Birmingham is in the midst of a heatwave, with ‘feels like’ temperatures in the triple digits…and our upstairs air conditioning system decided to stop working yesterday afternoon- on a Saturday. Why do these things always happen on weekends? Our second floor feels like an oven, and we are baked Chez Gainey until the repairman can come to take a look at it. It all brings back memories of my youth.
I grew up in an old house in Florida with no air conditioning, jalousie windows, screen doors, and box fans that did nothing but blow hot air at you. I vividly remember lying in bed on summer nights in my old oak bed, a fan perched on a chair to reach the high bed, glued to the sheets with sweat. Showers were an exercise in futility, as you would be dripping with sweat from the moment you stepped out of the tub. It was uncomfortable for me, but from my vantage as a fifty-six-year-old woman I now think with great empathy of my poor mother who went through menopause in that house. How did she survive without killing anyone?
Don’t get me wrong; I had an absolutely wonderful childhood and loved that old house. Sure, it was hot as hell and there were flying palmetto bugs big enough to carry you away, but Mom made things magical with no money and tons of imagination and creativity- and not a little prayer. I was thrilled when years later I helped her move from Westwood Lane over to a nice senior mobile home community where she finally had air conditioning. She loved having the ability to cool her home so much- what a luxury! She never had to do without air again.
It is good when inconveniences like broken air conditioners happen, as it reminds me to be grateful for the comfortable life I am blessed to live every day. The old house on Westwood Lane taught me that great joy can be found in the most humble of places. The only ingredients necessary are love and gratitude.
As for us, we are just fine. The downstairs is very comfortable on its own air handling system and we have a window unit in our bedroom that Dan installed to help me survive menopause (and probably for his own safety), so we all slept comfortably. I have a nice, cool, office at school to practice in today and get a bit of work done before a busy week begins. Life is good…all is good. I’m grateful for the lessons of humble beginnings and a loving mother.