By the time I was five I had been kidnapped by each of my parents in turn and then left in the custody of my grandparents because neither of my parents were able to care for me. My grandmothers were more mothers than my mother could or would ever be, She and I are very dear friends but role reversal is a long standing part of our relationship.
My Gramma Martha passed away today, after nearly a year in hospice and several months in twilight where she spoke mostly to the Night People (her parents, her husband).
I hadn't seen her in many years but we remained very close. I am her only grandchild.
I had a dream last Friday night. I picked up the ringing telephone, and old heavy one with a handset and rotary dial and all. Martha was speaking, telling me about her day (grocery shopping, making dinner). She didn't seem to hear when I replied but carried on for a while and then was silent. I filled the space with I Love You and I Miss You. More silence followed and I thought she had put down the telephone.
Then she told a many times told story from my childhood. She and my Grampa Al drove up from the City to visit me and my mom and dad when we were living in a little house that had once been a chicken coop, up in New Paltz I think. I was maybe three or four. When the few days visit was over, they said good bye. I kissed and hugged Al, patted his cheek, and said, "You go home now" then turned to Martha Mekul and said, "But you 'tay here"...weeping I told the Martha in the dream that is was okay, she didn't have to 'tay here anymore; she would always be with me no matter what, that I understood that now.
I will be both the lead presenter and a panel member at an annual state-wide conference in my field (animal welfare). Both presentations are about community: reaching different groups, engaging them, working together in creative ways. A quote of mine, related to compassion fatigue, was printed in a nation trade magazine too. Through an apprenticeship, I am striving to both stretch my skills and get back to the roots of what brought me into this career in the first place, companion animal behavior/training and the human-animal bond. This is mostly in self-defense but also as a way to seek future relevance and service.
A windfall project came into my household late last year that generated some much needed cash. We live month to month, check to check, and as renters with pets...seemingly always in fear about our housing. Not a week after the payment came in for this project, our car threw a rod and took out its engine. At first I was all about, "Every blinking time we get a little extra, something (car, health crisis, etc) slams us, empties what might have passed as a bit of safety savings, and leaves us running on empty again". I got over myself. While yes, this does seem to be a rather shockingly predicable pattern over the past 12 or 15 years, if you flip it over it turns into, "Just before a serious financial hit comes, some unexpected money is earned to cover it" the world is suddenly a better place.
Find the right perspective; it is world changing.
Hanging up the telephone, I think about these tenuous connections, how fragile and yet tenacious our lives are! These bonds that we are blessed with, rooted soul-deep and heart-nourished, may give us some directions when we're lost, if we allow them to. This route was not well mapped out. I'm trying to find my way by the lines of old postcards and the memory of someone's hand in mine.
It could start with the teeniest of emotional itches. You might scratch at it just a bit and find some loose corner to tug. It might take days or months or rubbing and stretching to pull it all off or it could be done in one terrifically painful jerk.
Layers of should/could/would/MUST NOT BE can take a long to notice, let alone remove. You might find yourself making slow unconscious circles over one small uneven patch of you, drawn to the wrongness of it, for years before figuring out its origin.
I’ve grown some like calluses slowly and organically, others happen suddenly like plastering fist-hole in a wall.
But what is underneath, so long apart from the rest of what is: raw and new, fresh and clean, or some other thing, maybe better forgotten?
I am in no condition to try to untangle myself; it will be more than enough just to ride this through.
She took that picture of me. I was looking at her when that image was captured. It remains utterly unsettling to think of never seeing her sgain.
The cats get fed their kibble; the dogs get cookies.
Other than those, the beginning of my day's communications are: the check my page, my son's page, my dead best friend's page, and work page plus work emails.
Oatmeal on the stove (dried berries now that it is autumn) is making breakfast.
Waking up, moving on through...
Spoke to my father, my half-brother's mother, my mother, and my Gramma
Visited with the landlord and his wife, across stream, in the home they just finished building in the old orchard
Cleaned house, not top to bottom but straighten/dusted/and comfortable
Washed three dogs
Indulged in Chinese take-out
Walked three dogs
Listened as the night came on
...rocking chair with book next up!
Loving you shaped my heart. We were so tangled up in each other that pieces were left inside the other when we tore away. Those were bindings that I could always count on, tethers to a when-ago; they are a rosary of sorts to young love, too soon, to crazy, too much. When you left us, nearly a lifetime in the past now, you didn’t allow goodbyes. I wouldn’t have given you these parts back; they are mine now. The me that I left in your keeping though, where is she now?
This funky old cabin grew from the bones of an older farmhouse, moved twice, then at last disassembled and rebuilt in a different shape. The kitchen is the heart of this place; having a living room with exposed ceiling beams and many windows, a small bedroom with an off-kilter closet door, a teeny maybe-office space, and a once porch/now walled into a small sunroom - all radiating from the cooking/eating/settling in the evening room. There is no machine to wash your dishes; they are done by hand and dried with a cotton cloth or left to dry until morning the next day. A large, rectangular table takes up the center of the room; it was build by the prior owner and I don't think is likely to be able to be moved out even if I were not enchanted by it.
A long clothesline stretches across the little ravine and the seasonal creek. There is a funny cheep and squeal to moving it along, clothes moving in the breeze, catching a bit on the rhododendron bushes that no one planted. Clothes feel more real, dried in the air coming the valley instead of heated and blown by a device.
It takes longer to do household chores but they are somehow more mine this way.
There is an apple orchard of a few dozen aging trees on the other side of the rise, where our landlord/neighbor is building his retirement home. His family name is Wolfe. Other fruit trees had started to bloom a week or more ago. That orchard was slow to awake even in this strange warm year. Is it the hollow where they grow? Their age? Or the antiquated varieties (when asked what kind they were, he waved his hand and vaguely said, "lots")? Yesterday in the dawning, I saw petals there.
Earlier this week, I unexpectedly met a local living uninvited in our place. Stepping out of my hot shower, I went to wrap my hair in a towel, and a HUGE spider dropped out and skittered around the bathroom floor. The cats were very intrigued. I was running late that morning, so at first I slid over a bag to protect the bug from the beasties and went on with my routine. I stopped myself, walked to the kitchen for a cup and paper for relocation, and captured the eight-legged dude and escorted him outside. It was wrong of me to make him wait, in possible fear and certain danger, but I am relieved that I made the right decision to make the time to come to his rescue. I have shaken my towel before using it since then.
I am working at the animal shelter, down in the coastal city below the river valley where I live. I was welcomed back from my year of exile.
I am home.
Another jar of rocks will be set free in the river tomorrow.
Lighten the load, spring is coming, motion and change are in the wind blowing everything around out there!
This morning, I tossed a short pile of old clipped-from-the-newspaper comics that had yellowed with age; it was a token start to the process. I will be combing through the stones that I have taken home and kept, tomorrow. The following day I will let most of them free again to the river. Clothing drawers are next to be culled. I am working my way up to the bookshelves.