mother muttering sotto voce at the conclusion of a particularly melodramatic fit of pique by my sister or me: "And introducing newcomer Kathy Harkness in the role of Camille...." Her general view of life was that there was nothing from menstrual cramps to a broken heart that couldn't be fixed by a couple of hours on the back of the hay baler.
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[User Picture]From: queenmaggie
2009-02-23 03:57 pm (UTC)
My father would always murmur "que tossa" from camille: "such a cough!"
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[User Picture]From: chellebelle74
2009-02-20 03:45 pm (UTC)
My mother used to throw out the Sarah Bernhardt reference all the time, thus (mostly) breaking me of my tenedency toward melodrama at a tender age. I haven't heard that reference since she died. It brings up all kinds of fond memories... Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: mistressfetch
2009-02-20 04:57 pm (UTC)
What's the difference in Sarah Bernhardting and Barry Manilowing? *ponder*

Oh and you have a Great Uncle named "Helmut"? Oh, yeah! My love for you has deepened with that one word, Helmut.......

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[User Picture]From: terribleturnip
2009-02-20 06:16 pm (UTC)
Last name...wait for it....


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[User Picture]From: pyllgrum
2009-02-20 06:57 pm (UTC)
And I bet it is pronounced the way it is spelled!

Edited at 2009-02-20 06:57 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: fountaingirl
2009-02-20 04:58 pm (UTC)
LOLOLOL! We do "Norma Desmond" in my house. Hence icon.

I agree with all of the above. You know what? I get that you are old. Do I want or need to hear about your bowel troubles? Um, no. For god's sake. Have some dignity about what comes out of your mouth if nothing else.
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[User Picture]From: skivee
2009-02-20 08:26 pm (UTC)

Norma Desmond

You should really go get the soundtrack album from Sunset Boulevard. The composer wrote perfect "LOOK, I"M EMOTING, HERE" music.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-02-21 04:52 pm (UTC)

Sarah Bernharting...................from the rocketeer!

I think we can take anything from you dear, unless it morphs into SANDRA Bernharting.
Then we'd just pure have to shoot ya! Just say'in.
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