Sunday, October 22, 2017

Next Phase

Sometimes I can just feel myself at the sink in my new kitchen in some suburb looking out a window into a green yard. I see myself sitting on a deck where I can feed and watch the birds away from the sirens and funeral home deliveries. When I walk with our students on the city streets, the garbage swirling everywhere offends me and then I come upon a little patch of brick sidewalk and think of Frenchtown or Lambertville; places I wanted to live in my younger days. I’ve always preferred the city up until now. I feel safer in a diverse place. I like walking even though I hardly do it with the soccer and the bus drop off time. Usually I’m exhausted after waking at 5:00 AM, getting my grandson to the bus stop and myself to work, picking him up, making dinner, taking him to soccer practice twice a week and the games on Saturdays. I am sure, now, that I want to move. The house is too big for us. We barely use the first floor. It’s a lot to clean. I need a change. But where to go from here?

I realized a little while ago that once Medicare kicks in I’ll be freer than I’ve ever been to go wherever I want to. I have the pension and Social Security and I can get a job somewhere, especially if I get my license. I can go wherever I want to go. I have to consider Eddie, though so it probably won’t be too far. Still, the feeling of freedom is nice. As long as I don’t get sick, I’ll be fine. As long as… Always a worry. Always a worry.

I could use a few years without worrying about things. That would be nice. This move will be my last so it has to be the right one. I don’t want to disrupt Eddie’s life so I want him to stay at the same school. Thank goodness it’s a charter school so I can be in any neighborhood in almost any town in the area. Arts are a big thing in the Lehigh Valley. The Arts Academy is good for him.

I’m trying to dream about where to go next. I found a nice area in Palmer/Easton. It’s about 20 minutes closer to New Jersey. It’s only one exit over the border on both 22 and 78. Taxes are reasonable. Houses were built in the 60’s so they have hardwood floors. Yards are a good size. I don’t hear traffic. I’m just not sure about the suburbs. I’d like to see more of nature. A lake or something. We’ll see. We’ll see.I see myself at the sink, in the kitchen, but I don't see myself in a neighborhood, in a particular town.

There's so much to do, too. Thirteen glass carboys, oil lamps, tools, wine making supplies, books, the remnants of a life to dispose of. It's a big job. Then I have to paint and clean and install a new fence and kitchen appliances. It's a little overwhelming. Lately I've been in a creative phase and am making retro inspired jewelry for my Etsy shop. You have to work while you are inspired. When it comes, you have to take advantage of it. That's all for now. Up to the bead room to create.

Thursday, July 27, 2017


What can you learn from my recycling bin?
The crushed cans of flavored seltzer, 
an empty cardboard box that held Vervain eau du toilette,
an occasional bottle of vodka, lots of Gatorade and yogurt containers,
Saturday and Sunday newspapers, still folded and unread.

Can you tell that my heart has been ripped from my body along with half of my memories?
Can you tell that all I see before me is an ocean of loneliness with no land in sight? 

My husband is dead.
The memory of all he was swirls around me.
It lives in the spices in my cabinets,
In the plates and cups,
In the teapots on their shelf
In the library books and the wood that holds them.
The wood he cut and planed and stained.
In the half empty bed, one side never unmade
Like Tally's sandcastle in the Ray Bradbury story. 
But my husband is not caught in the weeds of a summer lake.
He is gone. 
His ashes sit in an urn on my work table waiting to be incorporated into stones that we will wear around our necks/
A stone to grasp.
A stone to fondle.
A stone to be warmed by our living bodies that have no choice but to go on without him. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017


I don't usually park in back of the daycare center, but the few spaces in front were full so I drove around to the parking lot. The view past the chain link fence and the playground is of the south side of the city where we lived when we first moved to Pennsylvania. The mountains in the distance were softened by fog. It was humid, but there was a breeze and some sun after days of rain. The birds were singing. It was Friday. I was feeling happy and then as usual, I began to list the possible disasters that could befall me this weekend. I thought of two: 1. something could happen to the house in the Poconos since I had to turn off one of the circuit breakers to the baseboard heat due to over heating. 2. Something could happen to my daughter who is a heroin addict in and out of treatment for the last seven years. I had turned off the circuit breaker to the offending unit and turned the heat down to 50 degrees, so I was not particularly bothered by the house issue. It has been warm all week so not much heat would be needed. I know who I can call to fix it when I am up there next. There is nothing I can do that I haven't tried before to help my daughter who will be 40 on her next birthday. I'll keep trying when I can, when I see her, but for now there is nothing I can do. So I dropped my grandson off at daycare and went to work happy that it was Friday and it was sunny and warm and I had the weekend before me.I realized that my anxiety level has decreased significantly since my husband died. The daily worry about him falling, or getting cancer again or just waiting, waiting for that day to come when it would end is gone. The worst thing that could happen has already happened. The worst thing that could happen has already happened. The chores that I have set for myself-the painting and cleaning and de-cluttering and rearranging-will pull me through the next months and maybe over a year as I prepare to live the rest of my life without him after 42 years. The worst thing that could happen has already happened.

Sunday, April 02, 2017


Cleaned up the back garden today. It's a small yard with just two strips of dirt on either side of a concrete slab. The terracotta tile stenciling is fading. I cut down the dead plants and sawed off the branches of the nuisance Rose of Sharon that is growing between the raised bed and the neighbors fence. I was getting annoyed trying to pull out the deep roots of the bronze fennel that is taking over my little gardening space. I turned to look at the back door and suddenly I started crying. He will not come to that door anymore to see what I'm doing and then go back in to fetch the correct tool for the job or a cold drink urging me to take a break. I don't know if I can live here anymore, facing season after season of the same place without him. I cleaned off his desk yesterday and found so many things: little Soviet clock in a box; our late dog, Sandy's picture ID with the note I wrote for him to give to the vet with her symptoms and the bill for the euthanasia and cremation that he had to face alone since we had no warning that she was so ill; cancelled checks for our rent on Vine St and for Orchard Park Nursery School; the credit card bill for the tile we bought in Union for the living room in our first house on Moravian. I thought as I made each room my own by moving things and storing things and painting things, I might be able to handle it. I moved my things into the top drawer of the bathroom vanity, but I keep going for the bottom drawer, still. We lived here for 17 of our 42 years together. I don't know if I can stay. I am dreading next Christmas already. It's been 15 weeks since he died and the knowledge that I will never see him again is becoming more and more real.