For those of you women of the same vintage as I, you probably recall enjoying the madcap mishaps of America’s favorite dingbat, Edith Bunker, on the popular seventies’ sitcom All in the Family. One episode explored Edith’s not-so-fun meandering into menopause. In the end, her husband, Archie, just as exasperated as she by her mid-life metamorphosis, waved his hands wildly over her and demanded with utter abracadabra immediacy, “Okay, Edith, so change already!!” And as far as he was concerned, that was that!
Except that it wasn’t …
Ask my husband Michael. While he could have naively (and wrongly) presumed that my little changes in mood, memory, and metabolism would have been just a blip on my hormonal calendar, he decided to settle in for the long haul and consider this a new phase of marital adventure. Since he never knows what’s coming next, he has maintained a sense of humor and a “this will be fun” (to see what she’ll do next) kind of attitude.
Take the time I locked the key in my car in the library parking lot on a sweltering day. Mike immediately left work and rushed to my rescue, only to hear me sheepishly apologize when I held up the spare key that had been hiding in my purse all along.
Michael and I encountered another parking-lot incident, and this time he rescued me over the phone. After a concert at our symphony hall, my mother and I dashed to the car on the parking lot, eager to leave because my daughter, Sheridan’s, school was soon to let out. Suddenly I realized I needed an alternate driving route to avoid the traffic snarl entangling around the hall and to circumvent a highway shut-down nearby. The only alternate routes I knew wound through unsafe areas.
Luckily, Mother was able to reach Mike by cellphone at his work, and served as my relay, freeing me to drive. As I slowly serpentined my car through the crowded parking lot, Michael and I conversed via my mother, who repeated each of our lines to the other.
“But Mike, I don’t want to drive on Grand. The traffic line is endless. Mother and I will be late in getting Sheridan.”
“Okay,” he said. “Go to Spring, then turn south.”
“Which way is south? Is that right or left?”
“South. I don’t do right and left. I use cardinal directions. Go south.”
“Michael, but I don’t do north and south! Which way is south?”
“Mike!! Right or left?!”
“Okay, okay. So go … er … um … turn left.”
“That’s right. Left.”
“LEFT! Left on Spring!”
This ridiculous, dizzying dialogue ping-ponged back and forth (from me to Mother to Michael to Mother to me!) for some time, as I tried to visualize a roadmap so I could remember my navigator’s directions. My mentalpause confusion worsened by the moment. But things came into sudden vivid relief when I heard his smart-aleck coworker yell in the background: “Hey, Mike, didn’t you get her a GPS for Christmas?”
Oops. Oh yeah. My GPS. “Sorry, Michael, I forgot to plug it in.”
Before I could hear his response, mercifully, Mother lost the connection.
“Mother!” I lamented. “Can you believe that he put me on speaker phone? I’ve just become the star of another Lynni-Lucy vignette. He loves telling them. I. am. mortified! He keeps exposing me as some screwball scatterbrain.”
That said, the truth is that I have no trouble in supplying him with far-fetched story fodder.
But my biggest mentalpause mishap was yet to come. One night I was up burning the midnight oil typing, racing to meet a writing deadline. When I heard Michael padding down the hall. I felt guilty about waking him. Sensing his presence, I looked up and saw him standing, a little dazed, in the doorway to my study.
“Lynni,” he said. “Do you know it’s after midnight?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, baby. I’ll come to bed soon, but I have to finish or I’ll miss this deadline.”
“And, Lynni, do you know that the lights are on?”
“Oh, Michael, I’m so sorry. I should have shut the door. I apologize that the light woke you.”
“And, Lynni, do you know that you are sitting there typing without your top on?”
“Well, yes, dear, of course I know. I had another one of those horrible hot-flashes, so I just ripped it off. Honestly! What difference does it make? Please, baby, let me get back to work. I’m so sleepy.”
“And, Lynni, do you further know that the blinds are up in your window?”
Considering that the window to my study faces the street, with this question, I crumbled helplessly into a heap, exposed once more, slid down the back of my chair, and crawled out of my room and on to bed.
To this day, this infamous incident is known in our family as the night that Lynni hot-flashed the neighbors. My only comfort is that they were all asleep.
And on and on it goes, one mentalpause mishap after another—enough to give a woman pause or to send her running (though if she’s overheated, maybe not for cover)! Still maybe … just maybe, if you’re mentalpause mishapping yourself, you really can pause, take a deep breath, and do what my husband does: Keep your God-given sense of humor. Take your mishaps in stride. Focus on your true GPS—your God Positioning System—navigating by Jesus, your true-north Morning Star, and expose your heart to Him through heartfelt prayer and praise. He is always there to listen, to encourage, and to guide you safely home.
Lynn D. Morrissey
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