Friday, February 26, 2010

Playing a card

When is it okay to play a card? Not your trump card. Not the joker, not the ace of hearts. I'm thinking the two of spades. The card that says "please excuse me right now, I'm suffering and deserve to be treated differently. Normal rules are suspended because I'm (insert relevant disaster). "

On Tuesday morning P interupted my shower with a proclamation. "There's a man at the door and he needs a sign." Don't we all? I thought and hurriedly wrapped myself into a towel and padded down to meet the courier. I do love couriers. Bearers of presents and trademe purchases. Bringers of glad tidings of great joy.

He: "It's from your neighbour. Your next door neighbour."
Me: "Can't be good news then?"
He: "Probably not."

And sure enough, he was right. Our neighbour had gone to the expense and trouble of having a letter couriered from her house to ours. The details are boring, the claims against us pedestrian. But the sentence that really stuck in my throat was the one that suggested that we were taking advantage of her as a single mother. What does that mean?

In property disputes about whose water is flooding whose garden does being a single mother give you greater rights and less responsibilities than being married? Since when was being a single mother a bad thing? Is it a new category of social status that means the rules are changed? I've never thought that marital or parental status was a card that could be played. Am I wrong? Which of the many attributes, charateristics and events that shape us entitle us to expect sympathy? Being short? Being poor? Being prone to foot-in-mouth disease?

It's made me think about how often I've played the cancer card in the last 7 months. I withdrew from university and received a partial refund of fees. I was slow to respond to one of our landlords and blamed chemo. I've stopped wearing a seatbelt and have prepared a cancer burn excuse but am yet to try it on a real life officer. Perhaps I've played it so infrequently because I haven't needed to. My community has wrapped me in lovingkindness and support and has not asked me to pull my weight where it might otherwise be expected. And this is how it should be. We should care for each other enough that paid up members of card carrying societies don't have to pull out their two of spades to get the help they need.

I have been useless at this in the past, arrogantly considering myself more of a global helper than a local hands-on person. My cooked meals won't be appreciated but I'm sure that I can do more for those in need around me. The examples set by others in our community have shamed me into quiet reflection.

Where do we draw the line? What constitutes a disaster card and which mindsets lock people into victimhood? I know better than most what it feels like to have days where the world seems set against you. Yesterday I lost my car key, tripped off my scooter, burnt my mouth on hot coffee, ran low on gas, left my moneycard at home, looked like an old, grey, fat spinster, oozed more goo from a massive burn under my arm and finished my book and had nothing to read and absolutely nothing to wear, so take me now because I am done with Thursdays.

I also woke up in a gorgeous new home with my two healthy delightful children sleeping peacefully downstairs. My step-son is living his dream at college in the States. My husband had already left for work so he could start at 7.15am as he has done at least 5 days a week for the 10 years we have been together, to faithfully provide for our family. I had the choice of three different cereals for breakfast and 295 albums to listen to through my inbuilt surround sound stereo system. I am blessed with a body that functions so well that despite the assault of cancer treatment I was able to scooter with my daughter to kindy and play mixed doubles tennis with C in the evening. I have a nearly brand new car which I love and money in the bank to buy petrol. I am a cuddly, sexy grey-haired minx who now attracts the attention of both hetero- and homosexuals. My burn is healing and my bookshelves are full of generous gifts from friends that I'm yet to open. Every day above ground is a good day.

I still have nothing to wear.

If my neighbour could meet my eye I'd say this:

"Cards on the table. We all get dealt the occasional dud. Sometimes an entire hand of rubbish. Having cancer doesn't give me the right to flood your garden. Being a single mother doesn't give you the right to flood mine. Call off the couriers and won't you please accept my home-made lasagne cooked with love and instructions from the Kids Can Cook book."


Poppa Bear said...

Life's a bit like that really. We all play the cards we're dealt with at one stage or another to gain an advantage here and there, win a hand or two when we can. In the immortal words of Kenny Rodgers: 'You got know when to hold em, know when to fold em and know when to walk away when the dealings done'

BeJolly said...

to me more interesting, than working out which card to play when, is the idea that you & C are obviously so frightening that neighbour felt she couldn't have a talk w you over the fence...

BlairC said...

I love your blog Sacha. You're probably bored of being told you're an inspiration so instead I'll just say how much I enjoy your writing. Stay positive (and beware those single mums).

Anonymous said...

Hiya, to a fellow Her2 so hit the nail on the head with your insightful insights into 'our' world of cancer stuff...always look forward to your 'novels'...I too finished Radiation mid feb....and can so nod my head in agreement.....
luv to you Amanda