When I got up and found my cell phone this morning there were two messages on it. From Grampie. Both about his printer. Both for Beve. This is not an uncommon occurrence in my life-with-Grampie-world. In fact, I've come to expect that if there's a message on my cell-phone it's likely to be from Grampie, and it's even more likely to be for Beve.
Now I realize that those of you out there with all or most of your brain functions have already asked several questions, and the problem-solvers among you have tried to solve them, so let me just cut you all off at the pass. Yes, Grampie also knows Beve's cell-phone, and yes, on some level, he realizes--or at least did at one time--that the phone he calls constantly will not usually reach Beve, particularly when school is in session. We have posted in the elders' very small apartment large lists of our cell phone numbers. And get this, Beve's is actually the top number on the list. But it makes no difference to Grampie. Mine is the number he calls when he wants Beve, or E, for that matter. In his scrambled brain those lists of numbers must look a little like Peanuts cartoons of adult-speak, just "Blah-blah-blah" with my number right in the middle. In fact, we've tried so many different solutions for this, we've finally just thrown up our hands and given in to it. Besides,
Grampie lives in a cell-phone age with a land-line mindset. That's the biggest thing. Somehow in Grampie's brain, my number is the house number and the one where he's sure to reach us--whoever the 'us' is he's trying to reach. He doesn't like to bother Beve, even though he can't quite remember whether school's out or not. (Hmm, come to think of it, I have a hard time with that myself. Beve is at school again this morning, the way he's been almost every day since vacation began!). And Grampie knows that if he reaches me, the message will get to Beve or E or J or even SK over in Spokane. After he tells me that message, he doesn't even have to remember it any longer. And more than half the time, he really doesn't remember it. I know that positively by the number of redundant calls I get from him daily. This morning's were about his printer and its cords which he told me/Beve he'd found. The odd thing about these messages is that when I relayed them to Beve, Beve said he'd already found those cords last night when he was over there. So I don't know what Grampie unplugged at the crack of dawn this morning--or what two things--so he could 'find' those missing cords. (Grampie's been on a tear because his printer doesn't work, and that means he can't read his email. Yeah, that's what I said. Grampie can't read his emails on the screen but has to print them out to read them, even the spam mail! It's been quite the problem. He's been forwarding scads of ridiculous emails to us to print out for him to read, so he can then pile it on his desk. Beve planned to return the printer to Costco yesterday, but couldn't because of those missing cords!)
These are just part of the joys and trials of life with Grampie now. Missing cords. Redundant phone calls. We've stopped telling him he already told us things, or we already did things for him. What would be the point of that added to his forgetfulness?
But this morning, as I was listening to his second message, I realized that in a more sophisticated, filtered way, I do exactly the same thing. I'm exceedingly redundant when I pray. It's almost like I have memory problems, because I'm pretty sure God doesn't. I mean, how many times have I prayed for something, then prayed for it again, and again, and again, as if He didn't get the message the first, second or third time. All that repetitive praying is NOT for His sake, of course. He heard me the first time, He knew what I said, what I mean--even when I stuttered and misspoke and got off track. No, that praying in such a concentrated, redundant way is for myself. It's to get to the heart of what I really mean when I speak to Him. Or if I really mean it, I should say. What is it I'm praying when I say "Please God, help J." When I finally get down to the real issue, and tell God where it hurts, what I am asking, that's when the connection becomes true, I think. It stops being simply a message left on an answering machine, but a real prayer.
I realized this the other night. Lately, I've had trouble praying. I admit that. This has been a hard year. Perhaps one of the hardest we've lived. Glo's death, the elders' move, trouble with my health, a few other things which are not my stories to tell, even Jackson's health--all these have worn Beve and me out. Finally, the other night I lay in bed and said, "God, you have to be God. You have to. I can't tell you how to do it, but You have to." And those simple words broke through whatever the walls were. And suddenly it was pouring out. The real prayer, the real need, even the real love. It was like I'd been calling the wrong cell-phone for months, and simply leaving messages for Him with someone else. Have you ever felt that way? Like at the hardest times in your life Who you need most you aren't connecting with?
I'm not saying the hard time is over. I don't sense that. And I don't even sense that praying is suddenly a walk in the park. But I think I understand a bit about why He tells us to pray without ceasing. It's for times like these as much as any. Praying until the right connection is made, then start praying for real.