It was just going to be one of those days.  I’d had a fitful night’s sleep; when the alarm buzzed at 5:15, I’d clocked probably four hours.  I peeled back the covers and grumpily wondered why Joseffa had to do jazz band this year.  (They practice at 6:15 a.m. on Fridays, which meant the very early wake-up call.)

I heard the shower turn on as I started the coffee.  Got her lunch made, set out cereal and sat down for our breakfast chat.  Working many nights, I always get up to see her off to school so we are sure to connect at least once a day.  It might be the only time I see her in a day.  This morning there wasn’t much connection.  She was focused on leaving in time to pick up her friend Ellie.  I was focused on getting back to bed.  I asked if she were excited for her marching band concert that evening, and she said she just wanted to make it though the school day so SHE could come home and nap.  Fair enough.

I was back under the covers before the door shut completely. I dozed for a bit but soon heard Jamie in the shower.  I might as well get up before the coffee went cold. I was gonna need it.

Gratuitous cute Cesar photo

By 10:30 a.m., email had been checked, Scrabble moves played, Cesar had been walked, pumpkin bread was in the oven. I still had to run out to pick up a donation for the senior party. I needed to clean the bathroom, and two baskets of dirty laundry sat at the top of the steps awaiting sorting, washing and folding.  My anxiety was cranking, and a black cloud was over my head.

I laced up my workout shoes and headed to the Y.  Warm up, weights, half an hour on the elliptical… Ahh.  I headed up to the locker room.  An older woman in front of me dropped her Y card, so I picked it up and handed it to her. “Thank you, sir,” she said.  The tiny bit of cheer I had built up on the exercise machines evaporated on the spot.  “I’m not a ‘sir,’” I said icily.

Andy Braford


(An aside:  I get mistaken for a man fairly frequently. Once, in a two-week period, three of my coworkers came into my cubicle and called me Andy, who is in the cubicle next to me.  We both have short spiky hair, but I’d like to think the resemblance ends there. I’m sure Andy would, too! Yes, I have short hair; Yes, I am rather large; no, I don’t wear makeup.  But really, people, … take a good look at others before you categorize them.)

As I left the Y, that black cloud was still hanging around but now it was threatening to rain. Next up:  Get that party donation.

Cowboy Jack’s in Plymouth pleasantly surprised me:  Two shirts, two gift cards and a nice reusable bag.  I was thankful for their generosity and headed home.

I ate a quick late lunch, thinking of what I could still get done before heading out to the dinner fundraiser for the senior party and the concert fundraiser for the marching band.  When Joseffa came home, I was surprised it was already that late.  She didn’t really want to nap, but there was this estate sale she saw on her way home.  Could we go?  The laundry baskets tried to trip me on my way out, but I avoided them.

When Joseffa eventually did decide to rest for a bit, the phone rang. Now what?

The manager from Honest-1 Auto Care wanted to make a donation for the senior party.  I answered his questions and was floored when he said he was going to give us some gift certificates and cut a check.  A $500 check.  His generosity nearly brought me to tears.

We ate dinner surrounded by excited, energetic teenagers and headed to the concert, a fundraiser for the Cooper High School marching band’s uniform fund. It was fun visiting with my cousins, who had come to support Joseffa and the cause.

The concert was nothing short of amazing. So many talented people donating their time: Don Shelby was the emcee.  The Shady Oak Groove Society; the WCCO Blues Band (who knew Shelby could sing like that?);  Phil Solem from the Rembrants, and most importantly Joey Molland, a member of the group Badfinger, who had somehow heard the band was playing a Beatles show and trying to raise money.  He volunteered to work with the band and play this benefit.  I was entertained, surprised and relaxed by the talent they all shared and humbled by the generosity all around me.

Later, after a post-concert drink with good friends, I thought about the day. Jamie had carried the baskets to the laundry room and started the wash. The bathroom still needs cleaning, but I’ll get to it eventually. There are a lot of wonderfully giving people out there, and their generosity renewed my faith in the goodness of humanity.  I give generously of my time and talents, but I don’t have to do it all by myself.

That morning, I had taken care of the daughter, the dog, the donations and the dishes but hadn’t taken care of myself. And that is as important as any other thing I had to do during the day.