Too Many Goodbyes

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I called my son Andrew last night, and I told him, “I hate this whole f’ing growing up thing!”  He said, “Whoa, Mom!”  He knew what I meant.  We had been talking about his brother’s visit home last week.  While Andrew wanted to hear all about it, he hated the fact that he had not been able to come home, too.  He said, “I wish that I could be part of the antics, Mom.” Continue Reading »

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Which Way?

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Is it possible to be too sad and exhausted to even consider going on vacation?  I know that I need to get away.  I do, but there are so many things pressing on me right now.  It seems easier to just stay here and keep plugging away at everything one by one.  If I could check a few things off of my list, if a few things could be resolved, then maybe I could relax and enjoy a vacation.  As it is, I feel like my world might come crashing down if I don’t keep my finger plugging the leak in the dam I call my life.

I had a crappy day followed by an evening spent with my mother.  On Saturday, she announced that she wanted to sell the house.  What???  I had no idea where this pronouncement came from.  She is doing fine financially.  She won’t outlive her money, but she wants to sell the house.  It’s the only thing I care about.  She can keep all the money or spend it on diamond rings for all I care.  I wanted to keep the house.  It’s where I grew up, was married; it’s where all of my memories are still real and fresh.  Now she wants to sell it.

The house remains full of 40 years worth of belongings.  My mother has forbidden me to “get rid of” anything.  There are sets of china, silver, and crystal.  I don’t want any of it.  My kids don’t want anything, yet she has remained steadfast that I keep everything where it sits.  When I have mentioned everything in the house to her in the past, she has told me to box it up and rent a storage unit.  Well, that made no sense at all.  Why waste the money on a rental unit?  When I asked her what she wanted me to do with everything in the house, she said, “Call an auctioneer.  They will take everything out of the house.”  I might add that she said it to me as if I were an idiot.  DUH!  Why hadn’t I ever thought of selling all that stuff?  Hmmm….  Oh, I’m just upset.  There is no reason to sell the house.  I am an only child.  There isn’t anyone else.  Why in the world would she do this one last thing to hurt me?

Last night, T and I went over to the house.  We made a list of the things we would need to do.  I sat in the living room and cried.  T and I had been once again discussing US moving into the house.  Now that isn’t going to happen.  Instead, I will have to watch as strangers live in the house.  Or maybe not, I can’t imagine.

Tonight T brought the list of repair to discuss with my mother.  God bless him.  She thinks he’s a saint.  He is, and he is trying to buy some time for me.  He has offered to do all of the work on the house.  He’s hoping that he can string this out long enough so that it’s no longer an issue.

My mom loved the idea.  She listened and looked at T adoringly as he told her what needed to be done to the house.  As he was talking, his phone rang, and he stepped out into the hall to take the call.  As soon as he stepped out, my mom hissed at me, “I know you don’t want to sell the house.  Well, too bad.  I need the money.”  All I said was, “OK, Mom.”

I’m wiped out and defeated.  I’m not sure what I would do without T.  He keeps me calm, and he is kind.  He brought a truck home from work tonight.  I know that might sound strange, but he knew I would feel better if we rode in a truck tonight.  He was right.  There I was wearing my dress clothes from work climbing up into a pickup truck.  As we drove home, I cranked (yes, cranked) down the window.  We drove through the country, and I watched the lightning bugs in the ditches and fields.  T and I talked.  I cried.  Again, I cried.  It seems like I am always crying.  Me, who had not cried in years.  We wound our way home the “back way.”  Up and down the country roads that only locals know.  My mom and dad’s house is the first home on the edge of our little town.  I could see it through the darkness.  I saw my old window.  When I looked at the fence in the side yard, I pictured my dad standing there by the hollyhocks for a fleeting moment.  How many times did I see him in that spot tending his garden?  I could picture him looking up, seeing me, and the smile would spread across his face.  Oh, this is so so very unfair.

