The Ready Room: Readied

We think of preparation as something that we do toward some end.

What if preparation is something that is done to us for some end?

I tend to start out my day, any day, as if I am preparing for some ends.  It could be certain lessons or assessments or meetings at my work as an educator.  It could be projects around the house.  It could be fostering relationships within my life, among family, among friends.

That’s not the way life works out many days.  What happens is that I set out to collect the things outside of and inside of myself which I think I need toward some purpose.  Along the way (some days it is immediately in the day–other days something that happens at the end of the day) things happen, events come together, people and things and unexpected happenings conspire, and the result is that they begin to prepare me toward some end.

Some years ago, I received a phone call.  My grandmother, my dad’s mother, who had been in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s Disease for two years at that point, was at her end.  I was told that if I wanted to visit before she passed, it should be soon.  I dropped everything and went to see my grandmother.  I had been times before after her diagnosis and entry into the care facility.  There were the visits where she knew me, the visits where she needed to be reminded who I was, the visits where she thought I was my father, and then the visits where she just knew me as that nice young man.  On that last day, this woman who had greeted me every day of my childhood into her kitchen with afternoon snacks not only didn’t know me, but for a long time had been unable to talk.  I stood behind her, sitting in her wheelchair, and rubbed her shoulders.  I felt her body relax.  I saw a faint smile on her face.  I began to talk to her, to tell her what she meant to me.  I ended the conversation by telling her that it was okay for her to go home, that her family loved her, that all things were well, that there was nothing left for her to do here.

A whole series of events in my life had been preparing me for that moment.  Going to say goodbye to my grandmother was nowhere on the list of things that I was preparing to do that day.  These many years later, I remember the day clearly, and all I remember is what I had been prepared for–not what I was preparing to do that day.  Later that evening, my grandmother passed quietly into the night.

The Ready Room is much larger, mysterious and grander than we imagine.  It is also far more adept than what we think we are readying ourselves for.

Bob Patrick

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