“This I Believe—With Pinball Poignancy”
“Pull up your britches…no harm done…put on your smile…”—phrases I heard often in my childhood. They rattled in my head dropping like a gumball into the silver tray; these words dropped into my beliefs, my core, my inner cavity.
Scraped knee, tears streaming, a tight hug, a band-aid and then the “britches” comment. It was time now to be brave and stand the 7-year-old tall I was. This harnesses me as if strength were suspenders holding me up. I helped raised three teenagers not my own, survived two deaths of parents, and then encountered the saddest loss—our little girl. Grief is allowed I learned but bravery must prevail. The work ethic of “digging in” even in sorrow carries me and I believe in its power.
Broken glass at dinner, spilled milk seeping across the red linen, Christmas tablecloth, my parents quickly get up to remedy the mess and then say the words that I now say to my son, to guests, to family. “No harm done” is true and resonates the value of being together and the replace ability of material goods. Arguing with my mom, pillow damp from teenage tears, these words also comforted me and the “I’m sorry” became so easy to say. “No harm done” allows for mistakes in life and is always followed by forgiveness. I believe my ability to look past people’s unkind ways, accepting them is a treasure that started from a simple gesture over spilled milk.
I remember breaking up with my first “serious” boyfriend, heart-broken and my mom telling me to “Put on a smile” as I walk down the hallway at school the next day. “Just be nice and you’ll feel better.” The drama of high school and college friendships became easier as I learned my mom was right; smiling, finding humor in relationships instead of finding faults became second nature. I believe my smile teaches kindness and creates a lifestyle that doesn’t take oneself too seriously.
Three simple phrases turned into priceless mantras about being brave, being empathetic, and being humble—a resiliency that is like a pinball bouncing through me. My parents’ patient words seem simple and I believe truly formed me. I will pull the spring-loaded lever of life to impact this to my child and hopefully these words will rattle and settle within him.
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