T offered to buy the house.  Well, he told me to offer that to my mom.  I simply can’t do that.  I would feel too damn selfish.  It’s too much money to take away from the rest of the family purely for sentimental reasons.  Maybe it will sell, and then I will have no more ties to this place or this town.  Maybe I will feel a sense of freedom and move across the country.  T would willingly leave here.  He has wanted to leave here for years.  It has  always been me who has wanted to remain.  This place was/is in my heart.  Mine alone, and now I feel like it is all being taking away from me.  Yes, I am selfishly feeling sorry for myself.

So, a vacation?  Ha!  I don’t have any excitement.  I don’t feel like packing or planning or getting everything arranged.  Having said that, I don’t want to waste money on something that I really don’t care about.  There is a work conference that I’ll miss if I take time for a vacation.  I could stay, go to the conference,  work on the house.  Trudge through a few more days and weeks, allow my heart to heal instead of forcing myself to have fun.

I have lost my zest for life.  I wish I could get it back.  I wish I could find it once again.  I look in the mirror, and I don’t even know this sad woman looking back at me.  I don’t even like her!  I wish I could find the peace that would make all of these adjustments easier.  Is a vacation the answer?  I’m not sure why, but I am afraid to leave.  Am I afraid of the next step?  Am I afraid to go on this trip, let go of my demons and allow myself to have a good time, or am I afraid that no matter where I go, the demons will follow?

 

Dad? Is That You?

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As I mentioned over the weekend, our little town has “Garage Sale Day” each year in June.  As if that’s not fun enough, the following week is Village Clean-Up.  Seriously, I love Village Clean-Up.   For the past three years or so, my head has so far far up my ass that I didn’t savor this wonderful week as fully as I could/should have.  This year, I have plenty to set out in my trash….literally and figuratively (which gives me even more great ideas!)

Last night was Cheeseburger Sunday, so we had a houseful of strapping young people to help us haul our junk to the curb.  We fairly emptied out the back shed of its accumulation of years and years worth of kids’ toys.  The crib went out to the curb, too, along with the kiddie pool, and a variety of bikes.  After we had a significant pile in front of our house, we decided to head over to my parents’ vacant house to haul a few of the heavier, non-auction items to the curb.

Those of you who stuck it out with me on my other blog are familiar with how difficult I have found it to let go of my childhood home.  This time last year, T and I were considering a massive addition/renovation to the house.  Once we realized that we would have been putting more money into the house than we would have ever be able to get out of it if we ever sold, we nixed the project altogether.  The house has continued to sit in limbo.  Its a bit forlorn, and except for the occasional “Mom and Dad need a place to be alone,” no one spends any time there at all.

Well, Mom and Dad have been needing to “be alone” quite often recently, and with the summer lawn care, T and I have been spending more time over there lately.  The conversations have begun again.  “Should we move here?”  We have been batting around a new plan.  If we sold our house first, then we would be debt-free.  We would also have a significant profit to work with for a less-major remodeling project.  We would be downsizing, but that makes sense at this point.  Hey, maybe one (or two) of the kids will eventually move out, and then we wouldn’t need so much space!  As we have discussed, the possibilities for a more modest renovation, we have both been getting kind of excited about a change.  The neighborhood and yard are wonderful.  It’s a cute brick bungalow.  As much history as we have in our current house, there is so much more in my parents’ home.  We both remember my great-grandparents and grandparents visiting there.  Our babies grew into young adults while their own grandparents lived in that home.  I grew up there.  Our wedding reception was in the backyard.  T and my dad built the brick patio especially for that event.  T and I have a huge shared history in that house.  It’s so hard to imagine letting that repository of our memories go.

There’s a downside, though.  Finding my father dead in the living room that horrible December night is memory that none of us have been able to get past.  We are wary each time we open the door of that house.  Lola won’t let go of my hand for at least ten minutes each time we go over there.  None of us can walk into the living room without our eyes darting to that spot on the floor where grandpa left us.  We are trying to forget.  All of us are trying.  It’s beginning to lift.  I feel it.  The old house is beginning to feel more normal.  We are going to take it a step further by removing the carpets soon and refinishing the hardwood floors.  A fresh coat of paint will help lift the house’s spirits, too.

