Skip to main content
This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Things I did today: workexerciselaundrycookclean.

Things I didn’t do today: think of a word.

Nothing inspired me this morning. Nothing presented itself this afternoon. I had a very un-word-project-like day.

But a word found me.

It happened when a box got delivered to my door. For once, it wasn’t to me, from me, via Amazon Prime.

It turned out to be a gift from my sister-in-law, a bucket of Hello Kitty for Valentine’s Day.

Technically she is not my sister-in-law if you go by the whole “must be married to a sibling” thing. But “my brother’s girlfriend” isn’t quite right, either. I mean, they’re a fixture, a matched set, an entity that comes to holiday dinner as a unit.

Girlfriend is someone you maybe sit next to on the couch and talk about your jobs. Sister-in-law is the person you already had the fights with so now you’re cool and she sends you Hello Kitties.

Technically we didn’t have a fight, either.

We just had a bitchdown.

Years ago, when my grandmother’s health was declining, and you never knew when she’d take it in her head to drag the garbage pails out to the curb even though they were twice her size and probably four times her weight, my parents asked me to come to the house and stay with her for a week so they could take a vacation.

Well, my parents asked me to come to the house and stay with her because they wanted to take grandma on vacation with them, but grandma absolutely, positively, vehemently, adamantly refused to go.

It was a thing.

So Ralph and I packed up and went to stay with her.

Enter my sister-in-law, who may or may not want me using her name on my blog, so I’ll just call her Serina.

At the time Serina had been basically full-time taking care of grandma. This, even more than coming to holiday dinner as a matched set, is why the whole “being married to a sibling” thing isn’t the real thing. The real thing is taking care of your boyfriend’s late-stage-dementia grandmother, who could barely shower on her own, certainly couldn’t cook for herself, and repeated whatever she said to you at least fourteen hundred billion dozen times.

But Serina was going on the family vacation, too, even if grandma wasn’t. Which is why the granddaughter was called in.

The only problem was that Serina wasn’t swayed by grandma’s protestations about not going on vacation. So she just kept cheerfully telling grandma that in a few days they were going on their magical and fun family vacation together. And grandma kept telling me that she didn’t understand why Serina was being so mean.

For the next few days, as the family minus grandma prepared for their vacation, one happily, the other frownily, I repeatedly reminded grandma of two fundamental things: one, I didn’t know why Serina was being so mean, and two, she didn’t have to go on the mean, nasty vacation, because I, granddaughter, had arrived to save her from it.

The first bitchdown I had with Serina went something like this:

She doesn’t want to go. I’ll stay here with her.

So grandma didn’t go.

The second and final bitchdown I had with Serina was one night when she came home with a bag of groceries and announced that she was making sauce for everyone for dinner. It went something like this:

I’m making dinner tonight. You can make sauce tomorrow.

It’s kind of funny and ridiculous now, but there was a certain tension between “person who is there 24/7 taking care of grandma” and “prodigal granddaughter who just showed up and took over.”

At my grandmother’s funeral, I thanked Serina for taking such good care of her, because I meant it. I told her that my grandmother loved her, because she did. My grandmother talked about her all the time, and how “good” she was. Except, of course, for that one time.

Since then Serina and I have gotten along nicely and she has gone on to expand my Hello Kitty collection.

So when I opened the box to find a Hello Kitty Valentine, I knew what today’s word would be. Thoughtful.

Something I am not always. It’s way too easy to get caught up in… well, everything. The mayhem, the routine, the busy, the procrastination, the misprioritization. It’s something I aspire to, but it turns out to require thought.

So when someone is thoughtful, it’s remarkable to me. It’s not something I take for granted. It inspires me to do a little better.

It takes so little to make a difference in someone’s day. Not long ago, I mailed (mailed, with an actual stamp) a note to an aging family member. He hasn’t been feeling well so I penned a few words of greeting and sent it off. For the next week, I heard from multiple family members about how delighted he was, and how he had hung the card up to look at. I didn’t even have to try that hard.

That’s the thing about being thoughtful. It’s so simple, if only you’d think about it. It’s having the wherewithal to stop and think about it where things fall apart. A bucket of Hello Kitty today reminded me how nice it is when someone thinks of you. It was a smile in an otherwise tedious day, a little flash of sunshine, a bubble of happiness.

I mean, to be fair, Serina is still pretty bitchy, but it’s one of the things I love about her now. A case could be made that I’m pretty bitchy, too. But once in a while even I send out a Hello Kitty.

Photo: today’s Hello Kitty gift.