Jan 6, 2007

The Joys of Left-handed Compliments

Hi! I’m Anna Arnett, an 82-year-old, right-handed, amateur author, married 61+ years to the same wonderful man. We have seven children, 29 grandchildren, and a 27th great grandchild was born this week. I have a master’s degree in secondary ed., with an English teaching major and a history minor, which I completed soon after I turned fifty. For 16 years I taught pregnant students in Mesa, Arizona. Then I retired and forgot most everything. I submitted a novel and received a couple of rejections, and joined ANWA. I’ve also completed three courses with The Institute of Children’s Literature and self-published a children’s book. I enjoy writing, once I get started, but given spare time I’m much more apt to pick up a crochet hook or knitting needles and watch TV.

Right now I’m pecking out a blob with my left hand since my right wrist wears a splint. I tried a little two-handed typing on my trusty (?) iMac yesterday but today my wrist has just enough more pain to make me want to simply let it rest. X-rays showed no broken bones, which is perhaps a great relief for a woman with osteoporosis, even if a sprain can be more painful and take longer to heal. By the way, under my splint I’m wearing a leper bandage I recently knit.

At 7:15 on the last Saturday in 2006, as I strode purposefully down a smooth cement walkway, my well-placed heel suddenly refused to stay placed. Instead, it forged swiftly onward, leaving the rest of me nowhere to go but down. A lady following behind (who, with another gentleman helped me up) said that I fell gracefully. For almost every tragedy there seems to be some compensation. To be called graceful was mine.

It takes a bit of effort—or a big sense of humor—to find any kind of enjoyment in some situations. I have seen people react with anger and hurt to words so innocently spoken that the speaker had no idea of giving affront. I call these left-handed compliments and for years have chuckled over the dozens I’ve received. I’ll give you a couple of examples.

Over sixty-two years ago, when I was still single, a friend I casually dated told me of his disastrous, but short-lived, marriage. “At first,” he said, “she seemed so gloriously beautiful to me, I thought I was in love.” Then he looked me in the eye and continued, “You can be glad you’re not beautiful, because you’re good.”

Decades later, at a wedding, a sweet, elderly woman sat by me. As she fingered the hand-crocheted lace on my cuff, she asked if I had made it. Trying to curb my happy pride, I nodded. “Oh! I just love it, “ she cooed. “I do wish it would come back into fashion.”

One more, told by my husband, Charles. He found it hilarious.

Back in the “good old days” of the Great Depression, an elderly couple invited some teenagers, including Charles, to their home for ice cream. They were known for making the best. All the youth took a turn at cranking the freezer handle to spin the metal cylinder in the briny ice. When it became harder, the strongest boy cranked the handle until he could turn it no more, and the man pronounced it done. All watched breathlessly as the wife tugged the dasher out. Good! The ice cream was firm. After everybody got a bowlful, the host smacked his lips and turned to his wife. “Mama,” he said. “Your ice cream is not so hot.”

I didn’t laugh.


  1. Oh Anna, I could laugh myself silly, but then I think of your poor, painful wrist, and stifle myself.

    What a wonderful life you've lived, full of goodness and beauty.

    Tremendous blog entry!

  2. Anna,
    Thank you for shining more light on my day today. I wish I had more opportunities to visit with you. You radiate so much love and joy. Can't wait to read more of your blogs!

  3. Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle. I love reading your words; they always brighten my day! I'm sorry about your wrist. Hopefully by the time you get to blog again your wrist will be allow for some right handed compliments or humor as well.

  4. Thanks for the chuckle. I look forward to reading more of your blogs.


  5. You always make me smile, Anna. I especially enjoyed the anecdote about the crocheted lace. Been there. Experienced that. You told it so well and let the reader connect and feel with you your inner reaction.

  6. Great entry. Thanks for sharing and for making me smile!


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