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OPINION | Lisa Kelley-Gibbs: In 49th year, good is close enough to perfect

Close counts at end of 40s by LISA KELLEY-GIBBS My Roots Are Showing | March 16, 2023 at 1:00 a.m.

Every so often in my grandfather's check register, the letters "CE" were written to the side of the entry. Was it a person or place? Not that any of us could recall. What's more, it was written with regularity. A few entries, then a line drawn across the register and "CE" inked beside the checking account balance. I believe it was Aunt Shirley who finally unearthed the explanation.

Each month, when my grandfather would attempt to balance the checkbook, the amount rarely matched that of the bank statement. Not off by much -- a few cents either way -- but off nonetheless. Now if it were me, I'd stay up 'til dawn to reconcile 8 cents. I mean, those cents didn't just disappear. There's an answer to the question of where they went, and since I, not liking to leave questions unanswered, would spend all night tracking the scents of cents, I assumed he would, too. Make sense?

It apparently did not make sense to Edgar Baker. When he couldn't quite get the statement to reconcile, he adjusted the amount and wrote "CE" beside it: "Close Enough."

How close is close enough? Mama used to say close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Perhaps that staunch rebuke set during my formative years catapulted me to the perfecting stance I took on everything from grades to the cleanliness of my room.

But I would never call myself a perfectionist. Others have suggested it, on more than one occasion, and I correct them, as any non-perfectionist would. I don't use a tape measure when hanging pictures on the wall. I eyeball it, drive a nail, then adjust it to where it "looks right" and occasionally take a level to it, to be sure. But I don't use a tape measure to center the picture in relation to windows or furniture. Perfectionists, like my friend Eddie, do that -- and I'm not a perfectionist.

When I'd come home from school with my grades in hand, Mama would ask me if I did my best. All she asked, she said, was that I did my best. If I achieved a 95% on an exam, that was good. Of course, there was room for improvement, she reminded, and she asked if anyone scored higher. If Gina or Laura scored a 96, my mother wanted to know why I didn't score 96, too. It seemed one's best was an exhausting journey to an elusive destination.

This week, I celebrated my entrance into the world some 49 years ago. Trapper John surprised me with flowers, my favorite doughnuts (white cake with chocolate icing, anyone?), precious cards and a quirky gold pendent of two crazed rabbits with tiny ruby eyes. I donned the pendent and spent the rest of the day making poor choices in nutrition. And I took a vow to myself in this last year of my 40s -- THIS is the "Year of the Horseshoe."

I gifted myself the gift of grace. It's not perfect. But it's close enough.

Print Headline: Naming ‘Year of Horseshoe’


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