Friday, November 10, 2006

Mandi's Wrinkles

My dear friend Mandi has been losing weight lately because these early weeks of her pregnancy have suppressed her appetite. So we met at a Chinese buffet for lunch yesterday in the hopes that she’d find something to eat that wouldn’t make her sick. At the end of our meal, she made us open our fortune cookies together. Her fortune said, “Hone your competitive instincts.” We laughed at the thought of how one would be competitive “in bed.”

A lot of Mandi’s wrinkles have been earned recently because of potential complications from her pregnancy. Her doctor says her progesterone level is low and that can be a very bad sign – sometimes it means a miscarriage is imminent. But she’s on medication and if she can just get through the next three weeks, everything should be okay.

This baby will be Mandi’s second child. Her daughter started kindergarten this year which has been a relief to Mandi because it gives her a break from Emma’s sometimes challenging behavior. Emma is like the little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead. When she’s good, she’s very, very good, but when she’s bad she’s horrid. Emma has issues with rage control, to the point that Mandi and her husband have had to seek help from a psychologist. She will get angry while riding in the car, get out of her seatbelt, and try to cover Mandi’s eyes with her hands which of course puts them at great risk and in danger. At home, she has kicked doors and walls so hard that things have fallen and broken. She will cry in anger and reach the point where she can’t catch her breath and can’t stop.

But Emma also brings much happiness to Mandi’s life and it makes the harder moments more bearable. She is a very loving, smart and beautiful little girl. Mandi said her best memory ever was Emma’s first laugh. She said Emma was lying in her Daddy’s lap and he was tickling her chin. What started out as a giggle turned into a belly laugh, and the moment was so profoundly joyful that both Mandi and her husband wept.

After Emma’s bath she yells, “Daddy! Time to do the swingie thing!” Her father, who is a gentle giant, wraps her in a big beach towel and swings her around in the air to dry her hair. The swing delights Emma every night before bedtime and the day she gets too big for it will be a terrible one indeed.

Mandi and Patrick are true lifetime companions. Mandi cherishes her husband’s friendship because the whole concept of friends is something she struggles with. In fact, Mandi tries to avoid making friends because they can damage and hurt you after you’ve given your trust. Mandi devoted 12 years to one friend, standing by her side through abusive relationships, two unplanned pregnancies, one abortion, failed marriage, and depression. But a one-way friendship was something Mandi wasn’t prepared to cultivate so it ended. Another friend’s negative energy and judgmental demeanor impacted Mandi’s marriage, her child, and every other aspect of her personal life. Mandi said it was sad to move away from her, but her own life has stabilized as a result.

Mandi is also best friends with her mother. This past spring, Susan lost a job with the Girl Scout Council after 27 years. Ironically, she was told she was not a good fit following nearly three decades of service. She still hasn’t found another job that she can accept because she has to have one with health insurance. Mandi has been her Mom’s support system during the last seven months of unemployment.

Her father has also been the root of some of Mandi’s wrinkles. He had a stroke in Little Rock, Arkansas three days before Mandi and Patrick were to be married. The debate about whether to proceed with or postpone the wedding raged for two days, but Mandi’s father encouraged her to go ahead. On Saturday at noon, she would exchange vows with Patrick. At 2:00 a.m. Saturday (Friday night), an ambulance showed up in Arkansas to transport Mandi’s Dad to Nashville. Her Dad jokingly told the drivers, “You realize if you come back in three hours, I could make it to my daughter’s wedding.” The drivers asked a couple of questions, and then said they had to go on another call. Precisely three hours later, they came back and asked, “Mr. Rush, are you ready to go to your daughter’s wedding?” At 11:50 a.m., the ambulance pulled up to the church in Nashville. Mandi’s Dad, still wearing his hospital gown, was wheeled on a gurney to the church where he watched his daughter marry the love of her life. After the vows were exchanged, the paramedics urged them to get the photos made quickly because they had to leave. Mandi is thankful for those the angels driving the ambulance because they risked their jobs to bring happiness to people they didn’t know.

Although friendship can be fleeting, it is marvelous whether offered by strangers or acquaintances. Mandi’s fortune cookie could have said “Give your friendship gladly to those most deserving.” If I have earned and can hold on to her friendship, it’s definitely been my own good fortune.


Anonymous sista smiff said...

Wow....great all the others are. Mandi was so delightful. I enjoyed meeting her. I really understand her fear of friendships. I'm the same way. I think she's swell and you tell her I said so.

I love this series you're doing!!!

11:14 AM  
Anonymous shauna said...

Wow, that wedding story made me cry. I like the Mandi.

2:29 PM  
Blogger sandegaye said...

Mandi is the type of friend that we all wished we had.
And God love her dad!

3:04 PM  
Blogger newscoma said...

Very good.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

This was fun. It was great to get to know Mandi better.

I really enjoyed meeting her, and this is icing on the cake.

Thank you for all of these beautiful posts.

1:43 AM  

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