Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ashes to Ashes

Today we scattered EG's ashes. We waited until now because Nita announced that this would be the month. I set the date with a minister friend of my sister's, who came to do the simple ceremony.

Last spring, I stood at my kitchen sink and looked out over the far back yard, and I thought, "I'd like to see yellow out there." The morning he died, EG and I again discussed our wishes for our remains. I had always wanted to be scattered out in the "far back" with our pets from over the years, and he had recently decided he wanted to be out there, too. He said, "This is home."

Earlier in the afternoon, my sister came, and in the rain, we planted fifteen forsythia, and we put in over fifty Prince Alfred daffodil bulbs. I should see some yellow out there this spring, and the plants should gradually spread. I would like to put a garden in the entire quarter acre, doing it gradually, over time, with maybe a bench so I can go and sit with him and the dogs and cats and rabbits. I might as well get used to being out there.

The scattering ceremony was nicer and easier than I expected. The girls each did a reading. I had put ashes in seven paper cups, so each person distributed part of him. Once I spread my cup, I knew this was right. I took the rest of the ashes and tossed them high, watching them soar, and knew then that he was soaring, too.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mary Library

My mother, even though she didn't finish high school, was a well-read person. She loved books and loved learning. I remember her teaching me to read before I went to school, and she passed her love for books down to me.

Mom wanted to be around kids, so when we were in school, she got a part-time job in the school cafeteria, and went back to earn her General Equivalency Diploma at night. Math was her greatest challenge, and I vividly remember standing in the kitchen, holding the phone, and listening to her share her pride with me that she had passed her test and earned her diploma so many years after leaving high school. She had actually called from a payphone rather than wait to get home to tell us, and she told me she wasn't sure while she was taking the test if she had passed that math part.

I think this was a great lesson for a young person, witnessing someone face a subject which was difficult and work at it.

Mom had a plan. She applied for, interviewed for, and got a job as a teacher's aide at another school in the system, eventually working her way back to the school in our neighborhood. Then the library aide position opened up, and she applied for that; much to her delight, she was hired.

The library was pretty sad when Mom took over. Some of the books which were on the shelves had last been checked out by me, and I was by then in my later years of high school. The room was plain and dreary. Mom had book sales and fund raisers, Buying new shelving and carpeting the space. She added to the collection, replacing John F. Kennedy's Profiles of Courage with books on dinosaurs and monsters, replacing the dusty collections of poems by Joyce Kilmer with Shel Silverstein and Maurice Sendak. He theory was that, if you could get kids to read, they would discover how wonderful it was and gradually move on to the more serious stuff, but few kids would willingly start with the droner books. Those she culled mercilessly, giving them away to rummage sales or wherever else she could send them.

While in art class in high school, my sister made a huge paper mache stork-like bird wearing crew socks and red tennis shoes. Mom took the bird to school, christened him "Word Bird," and hung him over the dictionary. Every week, she would hang a new word around Word Bird's neck, and open the dictionary to that page, and the kids would read the definition and learn to use a dictionary.

Mom's eye doctor had her trifocals special made so she could comfortably read the numbers on the books to shelve them. Her days were spent doing what she loved, working around children and books. My sister said, "She hated Fridays and loved Monday mornings." She was useful and energized and enjoyed every aspect of her job.

Dad retired, and mom would most likely still be in her library if it hadn't been for the attempt to computerize her. She retired after ten happy years, and the library was dedicated in her honor, with a plaque on the wall outside in the hall. When Mom passed away, we requested memorials be made to the school library, the place where she was most happy.

In the past year, the library was moved to a new space in the new addition to the school; it is a big room with lots of light, laminate flooring, and a computer lab. Mom would have been delighted. The current librarian (my mother would approve of her, to be sure) held on to the memorial money to use in the new space.

Last night, the school had an open house in honor of its fiftieth anniversary. It was a nice celebration. My sister and I received a special invitation from the current school librarian to view the items which were selected from Mom's memorial. There is now a welcoming corner with a pretty red and blue rug and red and blue beanbag chairs, a place for kids to relax and enjoy books. There are some new books. On the table there, was a sign describing where these items came from; Mrs. K described my mom as a "past librarian." In reality, Mom's job title was "library aide," as she did not have the paper credentials to be a librarian. However, in her heart, she was a librarian, and we appreciated her being referred to that way.

At the entrance to the library is a big rug which reads, "Welcome to our library." I like the use of "our," as Mom will always be a part of the library. But even more important, I like that a little part of Mom will be welcoming all those children to her wonderful world of books. She would be pleased.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

TMI and the Single Girl

Not too long ago, I was at the dentist's office with Kiki, and a woman who knows someone I know was there, and she asked me about dating again. Let me be clear: she did not ask me out; she simply mentioned that I would have to think about dating again.

Let me be even more clear: I would rather tear my own leg off and beat myself in the head with it. A lot. First of all, two months is a bit soon for that. Second, the guys who are my age are interested in women in their thirties, and the guys who are ten years older are also interested in women in their thirties. I guess I would have to start cruising the retirement centers to meet someone.

