1/29/2010

The Lovely, Sunny South

I was whimpering just a few days ago about having to give up on my plant & seed hunting trip to Thailand. I just couldn't make the schedule work, but I need a plant fix, and some warmth. With winter storms predicted, and my dread of more winter, I headed south from the Ozarks on Thursday morning, with the goal of making it to Tampa by Saturday, well ahead of the ice, snow and more cold. I'd hoped to be bringing you news of some great plant finds and some very cool thrift shop bargains. Funny how life moves.

I made it as far as a motel in Germantown, just outside Memphis, Tennessee by Thursday night. My truck transmission was slipping, the storm was fast approaching and I was tired. I thought I would get up early and head on south and east and keep ahead of the blizzard. But morning revealed ice covering everything and the storm had extended down into Mississippi and Alabama, just where I was intending to drive.

Pausing in the Comfort Suites Motel lobby to have some coffee, I visited with a couple of the patrons, trying to decide whether to risk the weather, and the ailing truck transmission and try to keep driving. Then I met Melverdia, who works at the motel desk. What she told me had a strong effect on my entire day.

Melverdia is a remarkable woman, although I'm certain she is too modest to ever agree. She's had lots of challenges in her life. She retired from working at a prison, certainly a stressful job. She's lost a brother to cancer and agent orange, has grown and changed through her years, with challenges that would flatten many people. So what is it that Melverdia said to me that affected my day so thoroughly?

First I have to tell you more about my day, in order to appreciate her words. Picture it, my suitcase full of short sleeved shirts and shorts, sunblock, a listing of plant nurseries and no thoughts of winter, and I'm stranded in an ice and snow storm. Add in the fact the best pickup truck ever, has a transmission problem. And imagine I've just visited the Toyota dealer down the street to learn that it will cost more than $4,000 to fix the problem, but the rebuilt transmission has to come from Ohio, and they're out of stock and won't be able to ship another for at least a week. Imagine, if you will, my 2001 pickup is barely worth twice the cost of the new transmission. Do you see the sands of Florida slipping through my fingers? This could have been a very bad day.

Melverdia said to me, "Every day is a good day for me. People come in here and say what a bad day they're having and I tell them there may be challenges to deal with, but that doesn't mean it has to be a bad day. My friends say every day can't be a good day and I tell them it is. I wake up every morning and say to God, thank you for an another day. It's good to be alive."

We talked for a good while and I mostly listened. Melverdia certainly wasn't preaching, I had to ask questions to learn abougt her life, but she kindly shared what she had learaned. She said she grew up in a house where her mother had to work hard and could barely feed the family, but through it all, she never had a bad day. She could always smile, could always find something to be thankful for, and always understood that attitude is a choice. You can choose to see life half empty, or you can simply see that it's actually always filling up. Challenges will come and go, you grow stronger and learn form them all, but you can choose to have a good day.

So I went out into the storm and tackled the day, knowing the ice will melt, the problems will be solved and somewhere I'll find warm beaches and gardens to visit. Thank you, Melverdia, you showed me how to have a very good day!

5 comments:

Steven Anthony said...

what a beautiful lesson for us all, I tend to be a glass half empty type person, I think I will try adoppting her attitude from now on...

peace my friend

Jenny said...

I just love to encounter people like this. There are more in the world than we realize I think too.

I recently read a book by Mark Sanborn called The Fred Factor. He talks about people like Melverdia & how important they are. It really makes me want to be that way too.

Grumpy Gardener said...

Obviously, Melverdia could never work in a Wal-Mart.

Rhonda said...

When I read your post it reminded me of that saying,"When the student is ready the teacher appears."

Melverdia showed up exactly where you needed her to be that day...
Or maybe you showed up that day for a lesson?

Either way, don't you just love those serendipitous encounters?

Rhonda said...

Grumpy, I'm sure you are correct. Bless her heart, Melverdia never would have passed the required Crank-o-meter test.