The other night at dinner, we were discussing old movies. Old–as in black and white…as in Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and the like. We grew up watching many of these kind…either that or classic reruns of black and white television shows, such as The Lone Ranger, Petticoat Junction, The Dick van Dyke Show, I Love Lucy, The Beverly Hillbillies or The Andy Griffith Show. If I ever need a hearty laugh, these are bound for success!
Don Knotts, who plays Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show, also starred in many funny movies: The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Reluctant Astronaut and The Shakiest Gun in the West are personal favorites. In the 1968 film, The Shakiest Gun in the West, we find Jesse W. Haywood (Knotts) fresh out of a dentist school in Philadelphia and now pursuing the West to open an office and provide his services there. One hilarious event after another, Haywood’s vulnerability places him right in the middle of a secret government case in which he has been lured into by the stagecoach robber, Penelope “Bad Penny” Cushing, who has been offered a pardon if she helps solve the case.
Haywood at the beginning of the movie is not what you would label a western man. Everything changes for him when the other wagon men see–what they perceive–as Haywood fighting off a group of Native Americans. Suddenly he is a hero. From that point on, his pride is fueled, enough even to accept a challenge from the famous and feared Arnold the Kid. It is only after this that he discovers the truth about his fighting abilities–it is not him, but has been Penny the entire time. Crushed, he returns to the plain old Jesse W. Haywood…a nobody in his eyes. I don’t want to spoil anymore of the movie, but I will say that in the end, we see that Haywood learns confidence. He has experienced the West and longed to be something big–but in the end, it is not his pride or fighting skills that earn him his recognition but simply by being himself and what he does best: being a dentist.
When my sister was here in July, we watched this movie. 🙂 I have thought of it a few times lately more because it gives me a few good laughs when I get frustrated with my hands. As you may recall, my hands are weakening–curled fingers due to muscle loss in the left hand and extreme numbness in the right hand which results in lack of grip and sensation. It is not entirely noticeable but my hands also shake. Not violently but just a steady jitter.
When it first started, I did not think much of it, figuring it was just a phase or I was tired that day or anything else excuse-wise that came to mind. When changes happen in my body, I allow myself a certain period of time to test and take note if it is indeed a change or just a spontaneous reaction of tumors with the nerves. Sometimes things happen only once, never occurring again. Unless it is crucial–like my notice of hearing loss–I don’t mention anything to my parents or doctors until it becomes a relevant occurrence.
One night, my sister came home and as we were talking she just broke in midsentence and asked, “Are you feeling ok? Your hands are really shaky.” I had not mentioned it to anyone yet…guess it was time to say something. That was early summer. As the summer months progressed, so did the shake. Sometimes my left thumb will spasm. It does not hurt; I just have no control over its movement.
I really don’t notice the shakiness until it is obvious: when I eat, when I write or as I observed last night..when I paint in detail. I was finishing my last two paintings for Saturday’s festival (exciting 🙂 ), but on the one I was elaborating with flowers and side margin décor. My shakiness started to frustrate me as my marginal fancywork continued to expand farther and wider than what I wanted, topping it of with my right hand smearing the metallic red paint amidst the baby blue background.
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This past weekend, there had been (and will be) a lot of conversation about the days ahead and my health. Since my body continues to change, we are moving forward to get the help and resources set up in advance so when life gets more shaky, we have some stability. It was a rough weekend emotionally. As if shaking in fear of losing “independence,” I was reminded that receiving this help will in return help me to continue to live as independently as possible. There are resources and services that we are not familiar with…this is a whole new chapter in life.
It doesn’t come naturally for me to admit that I need the help, but it is then that I am graciously humbled. I had to set aside my pride to see the goodness in this situation. I see a parallelism to my prayers as well. I have been contemplating what it means to “ask, seek, knock” (Matthew 7:7). Three action verbs…why are they so difficult to act upon? And yet I can come before God at any time, not with shaking or trembling, but with confidence.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need…[and] let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.
Hebrews 4:16, 12:28a