No Shades of Gray

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When I was a young(er) woman, I often used my great-grandparents as my mental guides.

Hazel and Clifford were a wonderful, happy part of my childhood.  They lived on the family farm where Grandpa’s own Great-Grandparent’s had lived.  To me, it seemed like they had been there forever, almost like characters out of a fairytale.  Great-Grandma was a tiny, little woman who always wore a dress, old-fashioned lace-up boots, and a smile.  She taught me how to gather eggs.  I can see her bending down before me, the bun in her hair streaked with gray.  She may have been old, but her eyes were youthful and sparkled with merriment. Continue Reading »

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Upon Her Return…

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Imagine what it would be like to be plucked from your life for a year, two years, maybe even longer.  Then quite suddenly, you were back!  Well, you were back to the same place, but of course, things had changed during your absence.  That’s how my life feels now, but I’m sure no one around me notices a thing.  They hadn’t even noticed that I had been gone.

Before I go any further with these thoughts, let me say that my intent is not to criticize my family or friends.  I have been blessed with a supportive family and truly wonderful friends.  Unfortunately, some of the burden of these past few years has been mine alone to carry.  It was my dad who died.  It was my mother who was sick.  I was the one the hospital, nurses, and doctors called when there was an emergency.  I was the one who made the phone calls to check in on my mom.  T made many trips to visit my mom.  The girls went along many times, too.  When the boys were home, they made their obligatory visits.  They helped haul and carry things during her three moves these past couple of years.  The one constant in my mom’s life was ME.  If T was there, so was I.  If the girls were there, or the boys paid a visit, I was there, too.  I was there, there, there.  And now I am not.

It has been two weeks now.  Two weekends in a row I have gotten up on a Saturday AND a Sunday morning with the entire day in front of me.  It has been a strange experience.  Oh, I have plenty to do, plenty I should do, plenty I can do, just nothing that I HAVE to do.  The obligation is over, and it’s sad in a way.  I feel sad to feel so lightened.

I feel like a stranger in my own life.  I look around, and so much has changed.  My parents are gone.  Just gone.  Poof!  It suddenly feels sudden!  Two hellish years, and it feels so sudden!  What in the hell happened?

The past two weeks have been so strange.  I miss the boys.  Did you know they are gone?  Of course, they’re gone, but suddenly the house feels very empty without their messes, their loud voices, and their laughter.  They are both so happy and so involved in their own lives.  What is/has been going on here at home has been secondary at best to them.  That is as it should be, and I’m proud that they are happy and haven’t felt that I am their responsibility.  I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

Em is almost out of high school.  We will be celebrating her 18th birthday in a matter of days.  She is “in love” for the first time.  Yes, they use those words right in front of us!  Her boyfriend is sweet, protective of her, and has the most beautiful smile.  The funny thing is, he bears an almost eerie resemblance to T at that same age.

Lola is a big girl now.  She’s selling Girl Scout cookies, volunteering at an animal shelter, and has perfect grades.  They have all grown and changed so much.   When did that happen?  I have been so busy dealing, just dealing, with all of my responsibilities that I haven’t really seen a darn thing that has been going on around me.

What about T?  What has happened during the past few years with T?  Like always, T is there, has been there, will be there if I need him.  He is the foundation.  He has made sure that the necessary things have gotten done.  He has cooked many (most?) of the meals.  He does the laundry.  He drives Lola to Girl Scout meetings.  He helps with the homework, gives advice, and listens.  Of course, he doesn’t even know that he’s doing these things or that it is anything unique.  He just does them.  He doesn’t think things to death.  He just picks up the slack when it has been necessary.

I am trying to remember who I was before these past two hellish years, and where I fit in now.  The problem is, two years ago, I was a different person.  I had different dreams and vastly different ideas of where I thought my life was headed.  My view of my family and my marriage were different, too.  Remembering, or trying to once again become, who I was two years ago is irrelevant.  I don’t even want to be that woman again.  Anyway, it would not even be possible.

I had an extra-long weekend.  Lola stayed home sick from school today, and I took the day off to be home with her.  As we took an afternoon snooze, I laid there thinking about this strange, disoriented feeling I have had since my mother’s death.  I thought about how it feels like I have been plucked from some strange place and plopped down right back where I was two years ago.

As I laid there, I thought about Doris Day in the movie “Move Over, Darling.”  She had been rescued from a deserted island and returned home expecting to find her family as she had left them.  There aren’t any further similarities, thankfully, but that’s how I feel right now.  I feel like I have been on a deserted island and have returned back home expecting to find things unchanged, but that isn’t possible.  Life goes on and on.  Even if it seems at times that we, as individuals, have been stuck on a hamster wheel, those around us keep moving on and on.  I’m just going to have to work hard to catch up with everyone else.

Advance, and never halt, for advancing is perfection.  Advance and do not fear the thorns in the path, for they draw only corrupt blood. ~ Khalil Gibran