Friday, May 25, 2012

“…clear skies, with occasional melancholy”

 Judy is reading a book Life's That Way, by Jim Beaver, about the death of his wife, and she feeds me occasional quotes. She wasn't sure if she should give me the book to read, because she worries it might be too painful. And before… way before… I might have agreed with her. But now I find that it often it takes a more eloquent person expressing how they feel as they walk through the death of a loved one to enable me to make sense of what I am feeling. He writes...

Today's one of those days when I catch myself saying, "I'm never going to get over this, am I?"  And then I remember the grief recovery proscription against projecting current feelings on the future. And so I allow myself the possibility of getting over this. Whatever that means.

Lots of twinges and groans from the heart today.  No special reason, no identifiable triggers.  Highs in the upper nineties, clear skies, with occasional melancholy.

Yet another similie to add to the collection.  This is like a runaway train headed down the rails and the engineer sees a disaster looming ahead and is powerless to stop it… Life is like a river, it flows over rapids, swirls and eddies and broadens into quiet pools…

May can be a tumultuous month as far as the weather is concerned. Some days will be crystal clear and beautiful and warm, and others crystal clear and beautiful and a bit nippy. It was very windy yesterday, Richard regretting that we do not have a windmill to generate power. Some mornings one wakes up to heavy fog hugging the land. Some days there are ferocious storms. In fact, it was about this time last year that a good portion of Joplin was destroyed by a tornado.

And the tumultuous weather is a good similie for the tumult in May on an emotional level as well.

Clear, with a chance of melancholy…

Even when one knows intellectually that one’s parents are going to eventually die, one is never quite ready for it. This was my third Mother’s day without my Mom and my second Mother’s Day without my son. Missing my mom so much. Being thankful I had the chance to be a mother myself… missing our son so much.

And overwhelmed at how loving my husband was on that day. He made me a pretend card as though our son were here to give it to me. He picked some daisies, as though they were from our son, and put them in the cup of the “trophy” our boy gave me on the last Mother’s Day we were to have.

And then on Wednesday morning of this week, I arrived back home from aerobics to a message from my Dad on the answering machine that his last surviving sister, Aunt Vera, had died. About 3 months ago she was given “3 to 6 months” to live, and the doctor had it about right. I am happy I got to see her last June when my niece got married. I am so sorry that my three cousins and their families have this sorrow in their lives.

I especially love this picture of her and my mother, which was taken 2 months before my mother died. 

It is one of the last pictures anybody took of my mother that I have, at any rate. My mother had a spiritual bond with Vera, and my sister tells me of a conversation she overheard between Mom and Vera shortly after Mom found out she had cancer. She had told my aunt, “Vera, I am on my way to heaven, and you’re a-comin’ with me…” And I believe she was right. I believe Vera is in heaven with her right now.

But it hasn’t been all sorrow and melancholy.

Early in the month, I moved the ancient cactus that once belonged to my Grandfather outside under a tree and poured about a half-gallon of water on it. This cactus was part of much larger cactus garden he had in his yard in the 1960s, and it went with him when he and my step-grandmother sold the house and moved into a mobile home park. And my father brought it with him when they came to visit us here in the early 1980s after my grandfather had died. 

A few days later one gorgeous flower appeared on the little prickly sausages.

A mother armadillo has taken up residence in the old culvert under our driveway, and Richard spotted her and 3 babies the other day as he was leaving in the truck; in fact, the babies were running around under the vehicle. He says one of them stopped to sniff his tire. These armadillos will almost certainly be killed on the highway in front of the house, but for the time being, they are safe with us. We do not have a fancy lawn, or beautiful flowerbeds, or an extensive garden. We don’t care if armadillos make holes in the ground looking for food.

Having decided we no longer wish to run the gauntlet of scolding wrens every time we come in or out of the back door, or listen to them berate the cat all day for sprawling on porch, we removed everything that they could possibly build a nest in from around the back door. 

So they constructed their nest this year in the coil of an air hose hanging on the back wall the garage (which used to be the side of our house). It is exactly at eye level as we come walking down the stairs,

 so we get a peak at the 4 fuzz-covered heads with gaping mouths that bob around waiting for mom and dad to bring bugs.