I have too much to process and attend to, so there is no way I want the drama and emotional chaos attached to dating right now.

I was on a widow website tonight, and there was a post by a woman advertising her book which chronicled her love (and love life) with her husband, and then addressed how she met her physical needs once he as gone. Whoa. We are talking waaayyyy too much information, here, not to mention the sheer creepiness of reading soft porn about someone who is dead. The worst part,though, was that the writing was grammatically incorrect and choppy and could have used some serious editorial intervention.

Perhaps the editor could have tossed it into the dumpster.

It was just a thought.

It Makes Me Wonder

One thing about the physical symptoms of grief is that they make you wonder if it's grief or if you're getting sick.

Or maybe you're getting sick because of grief.

I have been waking in the night and crying. I think now that it is for two reasons. First, Rocky's court issues are more or less resolved, so my energy is not devoted to worrying about the worst possible outcome. Oh, and the neighbors involved in all this are gone on a vacation, so we have some peace; I didn't realize how invasive their presence really is. But mainly my renewed grief is because this weekend we will be scattering EG's ashes out back where he wanted them, with the buried pets.

It is where I want to be put, too.

The Catholic church (or a representative in the form of a priest), informed me EG needed to be placed in one place on consecrated ground. Consequently, I found a Methodist minister who will come out and bless the ground--and I can justify him being in one place by pointing out that he is in the back quarter-acre here and not scattered throughout the neighborhood or in Lake Erie (although I could argue that Lake Erie is one place).

We will plant 15 forsythia and put in over 50 daffodils to naturalize, and we have already planted some black-eyed Susans around the pine trees out there. I have some daylilies, and I will add yellow sunflowers, which he liked, too. When I look out my kitchen window, I will see yellow, and I will put a bench out there, with some solar lighting, so I can go out there and sit.

However, it is cold comfort compared to having the real thing.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Benadryl or Not, Here I Come

Last night, I took a Benadryl, and Harry woke me at 3:30 a.m. to be let out. Of course, I didn't get to sleep again right away, so when 5:20 and the alarm came around, I had a difficult time waking up. I finally turned the light on and forced myself to a sitting position, hoping that would propel me into the day.

Unfortunately, the propulsion was too low level to leave the gravitational pull of the bed. I mentally orbited there all day, all during work, vetting an injured chicken, cooking food, and driving the taxi and all else that I did.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Yesterday morning I ran Rocky over to the fire station--he was volunteering at the fundraising lunch booth for the fire department's craft fair. Then I took Kii to get her temps, ran to the store for milk, and took cider and donuts to my sisters for a visit. Or, rather, we visited, and the cider and donuts were refreshments.

On the way home, my lovely neighbor behind me called and asked if he could come over and weed whack my side of the fence at the back of his property. I, of course, said yes. When he showed up, he said he wanted to mow back there, too, and he would just use my tractor. However, we discovered that the tire on the mower had popped its seal, most likely by me smooshing into it with the bumper of the car. So, my sweet neighbor started to remove the tire, but it was stuck. I had to run kids to music lessons, so I left him there in the garage with a two-by-four and a rubber mallet, and drove off.

It turns out that he took the tire home, which is about a half mile, as he has to go by the road. Then he finagled a new seal and blew the tire up with his compressor, brought it back, put it back on the tractor, and then proceeded to, ahem, "test it out" by mowing most of the acre of lawn. He then weed whacked while I finished mowing, including every tree, flower bed, and fence on the place. The yard looks gorgeous.

While I was at the music lessons, Kiki's violin teacher told me her instrument was too big for her, and that she needed a three-quarters size violin. I priced them and nearly fainted. However, the owner of the music store (which is where EG worked), gave me a deal on the rental, extending their advertised special out indefinitely for us.

Today Nita went with her friend and his family to a fall festival, and the older two and I went on the fall foliage tour here in the county, which had been a tradition with their dad and me for the past twenty years. It was hard, as I missed their dad today and felt lonely despite the kindnesses I had experienced, and to add to the bittersweet mood, we toured the County Home, where my mother had worked before she married my father. I had never been there until today. I was pensive as we walked to the door, focusing on keeping my feelings under control. Rocky poked me several times with his finger. "Mom," he said, and nodded toward an older man in a very small pair of curve-hugging flesh-toned shorts, reclined on his stomach on the lawn, apparently sunbathing.

I stopped dead and stared, not certain what I was seeing. "Waughk," I finally croaked out. Rocky, pleased with himself at getting this reaction, smirked and said, "Well, at least he isn't on his back." I shuddered. At that point, Kiki lost it and literally choked on her own laughter. Once we were safely back in the car, the two of them hooted with laughter at my reaction to Shorts Man.

Tonight I took the kids out to eat at a Chinese restaurant. The food was mediocre, but we all sat in the booth and talked comfortably with one another, and I felt less lonely. I realized that I really do like my children, and I think they like me, too.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Milestone number two

Today Kiki passed the written test for her temporary learner's driver's license.

Another thing her daddy missed witnessing.