“Life Is Messy,” column for Oct. 7, 2014

Today _ certainly not for the first time and probably not the last_ I was reminded of the epitaph I want engraved on my headstone: “Here lies Sharon. God bless her, she meant well.”

The morning started quietly. I was sitting on the sofa, deleting junk mail from my laptop and trying hard to wake up.

My husband sat at the table doing the daily crossword puzzle in ink. It’s a habit he picked up from his father, who was one of the smartest, dearest men I ever met, and a major factor in my decision to marry his son.

“OK,” said Mr. Crossword Wizard, “here’s one for you.”

That’s what he says when he’s stumped by a clue and is hoping it will stump me, too. Come to think of it, he says that a lot. I looked up from my laptop and tried to focus my eyes.

“What’s a six-letter word,” he said, “for ‘almost perfect’?”

Instantly, I shouted, “Sharon!”

Coffee snorted out his nose. “Yes,” he said, “you are almost perfect. But, sorry, that’s not it.”

“What do you mean ‘almost’?”

It turned out to be “A-minus,” which isn’t one word, but two, or one and a half, with no blank for a hyphen, all of which struck me as far too sneaky and should not have been allowed as a clue.

That may explain why doing crossword puzzles is not what you’d call one of my “gifts.” I’m not gifted at much of anything, really. Except maybe making a mess.

When my children were small, I’d find spills on the floor, smears on the walls or stains all over my clothing. And I’d tell myself, just be patient, someday they’ll leave home and take their messes with them.

Imagine my surprise after they left, and the messes kept showing up. The kids didn’t make them. I did.

Sometimes I’m busy doing something and I’ll hear a voice that says, “You’d better quit that right now or you’ll be sorry.” I know that voice well. It sounds like my mother. I never listened to her much, either.

So I’ll drop a stack of dishes that I knew was too heavy. Or give a nail an extra tap that shatters the wall. Or burn my fingers on a pot and nearly lose my religion because I didn’t want to find a hot pad. You get the picture. It’s not pretty.

After my husband left for work, I got busy. We were leaving the next day to drive to the Grand Canyon. The trip was his idea. Growing up in the Carolinas, fall was my favorite season. We live in Las Vegas, where fall is a display in the gardens at the Bellagio. He knew I was missing the real deal. So he said, let’s go find it. Yes, he is a lot like his dad.

I don’t know about you, but I hate coming home from a trip to a fridge full of slimy produce. So I started cleaning it out. Which would’ve been fine, but there was a lot of it _lettuce, spinach, celery, beets_ and I didn’t want to waste it. I know, I thought, I’ll juice it and we can drink it before we hit the road!

Yes. That is where I should’ve heeded the voice saying, “Stop now, or you’ll be sorry later!”

Instead, I crawled under the counter, pulled out a juicer I hadn’t used in years, dusted it off, set it up and went to work.

Never mind how it happened. Suffice it to say I ended up with several million slimy green blobs on the counter. And the floor. And the ceiling. And me. And my favorite pink sweater.

In the two hours it took to clean up that mess, I thought of other messes I have made. The worst aren’t splattered juice or broken glass or burnt fingers.

They’re words I shouldn’t have said. Promises I should’ve kept. Hearts I never meant to break.

We all make a mess of things once in a while. We can only try to clean it up, make amends where we can, and hope  somehow to be forgiven.

The best thing about knowing you aren’t perfect?  Besides being humbling? It tends to make you a little more forgiving. Trust me. It’s hard to be judgmental of others when you’ve been covered in slimy green blobs.

Even if you meant well.


  1. We all have messes in our lives…& our houses! 🙂 I tend to want to sweep them under the rug, but then have to figure out what to do with them later. Hope you found some color in the canyons! I’m wanting to head to our Brown County hills next week to see our autumn color. That is, if the rain doesn’t knock the color off all of the trees first!

  2. Lately, it seems I’ve come across a lot of articles and writings that focus on forgiveness…messes that need to be cleaned up. There’s one big mess in my life that I wish I could go back and clean up; maybe some day I’ll get a chance. Just asking, is there any chance you could add a way to forward your column to others? You know, via email, as opposed to just sharing on FB? Thanks.

    • Kathy Lynch says

      To the person above: All you have to do is go to the bar at the top of your computer, highlight what’s there, left click on it and “copy”, go to your e-mail and left click again, then “paste” it into the message area.

      • Kathy, thank you. I do know how to do that, but I meant directly from this page. I wanted to share it with someone who might not read it if she knew it came directly from me. Or is that TMI? 🙂

  3. I would call it a beautiful column sitting on messy juicer ,of course we make mess and it takes days to clean kitchen counter and when it goes on the walls too that is like red blood from beetroot ,I know you did not mess up your pink sweater . Again a beautiful post Sharon you write it so well even with messy chores .

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