Don’t Panic

Gerri’s two children were only toddlers, her husband was out of town on business, and her back went out. She couldn’t move without help, and the doctor insisted that she go to the hospital to be placed in traction.
I offered to take the children, but since I have a couple of toddlers my­self, Gerri was reluctant to agree. Besides, she felt that if her children remained in their own home, they would weather her absence better. The best solution, she felt, was to ask her parents, both in their seventies, to stay with the children. The loving grandparents of course agreed.

One evening, two days after Gerri entered the hospital, when I was feeling utterly exhausted from dealing with my children all day, I thought of Gerri’s parents and wondered how they were coping. I picked up the phone to offer sympathy and whatever help I could.

“Hello-o-o,” came the soft voice of Gerri’s mother, a voice that had not lost its trace of old-country accent.

“Hello, Mrs. Hoffman, it’s Paula. I called to find out how you and Mr. Hoffman are managing with the little ones.”

There was a small sigh. “Vell,” she said, “ve don’t panic.”

Mrs. Hcffman’s brave reply has since become our family motto. Many times, when we are faced with an emotional crisis, when an unexpected repair bill knocks our budget for a loop, when sickness or disappointment or the day’s news threatens to overwhelm us, my husband and I look at each other–

“Well,” we say in unison, “we don’t panic.”

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