Last night, we were took things to the curb (which was very difficult!) at my parents’ home, and we searched from room to room to see what else could go.  The old couch from the TV room, ah…lots of memories there!  My parents must have had that couch for over 30 years, and the two ugly velvet chairs.  We had a nice pile, which by the way, the “Pickers” were there like vultures waiting for each load we hauled outside.  That’s my favorite thing about Village Clean-Up.  I love the scruffy guys in beat up pickup trucks driving slowly around town looking for their treasures.

Lola and I headed into the living room to look out the window at the pile.  I purposely took her through to the sun room.  She told me that she felt like she was stepping on Grandpa.  I agreed with her.  I always feel the same thing.  She and I stood there for a moment looking at an old floor lamp.  As ugly as it was, I always loved that lamp when I was a little girl.  Andrew came in and asked me if I wanted to get rid of it.  I flipped on one of the three lights on the lamp.  It worked.  I said I wasn’t so sure that I wanted to get rid of it.  It was so retro.  Maybe I’ll keep it.  He agreed.  He said he had always loved that lamp, too.  Then he said, “What in the hell is this?  Is this a bird?”

Lola and I saw the dark shape through the amber glass.  It looked like the shape of a bird!  I immediately thought of the fake birds I remembered from flower arrangements and wreaths as a child.  That’s probably what it was!  I told Andrew to lift up the amber globe, and we all took a step back.  My God!  It WAS a DEAD BIRD!  It was in the skinny clear glass around the bulb.  Head first, the bird was shoved down the tube.  Its claws were curved into grotesque fists and a streak of bird shit was smeared on one side of the glass.  We were stunned and speechless.  We yelled for T to come see.  Yeah, and we all grabbed our phones and started taking pictures.  Any thoughts of keeping the lamp were GONE.  Andrew carried it out to the curb.

Today I had lunch with T.  I asked him if he thought the bird was a sign?  “Jesus….” he said.  Well, that’s the extent of that conversation.  T takes no stock in such things, but I have thought about it frequently today.  One thing I do know for sure is that my dad would have absolutely loved it!  It was just the kind of random, weird happening that would have kept him entertained and in conversation for days.  He would have loved telling that story.  He would have loved seeing our faces.  I hope he did see it all, because I know he would still be laughing.

Tonight as I was hoeing the garden, Emily came out to help me.  As we worked, she asked me if I though the bird was an omen.  “AH……I KNOW!!”  I practically yelled at her.  I told her that I had told Dad.  Her reaction was “phffft…..  Why did you do that?”  She knows that he wouldn’t see anything as an omen, even a black bird shoved down into a lamp in the same room where a man died.  Uh huh.

I have mulled it over.  I’ve tried to gather the message or the meaning.  As creepy and strange as it all seems, I am not afraid of the dead bird.  It doesn’t feel bad or evil, but it does feel important.  I feel like I am supposed to dig and search for a deeper meaning, or a sign, from this experience.  That’s what I have been exploring in my head all evening.  What does it mean?

Why doesn’t it seem like a gloomy or a dooming omen?  I am surprised that I don’t feel a sense of foreboding.  I should, but I don’t.  Instead, a thought is beginning to take shape.  “Let it go.  Let it die.  It’s simple and easy.”  Now, that also seems gloomy and foreboding, but once again, that isn’t the feeling I have as I think those thoughts.  Instead, I am thinking that the sadness needs to die.  Holding onto negative, self-defeating thoughts have to die.  I have to let go of the BAD.  I have to let the BAD die, and like that lamp (which I loved)  and the dead bird (which was gross!) I have to take MY OWN BAD out to the curb.  I have to let go of the bad and kick it to the curb.