I Hope I’m Half the Person She is when I’m Old
My mother-in-law is one of those people you admire and hope to be like when you’re her age. Or anywhere near her age. Or even the age you are now.
She puts together these huge “care packages” for our family. You can send up to 10 kilos (about 22 pounds). She has a scale and will put in one more (or less) Donald Duck paperback for the boys if she’s under or over. It’s a big box. Every time one arrives, it’s basically Christmas all over again.
Her memory is sharp as a tack. I can’t remember what I just wrote in that first paragraph, she can remember that we bought a blue paisley button down shirt last summer in the village so maybe this sweater would go well with that. The sweater will be in the box. Who knows that? Who does that? Who thinks of others like that?
She taught me, through example, how much more pleasure you can get out of giving (than receiving).
Did you catch that? You can pleasure out of giving. So you give, which usually is joy for someone else, but at the same time, you also enjoy. Weird math, right? Minus one plus one plus one … or something. It seems to add up one act into two. It breaks the rules of mathematics in that you end up with more than you started with: two people are happy with one act.
Today there were Borrelnootjes and Oud Amsterdam (for me, yippee!). Hmm, how to explain borrelnootjes. Translated, they’re “party nuts.” I suppose that’s what they are. They are peanuts baked in some sort of crust and this crust can have different flavors: spicy, provincial, smoky, etc. I like the regular ones most, but they’re all good.
Oud Amsterdam is an aged cheese that is basically heaven in wax wrapping. Speaking of sharing and giving, this I don’t share. Well, unless it’s something I know you’ll enjoy or truly appreciate. I won’t give it to the kids, they can have a hunk of mild cheddar and they’re happy. This is a rich, salty, old world thin slice of pure ecstasy. I’m understating it to keep it clean …
There are Donald Duck comic books for the boys (even the latest edition, #217), wrapped packages for our 7-year old’s upcoming birthday, even komijnekaas for my wife (her favorite cheese and extremely hard–if even possible–to find here). Oddball items that you can’t find here (well, not with Dutch designs on them): napkins, cups, salt … we haven’t actually figured out why she sends salt. It’s fun to go through it all. It’s fun to think of her buying the items from the shops in the past few weeks, bringing them home and collecting a good 10 kilos worth to send next.
I hope I have kids I want to send gifts to when I’m 84. I hope I get to 84. I hope I have grandkids who will want to read Donald Duck comic books. Of course, by then … oh who knows, who cares. It’ll be fun. Who gets packages these days? Imagine in another 40 years how special it will be to get a package? Who knows. Who cares. If it’s fun for the giver and fun for the receiver, it’s 1 = 2. It’s good math.
She’s 84. She should be whining about her back pain or arthritis. She’s more annoyed that she’s more tired than she used to be so she can’t do as much. She cares more about you than … you probably care about yourself. She goes on vacation and only buys things for other people. But she also knows people and knows what they want. What they truly want, like, and enjoy. She knows, she listens, she pays attention, she remembers. She’s basically a super hero.