Green beans and Green Bay. Those are two codes phrases in our house.
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For us green beans has come to mean a day consumed by simple, unimportant tasks that could have been accomplished in an hour or less if we had more important things to do. Why green beans? It has to do with a long ago visit to my mother-in-law, who was rapidly sliding into Alzheimer’s. She spent an entire day buying green beans at a nearby grocery store. She had to remember, forget and remember again, that it was green beans she was after. Then it was a matter of getting to the store, remembering why she was there, buying the beans, finding her way home, remembering that she had done it, remembering why she had done it, and remembering to cook them for dinner. All in all it was an exhausting day. We smile now and joke about our own days of getting nothing done but green beans. There was no humor in it then because we didn’t fully understand what was happening to her.
I am more aware now than I was then about how much courage it takes for one entering dementia to keep on with the ordinary demands of daily life; how hard even the simplest tasks can become. It’s not as if they don’t know. Not long ago I was on a hotel balcony and overheard a wife yelling at her husband to pay attention and remember a certain thing. I could tell by their voices that her anger was the anger of a broken heart, and his response was from a man knowing that he should remember, trying very hard to remember, and equally broken hearted at not being able to do it. What was he trying to remember? Whatever it was it was just green beans. What is important is love. But I digress, which is something I can do, sometimes at length.
That brings me to Green Bay, another household code phrase. Once upon a time our son, then a teenager, asked me about Green Bay. I had done a little consulting there not long before, and so regaled him with everything I knew about it from history, to demographics, to economics to politics. After my introductory remarks of about twenty minutes, he explained that he only wanted to know about the Packers, not too much. That teenager is now in his mid-forties, and I have forgot everything I ever knew about Green Bay. Just the same, his mother will silently mouth tImage by Getty Images via @daylifeo me now and then, “Green Bay,” as a not so subtle hint that I have gone on too long about that which is of little interest to anyone else. It can happen.
Green beans and Green Bay. Preachers, I suspect, have a tendency toward each, perhaps more than the average person. Parish councils, by whatever name, wallow in them.