And my two nieces received their Master’s degrees on Wednesday. What a joy for all of us and especially their parents.

I believe Grandpa is especially proud of them. So am I... which reminds me...

Monday, May 07, 2012

Passing inspection

On more than one occasion, I have opened the packaging for a product I have bought and found a small slip of paper imprinted with variations of the wording “Inspected by….,” which I guess is to reassure me that there is some sort of quality control on the items the company has manufactured and shipped to the retailer.

Mothers often put their own version of an “Inspected by” on their children before they leave the house to go someplace where their appearance matters. One doesn’t want to be embarrassed by one’s child being dirty or poorly dressed, or whatever. Giving the kid a “once-over” to make sure the little darling hasn’t gotten into something between the time he or she was dressed and the time to leave or making sure the kid is wearing something halfway presentable.

I imagine mothers’ spit has cleaned up quite a few dirty faces down through the generations.

Now the problem I am facing is, “Who inspects the mothers?”

It was a lovely, warm evening. Richard decided to wear his Bermuda shorts and a light-weight shirt my sister had given him, and I decided to wear my pull-up jeans, the sort with an elastic waist and a fake fly and a fake snap, because they are comfortable, and a top my sister gave me that still fits, and so we hoisted ourselves into the truck off we went.

And as the sun was starting to get low in the sky on the night of the biggest full moon of the year, we journeyed out into the country and up a very rough driveway to the top of a hill to celebrate the birthday of the guy who fixes our computers.

We sat around on lawn chairs with a small group of other well-wishers and ate and were very careful about keeping an eye on our plates, which were being carefully watched by several of the Great Pyrenees dogs that she breeds and shows, as we watched the gorgeous moon rise up above the trees on the ridge.

Then I got up to go to the picnic table to get something else to eat, and for some reason, started to stick my hand in my pocket and discovered, much to my horror, that my pocket was not where it was supposed to be.

I had put my pants on backward.

And so I sauntered into the house, took my jeans off and put them on again the right way, and rejoined the party, feeling very silly indeed.

I hope nobody noticed.

I guess from now on I will have to recruit Richard to inspect me before I leave.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Awl, tars, and warplars

One day I was bustling around the kitchen and our boy walked in and said:

I’m gonna take miy cuar in and have the awl changed and see about getting some new tars.

I had not really noticed up to then, that this child, who had spent the first 18 months of his liefe in Los Angeles and from birth had heard everybody around him talking like Californians, and aside from his first intelligible sentence, which was  “Go by by car? Train,” had begun talking in earnest during the next 2 years when we were in Oregon—another place where people spoke without a very distinctive local accent that we could hear—had suddenly started putting a different spin on certain words.


I recall mentioning this to my friend Judy, whose husband was born and raised in the Ozarks a little more south of here, and who she met when they were students at colluge in Arikansus. She relayed a funny story about an incident early in their marriage where she was trying to hand him tools while he was up on a ladder fixing something. 

He asked her to hand him the “warplars.” 

She was from Indiana, and had no idea what he was talking about. He began to get a little frustrated with her because the warplars were not immediately forthcoming.  

She said she wasn’t sure what the warplars were and he said ‘you know, the warplars,” and suddenly the light went on and she figured out he meant “wire pliers.”

The whole business of regional accents and expressions is quite fascinating, but I suspect the regional distinctions in how words are pronounced and used may be starting blur a little because of television and because more and more people move from one place to another. It used to be all you had to do was open your mouth and a local knew “you ain’t from around here, are ya? And occasionally, that is still true. We have good friends now who just moved here from Massachusetts. I know they "ain't from around here!"

I know I have learned to modify how I speak since we arrived here in 1980, and so has Richard. The other day when we were picking up trash in front of Lee’s Tar Shop, he bent down and said, “Wouldja look at this! A piece of bobwar.”

This morning as I left to go to aerobics, I heard a brown thrasher in the big maple tree outside the house, filling the air with his amazing song. I couldn’t see him, of course, but his song was unmistakable. I wonder if birds from one region sing with an accent?

(P.S. Some words deliberately spelled wrong to stop "Text Enhance" from automatically putting in a link to advertisements)