It started last Friday when I saw a video of First Lady Dr. Jill Biden delivering cookies to the National Guard at the Capitol in appreciation of their service protecting her and her family during the inauguration. I sent it to Red with the brief subject line, "Class act" and nothing in the body of the email except the link. Throughout the day, we take "brain breaks" and after Red watched it, she called to tell me how she was extremely touched by the simple gesture. Not only because she could relate to how many times over the years she had baked "thank you" cookies and brownies, but because she knows first-hand how protective moms are about their families, and especially their children. Never one to be succinct, she explained how she could "totally relate" to how your maternal instinct always seems to be front and center. Then adding how the fact Dr. Biden was also a military mom only meant her desire to show her appreciation to the National Guard was even stronger.
So, when it came time to pick the topic of our next Banter Bite, Red immediately suggested the cookie story. But I hesitated. I was concerned that this might have been staged to offset the uproar about the National Guard, who initially had been resting and napping in the Capitol, but post-inauguration had been relocated to nearby parking garages. (This was subsequently remedied.) Instead, our Saturday Banter Bite, which tend to be "feel good" or, at least, less serious ones, was about Ben & Jerry's new doggie treats.
But, I could not stop thinking about the "cookie story" … and the fact it seemed true to character to who Dr. Biden is, so whether or not it was orchestrated for the media, it still was an authentic reflection of our new First Lady. A woman displaying gratitude, decency, and grace. A role model for us all.
And, I could not stop thinking about my initial reaction, as I have always prided myself on giving people the benefit of the doubt. (Red often jokes that I am much better at that than she is, even though she is the warm and fuzzy one!). But why did I not do so this time? Is it a reflection of how jaded we have all become? Is that what the last four years has done to us?
If nothing else, just knowing we have become jaded is a step in the right direction. But I could not let it end there. So, early Saturday morning (well, early for Red, as I am usually up well before 6 a.m.), I called Red and said I was wrong not to run with the "cookie story" and explained why. Which explains why we will do it this Saturday.
Black has said, on more than one occasion, that having morning TV shows playing in the background while I work reduces my level of concentration. Although that may, or may not, be true (as a mom I just consider it yet another source of "white noise"), I still keep doing it. And I have to say that this week, I was so glad that I did, otherwise I'd never have realized that my sister, Black, and Dr. Fauci are both Vulcans.
Yes, I know that Vulcans aren't real (watching Star Trek with my dad is one of my fonder childhood memories, although I was never a "Trekkie"), but sometime in the last decade I was at the movies enjoying my popcorn while one of the recent Star Trek movies was playing … and I had a revelation. I realized that my sister, with her non-emotional and highly pragmatic way of looking at everything (and I mean everything – including relationships, if you can believe that) was Vulcan-like. Which explained so much, including why I always have to explain the "mere mortal" perspective to her. For her, emotions get in the way and prevent looking at things logically.
Fast forward to this week and the incredibly tragic news of the U.S. reaching 500,000 coronavirus deaths. Dr. Fauci was being interviewed by CBS This Morning, and I'll admit that I wasn't really paying any attention until I heard the doctor being asked,
Is there ever a moment when you have time to get emotional about this?
At that point, Dr. Fauci had my full and undivided attention. And I just had to laugh, and think of Black, when he replied, without hesitation,
No, I don't. And that's the point.
And then he proceeded to explain that it's not that he's a very cold person, but that you can't let emotions drive what you do. He emphasized the need to be empathic, but that you need to stay focused on the task at hand. By then, although the words were coming from Dr. Fauci, the sentiments might just as well have been from my sister.
And just as I've learned never to question my sister's unemotional, highly analytical approach to everything, I had to smile at the thought that now Black's not the only Vulcan that I "know". And respect.
For Black, Valentine's Day is a reminder, a mindset, and a year-round approach to life. Based on death. Confused? Red was. Until Black explained her "logic", which gave Red a warm and fuzzy feeling as she saw how it could help her become her year-round best – not only for herself, but for others in her life.
Let me set the scene (keep in mind I was a theater major). The Houston area, where fur coats appear on the "ladies who lunch" when the weather dips below 50, has been hit by an unprecedented winter storm that not only brings snow and prolonged sub-freezing temperatures, but also creates statewide power outages for millions. My extremely pragmatic sister lives in a high-rise that lost power early in the storm and, thinking quickly, secures a hotel room in Houston's only five-star hotel, which just happens to be down the street from her place. Less than 24 hours later, I too lose power, but living in a house that has a fireplace, well-stocked pantry, and a gas cooktop, just hunker down. My car's parked on the driveway so I can easily access it to charge my gizmos, which also gives me the opportunity (or really, excuse) to warm up.
And it's there, while texting with Black (who, for the record, rarely texts but at that point in time it was the only form of communication that worked), that the following conversation ensues …