Monthly Archives: June 2014

How We Are

People keep asking how we are. Here’s a visual representation:

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Mostly what we are is exhausted.

This is a picture from around noon. This is after Elias put himself to bed last night because he couldn’t wait for us to do it (that’s a first) and after they slept at least an hour later than usual this morning. We went to the pharmacy, which is a 15 minute drive if you take it reeeeeaaaaallll slow. Levi fell asleep on the way and, when we got back in the car, asked permission to finish his nap. (!?!) They both zonked on the way back and I snapped this after I pulled into the garage.

I’m not a lot better. I want to take a bike ride this afternoon – I think it’d go a long way toward making me feel more normal – but I’m not sure I’ll be able to peel myself off the couch.

Here’s to naps!

Mo(u)rning

It’s the morning of Mom’s funeral and I’m lying in bed. I’ve been awake for half an hour, but I don’t want to get up. I was hoping to wake up this morning feeling, if not better, at least stronger after sleep.

Elias came in this morning sad and grouchy. He curled up against my side, insinuated his legs around mine, and stuck his thumb in his mouth. He sighed a big sigh and went back to sleep, comforted to his soul. Is it weird to envy a three-year-old boy?

A man came through the visitation line yesterday, toward the end. He’s a recent widower, and coming back to many of the same people in the same building can’t have been easy for him. I thanked him for coming and told him how much we appreciate it. “I know,” he said, and patted my hand.

If you haven’t been in that position, you maybe can’t quite know. But believe that every kind face and thoughtful act is deeply appreciated. If I haven’t said thank you yet, forgive me.

I can’t put this off any longer. I have to get up and take a shower, and gird up my loins. I am counting on the promise that God heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds. I hope that includes propping them up a bit, too.

Adieu

This was not the day that I had planned for today. I am supposed to be on Cape Cod right now, celebrating the wedding of my friend. I should be wearing a bridesmaid dress, though I’m certain the shoes would be long gone.

Instead, I am sitting at my kitchen table at home. My sister and I just finished writing up a list of hymns to be sung at our mother’s funeral on Monday. She had a list ready and we just had to sift through them, which is good, because we’re neither of us thinking very clearly yet.

There are so many little snippets from the last 36 hours. I have been sitting here staring at the screen trying to figure out how to weave them into a story to share. And … I just can’t. Not yet, anyway. I am so tired, and sad. I think maybe I’m so tired I don’t even know yet how sad I am.

The machinery of death has taken over our lives for a few days. And this is good, really. Rituals and traditions can chafe sometimes, but they can also provide direction and comfort. If your head isn’t really in the game, sometimes being told what’s next is nice.

The machinery doesn’t always work perfectly, though. About eight hours after Mom died, her house phone rang. When Mary Lou answered, someone in billing at the hospital asked for Mom’s Medicare number. Because they hadn’t gotten that before she was discharged. “Discharged?” we said afterward, “Is that what they’re calling it now?”

My nephew sent me a picture last night from his phone. Because the way I saw her last is not the way I most want to remember her, I’ve been pulling this up all day instead.

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I love you, Mom.

Catching Up

I’m writing this over breakfast in the quiet of the morning of Wedding Eve. Lots to do today, starting with a nail appointment and picking up speed from there as we head toward the rehearsal dinner at the end of the day. (How fun is it that my list of responsibilities starts with having a manicure?)

My trip started with a 90-minute delay at the airport. As I was sitting around before anything happened with the plane, I saw these pants:

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I haven’t seen pants like that since the 80s when I was pegging my jeans and wearing three pairs of color-coordinated socks over the legs. I took a surreptitious picture to send to a friend, and then the angel on my shoulder cleared her throat in my ear and I decided I was better than that. (Spoiler alert: I’m actually not.)

Then they announced that we would be delayed. Fabulous 80s Pants shed his harmless passenger skin and turned into the ranting, aggressive jerk we all hope is on the other flight. He stood behind me in line and growled curses into my ear. He elbowed me out of the way at the front when an agent was free, because his connecting flight was 15 minutes sooner than he’d overheard me say mine was. He answered his cell phone “DOMINO’S PIZZA” as loudly as if he were actually working the register there as pizza pans clanged in the back. And stayed on it while he tried to talk to the gate agent, with his mouth full of the free chips they’d trundled out to soothe the masses. He sprayed the counter a little with crumbs when he got really wound up. As we boarded later, he sat in first class with his eyes shut and his face turned away as if he couldn’t bear to watch the steerage passengers trundle on.

I am willing to believe that he was having a terrible day and there were extenuating circumstances. He may actually be a very good guy, and I saw him at his worst moment. But that day? He totally deserved those pants. (Seriously, though, I know I’m not exactly a fashion guru and I live not-in-town in a town with one four-way stop. So I’m willing to be taught. Are those really in again? Really and truly?)

I was delighted to make my connecting flight with a margin of about three minutes, and when I landed in Providence, I headed for ground transportation. A guy in a cart offered me a ride, and I said, “Nah, I’m fine. Thanks!”

