Monthly Archives: March 2011

For reals



Mother Dear, I know you and Dad discussed his getting remarried, most likely numerous times, some in jest and some in heartbreaking seriousness. But did you ever really picture the logistics of it? Did you offer advice regarding timing, the arrangement of personal property, how to deal with us girls?

Knowing Dad, did you ever picture his bringing up the idea one day while chatting on the phone, only to have him call back five days later, to let us know he’d proposed and been accepted? Possibly hoping the din of a noisy background would hamper any emotional interference gushing from our end of the phone receiver?

He sounded so happy when he mentioned it. I repeated “Congratulations, congratulations” and meant it, but in the three days since then I feel like I’ve lost you all over again, I’ve lost Dad, and I’ve gotten a very well-meaning chain-letter type email from a lady whom my daughter will most likely call “Grandma” that has made me avoid my email inbox althogether.

Issue: If you were to call me up on the phone today I would not be in the least bit surprised, pausing only at your “hello” to thank heavens this has all just been a bad dream.

Issue: I love my dad. I am sincerely very happy for him and want him to be happy and secure and able to enjoy himself completely. I am trying so very hard to not devolve into “what about us?” Most of me wants to run away from the entire situation. I don’t want to talk to him. I am dreading seeing him and his fiancee next month for Kelly’s graduation–I seriously worry I am going to be reduced to old behavior of uncontrollable sustained crying in the backseat of a rented car for the 3-hour trip to Laramie from the airport.

Issue: me and my crappy insurance can’t afford therapy. I’m still mad you didn’t leave me a letter.

Beginning of Spring

Last night the sun was still out after I got home, and we got to wander around the backyard while your dad made dinner. The cat strolled alongside you as you made a beeline from the gnomes to the planter boxes to the chickens on the other side of the fence. At first I walked with you to make sure you didn’t fall or eat rocks, but then I realized I could sit and watch you. You explored unself-consciously, stopping only every once in a while to point emphatically at something you wanted me to see or checking my reaction to your splashing at the water that had collected in the wheelbarrow.

You are such a delight, Maribel.

Also, I thought I caught you standing in my living room while Mari and I were dancing last night.

For some reason it is very important that Mom’s hot curlers remain in the closet of her house, that the stack of afghans and quilts lay undisturbed and her birdhouses stay in the trees in the backyard.

While cleaning up the backyard for Mom’s memorial the week after she died, it was very important to me that her gardening clogs remain by the back door. They looked smaller than I remembered and still had old mud caked on the bottoms, their toes facing out toward the viburnum so that she could quickly step into them and get to work, even though she hadn’t been able to garden in almost a year and hadn’t been able to stand on her own in at least 6 months. Dad wanted me to throw them away, thinking our guests milling around the backyard wouldn’t appreciate it. I won, and every time I walked in and out of the back door that day I made a note of them. I don’t know how long they lasted out there–Dad most likely threw them away shortly after I left.

I haven’t been back to my parents’ house since the summer after Mom died, 2009. I have been dreading seeing more of my mom taken away. He’s warned me a few times–some of her knick knacks are gone (oddly Dad doesn’t see the beauty in ceramic chickens and rabbits?); he’s changed some of the paintings.

Last night we were on the phone, talking for much longer than we have in almost a year, and it was so much like what it used to be like with him, before my mom got sick. We talked about weather and investing and whales with names. Japan and nuclear power and Maribel and my job. And then his voice changed completely and he sputtered he would most likely be asking B “to share his life with him” soon. And it was like we were both plunged underwater, gasping and muttering phrases. “I want you to be happy” and “we have a lot in common” and “we support you, Dad” and “she takes care of me.” Stop start stop start awkward pause. Pause. Pause. I tried very hard to be encouraging and let him know it’s fine, and I felt sad about how much he felt the need to defend his decision, echoing some advice I gave a while back about not rushing into things.

I am okay with it. I just don’t understand how these things work. If B moves in, where does my mom go? Today is my parents’ wedding anniversary. Does my dad begin the process of disregarding it? Will he still bring flowers from Mom’s garden to her headstone? Does he keep the photo albums with Mom in them? Where do her curlers go? Where do her cookbooks go?

When we bought our house, one of my plans for the backyard was to designate a memorial garden with a benchseat and some of Mom’s birdhouses. I secretly want to haul up all her things and bury them there. Hot curlers. Tea towels. Ceramic chickens. Cookbooks.