Oct 31

Yet another October 31 passed with little external fanfare.

I was out hiking yesterday and I stopped by a pool of water being fed by a tiny trickle of water.  The pool was perfectly still and I could see my reflection.

I looked old…balding, grey hair, a “turkey wattle” under my chin.

In my mind, I could still see my fiancee. She was young.

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Dracaena “Corn Plant”

In August, 1983, when my fiancee was recovering from her surgery, a friend gave her a corn plant.

When she got out of the hospital, she and the plant came to my house and I took care of both of “them”.  When she went to hospice, the plant went with her and I took care of them there.  After she died, I brought the plant home and continued to take care of it.

Recently the plant started to get brown leaves and despite my best efforts, it died.  I hoped it would sprout up from the roots, but it did not, so today I threw it out.

The plant lived for 35 years.  My fiancee lived for 21 years.

…sigh…

Strange Happenings

Thanksgiving Day, my wife and I were preparing the feast for ourselves, our daughter, my mother in-law and several of our daughter’s roommates.

My wife had the radio playing…a real FM broadcast radio…so I know it wasn’t a case of an “internet dossier” being used to target content to me.

The radio station played, in order, Bette Midler’s “The Rose”,  Bread’s “Everything I Own” and  Garth Brooks’  “The Dance”.

 

When my fiancee was in hospice, she wanted to plan her funeral while her mind was still clear–not the usual thing for 21 and 22 year old”kids” to do.  For the music, she wanted each of us to pick a song.  She picked “The Rose”.  I picked “Everything I Own”.    Since it was her funeral, she decided her song should go first.

 

I can’t imagine a radio station playing those songs together and in that order, especially on Thanksgiving Day.  And I know my wife wouldn’t “do” that to me by calling in a request, so I don’t have an explanation.  Maybe there are ghosts.  If so, my fiancee sure did add a fitting third song.

By the way, she died November 24, 1983.  If you look that up on a calendar, it’s Thanksgiving Day.

Book One — The Ending

I’ve said before that my life is like two different  books.  One is finished while the other is still being written.

Normally the first book “sits on the shelf” because I don’t want to dwell on it too much, or make my wife compete with a ghost.

Two days a year, I metaphorically pull book 1 off of the shelf and remember.  The two days I chose seem weird, but they are the ones I chose.

I could have chosen many days; the day we met, any of a huge number of things we did together, meeting her parents, meeting my parents, me asking THE question, her saying YES, our drive across country to meet our extended families, the day of the phone call that brought me the news that cancer was attacking her, the day she died.

But I chose two other days.   October 31 and May 26.

October 31, 1983 was the day her doctor recommended a “new” program called hospice.  My mom was a nurse practitioner and I knew about hospice already.  I just sat there, frozen and barely breathing, knowing that our dreams would never be.

May 26, 1984, was the day we planned for our wedding.  Our wedding was going to be on the beach at sunset and attended by a dozen or so friends and family.  That time and place was chosen because she loved the beach and loved watching the sparkles from the setting sun “dance on the water”.  The day was chosen because it was a holiday weekend.

May 26, 1984, when the sparkles from the setting sun were dancing on the water, I scattered her ashes in the surf.

 

 

More Memories

I’ve written about my cleaning out my mom’s house.  It has not been easy.  Everything in the house is stuff I remember as a child…and I’m having to get rid of a lot of it.  I’m glad this is not my childhood home.

My friends have been wonderful.  They, and their adult children, have taken a lot of the stuff to blend into their own homes.  Like us, they have gotten rid of a lot of really cheap stuff (pressed wood covered with wood grain paper) and replaced it with the oak, maple, cherry wood furniture from my parents’ house.  I consider them family by choice, so this is a perfect way to take care of my “problem”.

Some things are so sentimental that I must get rid of them.

For instance.  In an old military footlocker was a crocheted afghan.  After I recovered from the  shock of finding it, I showed it to my mother in law.  She said it was obvious someone had put their very best effort into it as there was not a thread loose or out of place.  The afghan was crocheted in 1983 by my elderly neighbor as a wedding present for my fiancee and I.  Plans were changed and the afghan went from being a wedding present to being used during my fiancee’s “journey” through hospice care.

 

The other thing I found was a slide photograph taken in April, 1983.  In the image, an old lady is standing and leaning against her walker.  She has her hands outstretched and is putting something into the cupped hands of a young man that is standing in front of her.  The young man has a surprised look on his face.  Standing next to the young man is a young woman that looks like she’s about to cry.

The old woman is my then widowed 95 year old grandmother.  I am the young man and the young woman is my brand new fiancee.

It was Easter Sunday, 1983 and the two of us had invited our parents to Easter dinner so we could tell them of our plans to get married.  When things settled down after our announcement, my grandmother got my attention.

Grandmother.  “She doesn’t have a ring.  She needs a ring.”

Me.  “I know.  She was accepted to medical school and we decided to skip the ring and save the money to pay for tuition.”

Grandmother, removing her wedding and engagement rings from her finger and my grandfather’s wedding ring from her thumb.   “She *NEEDS* a ring.  Here.  You need these more than I do.  Please.  Take them.”

I will keep the slide photograph.  It doesn’t take up much room and can easily be stored in a shoe box with other photographs.  My mother in law is going to take the afghan.  As beautiful as it is, there is no way I could look at it every day….plus I don’t want to make my wife compete with a ghost.

Some people say that is a different chapter in my life. It is really more of a different book.  Book 1 and Book 2.  Book 1 has “The End” written in it and most of the time stays on the shelf.  Book 2 is on the coffee table and is read/written in on a daily basis.

 

I’m Home Again. Again.

I got home last night around 7:30pm.  My family wanted to take me out to eat.  I was tired, but managed to stay awake enough to eat.

This morning, the travel paperwork is done and submitted;  Taxi fare finder, Transportation to Airport Cost Comparison (is being dropped off with its 2 round trips to the airport, driving and parking or taking a taxi cheapest), Hotel Receipts, Checked Bag Receipts, Expense Worksheet.

I’m already back to planning on meals.  I’m doing a pork roast for left overs for making easy meals during the week and I’m looking through a couple of Middle Eastern cookbooks for possible lamb dishes.

Yesterday did not pass unnoticed.  It was Halloween, which is the anniversary of the day my fiancee entered hospice.  At 12:15pm EDT, I stopped for a moment, wondered “what if”, shed a private tear and continued on with my life.

I doubt anyone else noticed.