Tip for the Day: If you’re headed for the car rentals in Providence airport, and someone offers you a ride, take it. It is rather a long walk, especially weighed down by all the necessary shoes.

My spirit was soothed by my ride, though.

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It’s a lot of fun, though I can’t keep the top down all the time. The bride and I are both pasty girls, and we don’t want to be bright pink for the pictures. Also I noticed a very handsome young policeman looking admiringly in my direction as I was nosing through a construction zone. I know he was checking out the car, but it made me grin anyway.

I met my friend MEA for dinner. We had giant burgers and they were fantastic.

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By the time I got to the house (I’m staying with the bride’s parents in their rental), it was dark and I couldn’t see the ocean. I had the top down, though, and I could smell it as I got closer, which was almost as good.

This is the beach access by our house, which I got to see in the morning.

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The shore here (we’re on the bay) is rocky from the hard winter, but gorgeous. I don’t want to swim or build sand castles, so rocky doesn’t bother me at all.

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Speaking of rocks, I was in Plymouth for meetings on Monday, and my boss drove me over to Plymouth Rock. I’m not sure what I was expecting. Probably something bigger. But it was a fun little detour.

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Almost time to leave, and I’m still in my pajama pants. More later …

Happy Father’s Day

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Bzzzzzzzzz

I decided to buy a clippers and see if I can cut the boys’ hair. I’m tired of paying for haircuts. I’m tired of paying for my own haircuts, too, but I have serious concerns about the way I’d look with an all-over buzz.

Elias was a little suspicious at first, but I promised him a Tootsie Pop if he got through it.

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I probably need to work on my technique. He never looks like this when he’s in process at the barbershop.

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I think he looks a little like he has fur here. Poor boy. I guess we could use a cape, but we’re more into just hosing him down after.

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He was much better after a bath, though, with all the itchy stuff gone. I know I’m biased, but I think he really pulls off the quarter-inch buzz.

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Levi didn’t need a haircut, but he’s next up on the block. I may even talk Paul into it.

I’m at the stage of prepping for a trip at which I’m finally abandoning all the items on my list that I labeled would-be-nice but would more accurately be called only-if-I-didn’t-sleep-for-a-week. It turns out that I’m not going to manage to wipe down all the cabinets in the kitchen before I leave. Because that was realistic.

I haven’t packed a blessed thing. I’m only packing for myself this time, so I’m not too worried about it. Except for the shoes. I want to bring ALL THE SHOES. (I might have an eensy shoe problem. Too minor to mention, really.) The good news is that since I’m in the wedding, there is at least one day where I know exactly what I’m wearing. Even the shoes.

Shirts and Dirt

Sorting through baby clothes has been on my list for awhile. I’ve been waiting for one of my friends to have a baby boy, and it finally happened. Almost everything my children have ever worn has been a gift or a hand-me-down, and I wanted to pass on the bounty. So I pulled out the few things that needed to be returned to the original lenders, set those aside, and dug in. I ran across a lot of tiny little outfits attached to happy memories. I packed up the outfit Levi wore to the wedding of the friends that are getting the clothes. I put in the denim overalls that I bought as a present for my nephew David, now 8, that came back to Levi and then Elias, and are still adorable. It was fun.

I did find one thing I’m not passing on.

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Gasser’s Masonry was my dad’s business. Some of my first memories are of running around the “junkyard.” I’m not sure why I called it that, since it didn’t store junk. There were piles and piles of bricks and blocks. Also a huge pile of sand that fluctuated in size depending on when they’d filled it up last and how much they were using for … whatever masons use sand for. Basically the best sandbox ever. Also incredibly dirty, which made my mom crazy for reasons I didn’t fully understand until, oh, about five years ago.

Dad got those little baby shirts printed up and handed them out all over the place. I have never been very sentimental about stuff (though I’m leaning more that way lately), but I was very happy that one of these found its way to me, and I got to take pictures of my babies in it. It’s just a little shirt, but it’s a link to their Grandpa Gasser, who has been gone these twenty years. And cheaper than another link Levi apparently has to that grandpa, which is an underbite. Probably I should have started saving for the orthodontist a couple of years ago. (To my knowledge, none of the other grandkids have (or had) one, which means that the only grandchild of a man with an impressive underbite to share that characteristic with him is one that has no shared genetic link. The universe has an odd sense of humor.)

It’s tempting to just pack up and pass along the clothing in the boys’ current sizes, since they barely wear any in the summertime. I went for a walk on the bike trail as soon as Paul got home from work Friday. It’s one of my current favorite things to do, mostly because it gets me out of the house and into the fresh air for a little bit, and I don’t have to settle any property disputes or mediate allegations of abuse during the time I’m gone. Paul told the boys to get ready to go feed the pigs.

As I was pulling out of the garage, I saw this.

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Shorts-only, bare feet, bouncing in the bed of the truck hollering for Papa to HURRY UP AND GET YOUR SHOES ON because bedtime comes way too soon.

They get so dirty in the summertime. But they get awfully happy, too. I guess I can live with that.