As she entered the elevator on the 20th floor, moving gently through the doors and appearing to use her cane to guide her as much as provide stability, she began to explain:
“I had a horrible fall yesterday. Everything went everywhere. Broke my glasses. These are older pairs. I can hardly see with them. But until I replace the other pair, this is all I have.”
She continued her story slowly as older people do, and when we arrived at the lobby, where she began to move to the door, she had more to tell but sensed that she needed to exit and not hold up others who were going further to one of the garage levels.
Partially out of the elevator and wanting to complete the story, she struggled to grasp the right words for summation. Another gentleman on the elevator, perhaps recognizing her dilemma and also in a hurry to reach his destination, interjected, “You be careful now,” freeing her to move on. And she responded, “Thank you,” receiving what she needed to depart. Her story had been heard, understood, and acknowledged, and now she could leave.
But perhaps there was more? Yes, the story had been heard, understood, and acknowledged, but she had also been blessed, and she received the blessing with a Thank You. She did not receive, You be careful now as a segue to a purposeful exit or a hurried “goodbye now let me go” or a mere admonishment to do her best not to fall again, but as a blessing that she would not fall again.
It is not possible to know the intent of the speaker, but there was a day when words had only one meaning, and the power to bless was understood. As I look back, I realize there have been many blessings I have did not receive, not appreciating the power, intent, or authority of the speaker.
I always considered Grandma’s admonishment to be her parting words to drive safely as things that older folks were required to say. These words had no real meaning as I would never intentionally drive unsafely. I, and perhaps you also, considered such words as time-honored ways of saying goodbye, words that didn’t need to be spoken but served as a closing when words more meaningful could not be found, words spoken to fill the silence of departure.
But they were more than that. They were a blessing for those who recognized and received them. I won’t be that stupid again. I will receive my blessings!