This morning at 6:00 I dropped #4 at the droppin’ place for a week of camp in the Tennessee mountains. He was the first one there (other than the troop leader), because he has Himself’s sense of…what’s the word….I can’t remember words these days…oooo…..hm…..punctuate ithy (what?? Autocorrect? What?) punctuality. Up at 5, shower, gulped down a cup of coffee and off he went, looking like the love child of Hawkeye Pierce and Radar O’Reilly. Yep, Korean War era army helmet and a Hawaiian shirt. He said the counsellors remember him because of the helmet. Oh, and sport goggles because I won’t let him wear his regular specs. That would be dumb because of all the blob launching and white water rafting. Anyway, due to being the Senior Person What’s Almost In Charge, the leader had him a biscuit and coffee.
and so begins my Summer. I am mildly anxious about being here on my own with only myself to look after. What will happen? Likely it will be a granola bar for breakfast, a can of V-8 for lunch, and cheese and a fruit for supper. Who wants to cook well for 1? Am I going to sit at the table, all set with silverware and a flower in a vase, food in bowls, and look in the mirror and say “well, hello there, how was your day?” No I am not.
In the interest of not having very many meals with the mirror, The Summer has been pretty well planned out and filled up. There will be several trips made, ranging from going back to Alabama (supervising things, baby-holding in a month or so, supervising more things), to taking mom to Sanibel Island, something she has been wanting to do for years but Dad’s idea of hell is going some place that doesn’t have his workshop and tools. So it has been planned. I don’t know how much longer she will be up to making such a trip. Even now, she won’t be good for much more than 20 minutes walking on the beach at a time. But, she wants Sanibel and some lovely seashells, and I agreed to drive if she will pay for the hotel room. We got a room right on the beach , too. Lovely!
I am sure these emotional bits will keep coming. When I think about the soon-to-be-born grandbaby, and how much Himself was looking forward to being Grandpop, it kind of hurts. I wasn’t really planning on being a Grandma all by myself. I am sad that this grandkid won’t have Himself to enjoy. I don’t like thinking that it’s just me. When I think of being there, meeting the grandkid for the first time, and not having Himself to argue with about who gets to hold him first…that hurts.
I don’t cry every time I see his picture now. That’s nice. I can look at them and remember things and smile a little, or fuss at him for not sticking around for our old age. I can hear him now “It’s not like I PLANNED this, you know!”
Painting that chair red, that strange small act of defiance, kicked things off for me. That, and #1 cleaning up the Big Room. Yesterday was spent going through more stuff and packing things up to take to Goodwill. I have this big sideboard, a lovely huge thing that won’t make it into the new house (too big) but was full of stuff. Coffee cups, vases, that sort of thing. Most of all that was packed up to donate. Then I decided any trip to Goodwill needed to be worthwhile since it is on the other side of the Metropolis. (ok right, a solid 10 minutes away…it’s all about what you’re used to.) So the bookshelf was tackled. Himself kept every book we ever owned. Every. Single. One. I have no such sensibility. #1 was invited over to go through and get what he wanted. A few that belonged to his parents were set aside. The few I considered classics (or will be one day, or that I might re-read) were kept. Reference books, that sort of thing (I love to read me a reference book, especially that set of 1928 encyclopedias), those were kept. But the other half, those were boxed up and donated and it all felt so cathartic! Himself hasn’t been donated, just the stuff that irritated me due to it’s excess.
I guess that’s the quandary, isn’t it, the fear that by getting rid of the stuff that was his, that he kept for whatever reason, his memory was being treated disrespectfully. Respect was very important to him. So was his stuff. He felt content when he had his stuff. Maybe it was a sign to him of having Arrived, that he could have the things he wanted.
But *he* is still here, of sorts. I have albums full of photographs from things we did through the years. The sewing studio is full of furniture and boxes he built for me through the years. Everywhere in this house is a bit of something he did, or built, or influenced. I don’t need the STUFF, the detritus of 30 years of life that won’t fit into a house half the size of this one. It is cathartic to pare down, like I am keeping the core of it all and trimming away the fat and gristle. The muscle and bone of our life together is still here and I really like that.
Yesterday as we were going around town, #4 said “Mom, I hope when you remarry in about 15 years…(something more, I forget what, because my mind fritzed at the 15 years part)” in 15 years I will be 65. Now, I have heard of people that old getting married. But I don’t know…I said to him I wanted to spend a couple of years getting to know myself better first. And I do. I don’t know myself too well, as the only way up until now that I have known myself is as Himself’s Wife.
I have a friend who moved here not long after her husband died. I remember she said something about being here without the memory of her husband in everyone’s mind meant she was herself only. When I move in 2 years I will be myself only. I don’t intend to join the church my parents belong to, because I don’t want to be known as their Widow Daughter How Tragic. I have no idea what my life is going to look like in 2 years. No one does, they can only make plans and hope for the best.
Right now, this Summer and even this day, I am working toward being myself. Not someone’s mom, or wife, or even The Widow How Tragic. Fortunately the people I associate with the most are treating me as myself and beyond a sincere “how are you doing” that I can answer with an equally sincere “just fine” or “as well as can be expected” (depending on the day) they treat me like a normal person. Normal is good. It’s easier to be normal when people treat you that way.