Sunday, November 4, 2012

Meatloaf Matters

Some stories are not mine, but they should be told anyway. For the record, my brother gave me permission to tell this story, so I hope I get it right. One of my other brothers, D, has his own blog and is starting to tell his own stories. I really like that.
Not this meatloaf
My next younger brother, B, is a warrior. There’s no better term for it. Oh, he adapted to civilization well enough, and as a young man was adept at the saxophone, but King David was also a warrior and he composed all the Psalms, so the two skills are not incompatible.
B is married to a Treasure. When B first met L they were both in high school. He asked her out, they had a good enough time, but when he dropped her off at her house afterwards he told her that he would marry her. Understandably, that freaked her out and she refused to date him again. She dated some of his high-school friends, but never again went out with him.
B left high school and did what all males in our family do – he enlisted. (I am the oldest, but failed the physical and ended up going to college. That’s an entirely different story.) As a Navy man B flew in planes and took pictures of the ocean and Russian submarines. It’s confidential and he can’t tell us the whole story or he has to kill us.
Since he was Naval Air and taking pictures in the Pacific, B was stationed in Hawaii. As we all said at the time, a tough job, but someone has to do it.
I’m not sure which Christmas vacation it was, but B came home to visit Mom and Dad. Mom mentioned that L was home from school and B called her. They went out. Next thing we all knew, L moved to Hawaii to finish school at the University of Hawaii. She and B were married. 
B was deployed for a number of weeks on a rock island somewhere around the east coast of Africa. He returned to a surprise welcome home dinner, hand made by his young bride. Not knowing any better, L made him meatloaf and a special mint-chocolate cake.
Well, if you know anything about our Mom’s cooking, you know that meatloaf was not a well-loved dish in our household. Of all of us, I think B hated meatloaf the most. To top it off, he doesn’t like mint-chocolate either.
Sitting down to dinner with his new wife B expressed his disinterest in the meal. I wasn’t there, but I suspect he was his usual blunt self. Without a word L stood up, grabbed the dishes and dumped the food into the garbage disposal. 
Not an auspicious homecoming.
Now, I’ve been married three times, two of which ended unhappily. I’ve learned a few things.
  1. Whenever someone does something nice for you, express your deepest appreciation for what they did. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to like the person or have an on-going relationship with them, but appreciate what they did in an honest fashion.
  2. Always watch your tongue. Proverbs 21:23 says “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” I’ve found that to be true in my life, usually by not watching what I say and ending up in a bad situation (many times too often for my tender years, I might add).
  3. If you do fail at this, and you will, then apologize immediately and correct the problem. Don’t justify your position. I’ve said for years that when someone says “I’m sorry, but...” it isn’t a true apology. Be bigger than that and braver than that.
I don’t know how B and L resolved that particular issue. They did though. They have been married for a long, long time, through good times and bad, and have three amazing children (and an awesome older brother!). 
I can summarize this with another verse from the Bible, from a book seldom read because it is so short: Titus 3:2 says “to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”
Thanks, Titus. That’s an excellent recipe for life. Much better than Mom's meatloaf.

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