Sometimes, I hate being right


If there’s one thing that marriage and being a parent has taught me, it’s how wrong I often am.

Embracing the opportunity to make a mistake and learn from it and grow in my role as a father and/or a husband is something I honestly cherish.

However, there are times I hate being right.

In the summer of 2019, my grandmother called me. “I want you to sing,” she stated. Well, let’s be honest, she stated it like I state to my children that they should be wearing clothes and not exiting the house naked when they leave for school. This was an assumed expectation.

She had a different idea in mind from the usual Shirley Chase desiring her grandson to sing in church request, however.

She wanted me to sing a song with her as she played the organ during an upcoming Sunday in church.

Of course I would do that, I told her. So we did.

One of the church members came up after the service and remarked how beautiful it was to hear me singing and how great it was to have me sing with the organ accompaniment.

I simply stated that I knew the opportunity to sing alongside my grandmother wouldn’t be there forever, and I wanted to take advantage of every chance I had to share our musical gifts.

I hate being right.

After that day, I remarked to my grandmother that my 40th birthday was coming up. Of course, she didn’t need any reminding.

You see, I was my grandmother’s last birthday present of the 1970s. Some people give their mother a nice blouse, maybe a bracelet, perhaps a new household appliance if they’re really feeling generous.

Nope. My parents decided to give her a grandson.

No matter how down I was on my birthday growing up due to a tough day at school or whatever else may have stirred up my pre-teen or teen angst, I always would have a call at some point from my “birthday buddy” wishing me a happy day and wanting to know how things had gone.

There was no such thing as telling your birthday buddy about a bad birthday.

When I moved back to Huron, I would often stop for a long talk with Grandma at her work, just to talk about life.

I knew I was blessed to have my grandparents as I got into my 30s. When I still had all four grandparents at my wedding at 35, I considered myself incredibly lucky.

Grandma and I had a couple of traditions around our birthday, one of which was getting together, just the two of us, for lunch somewhere in town. Though I believe in the 13 years since I moved back to Huron, we had actually eaten our birthday lunch on our actual birthday one time.

So, I preemptively said we should set up a time to have that birthday meal actually happen on our birthday. She laughed and said that we’d get it set up.

I hate being right.

The other tradition around our birthday was getting Grandma flowers each year on her birthday. I would have the florist put together a “fall colors” bouquet, give a budget, and have the flowers delivered when I was in college and before I moved back to South Dakota.

I’d still have them delivered now and again once I moved back, but no matter if I took them by hand or had them delivered, I always got the same comment, typically half-stern, half-glowing, “Benjamin Chase! You didn’t have to do this…but I love that you did!”

Grandma Shirley passed away January 12. Before COVID, before racial unrest, before the presidential campaign had set in, really before anything else in this tumultuous year, my 2020 began losing my birthday buddy.

The funeral was tough. Many days since have been tough.

Yesterday was our birthday, and I took a bouquet of fall flowers to her grave. Somewhere up above, an angelic voice was singing, “You didn’t have to do this…but I love that you did!”

Sometimes, it even hurts when I’m right.

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