The Days of Wine and Roses

memories, photo album. 1950s familyI’m on my way to see my mom this weekend, and taking little with me except some old albums.

When I visit her in late summer, she seems so less of what she used to be. Because of dementia, she can’t remember what I told her five minutes earlier, like “your clean clothes are in the drawer” or “dinner is in 45 minutes.”

 Seconds after the conversation, my once bright, quick mom asks: “where are my clean socks?” and then “isn’t it time to walk down to the dining room?” Continue reading

You Fill Up My Senses

dawn, sunshineI drove seven hours last weekend with John Denver.

Well, kind of.

At 4 a.m. on Saturday, my daughter, 7-year-old granddaughter,  and I hit the turnpike to drive from Boston to Delaware to visit my ailing mom.

Before we left the driveway, the 7-year-old was back asleep and stayed that way for almost three hours.

As I drove in the blackness of too-early morn, my daughter and I conversed quietly in the front seat. The dark shapes of homes and trees – then the lit-up highway signs and speeding cars and trucks – passed by like shadowy strangers.

We reminisced about her Nanny – my mom – whose strong feisty personality is dimming. We laughed softly as we shared a story or two of Nanny’s powerful presence in our lives, and then my daughter slowly, slowly, drifted off to her own dreams.

I was alone, then, in the quiet swiftly moving car, and I reached out for some music, something to fill the space of memories and sadness.John Denver, John Denver Tribute Album Continue reading

What I Didn’t Do on My Summer Vacation

What did you NOT do this year on your summer vacation?

Mid-August this year, I reflected on last year at the same time. Even more, I focused on what I wasn’t doing this year.  I did not drive cross country, steering away from a settled 10-year-home in Boston to a bayside town on the other side of the country. No desperate packing of ‘must haves’ after the even more difficult job of getting rid of so many items – furniture, rugs, books, antiques, hard-object memories that I simply didn’t have room to keep in our downsized near future.

Not wanting to release negative energy, I learned a year ago how to say goodbye with a smile: goodbye to the stiff old chair my father’s sister bought in the1950s; goodbye to the piles of notebooks that journaled my life for the past 15 years; goodbye to the rug that son Sean stained when he dropped the bowl of blueberry buckle; goodbye to the crib that Sophie, our first granddaughter, climbed out of when she was 10 months old; goodbye to the double bed with cherry headboard that once gave sleepy shelter to my 80-year-old mother and 16-year-old niece, together, during a stormy Thanksgiving night. Mom claimed that Stephanie kicked her for 8 long hours; Stephanie moaned that her Nanny snored louder than the wind.

But memories stay with us, even if the objects don’t. So what I didn’t do on August 8 this year, was push the essentials into our 1 car – essentials like 2 suitcases, 1 work computer, and 1 large golden retriever with water bowl and blankie, and drive with my 1 essential husband out of the town we’d called home for 10 incredible years.

The town didn’t want to give us up. We’d understood that scary fact last August as roadblock after roadblock – literal and figurative – appeared. Organizations that promised to collect our valued goods – mattresses, headboards, tables and chairs – would call 15 minutes before pick up and say, ‘never mind.’ Friends who promised to take care of cherished plants changed their minds minutes before taking them home, crying “but what if Benji dies in my care – you’ll never forgive me.” Our one essential car broke down a week before takeoff, some rare car part gave out that perhaps my husband understood but I never did.

And then, on the day we were to depart, the car wouldn’t start. At all. New battery dead. In the driveway at 7:15 on a hot humid summer morning, where all was packed, dog settled in back seat, exhales allowed, the car said NO.

We did, somehow, coax it to begin again, but then, driving down Monument Street, the curving road lined with oaks and pine and cherry, stone walls and big solid brick houses, a behemoth streaked across the road, huge and feathered, looking
like a monster from another world. Husband hit the brake hard, and our getaway car shuttered to a stop. The monster stopped too and turned to stare us down. A wild turkey, with dark bottomless eyes that seemed to say, “I dare you leave
this place.”

Husband, never one for hyperbole or mysticism, whispered, “do you think it’s going to let us go?”

“The turkey?” I whispered back.

 “No, the town,” he said louder as he tapped the accelerator. The car lurched forward, our released sighs helping it along, and we finally, finally, drove on toward our future to the other side.