Birth, Death, Joy, Grief (43)
Dec 20, 2020
Birth, Death, Joy, Grief (43)
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future
To a known God”
Corrie ten Bloom
My wife of almost 59 years (59 years on June 10, 2020) and best friend Eileen had been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the esophagus, in February 2019. Eileen died on February 22, 2020, the day following the birth of our latest granddaughter, Maria; 60 years to the day after we met; the funeral was March 4, 2020, and the burial was July 3, 2020. Then my brother Tom began having serious health problems, and I spent two three-week sessions with him this summer. But Tom died in October; combined with the COVID pandemic this has created a very challenging year. This blog gives my thoughts, fears, prayers, and hopes during this challenging and difficult time looking at the spaces in my life.
12/20.2020 This has been the week of snow: a record 42 inches fell on Wednesday-Thursday. A new modern record. It wasn’t until Friday evening that I was dug out by a backhoe; there is this mountain of snow in my yard. They had predicted 12-18 inches at most; but the peculiarity of the weather flow in this area deemed something different. The peculiar geology of this area marks this area as a major demarcation of weather for the northeast. A major weather station is at the Binghamton airport for that reason. Usually the bad weather straddles this area; but this time it centered directly over this area. Just a few miles away in all directions it was considerably less intense. Luckily, I have plenty of frozen foods in the house so I could go for some time; running out of fresh fruit and bread, but that is not bad.
This is more snow than we had for the past 3-4 years combined. That is part of what makes life exciting. Yes, I can still chatter to Eileen about this and be happy with the response – emotional feeling, but happy. I have talked to my invisible friends most of my life; even as a four-year-old my only friends in the country were my imaginary friends, as there was no one my age in the vicinity, and I spent most of the day wandering the farm fields and woods in the area. That was how God and I became such good friends; lots of chatter about everything I saw, much of it audible, but most time in my head. I have maintained that loose but every-day-friend relationship with God ever since. I have just transferred that type of easy friendship to my partner of 60 years now that I can no longer see and talk with her in person.
My cookies that I was working on came out well. I iced them all, using red-green-blue coloring along with the white. Fun doing that, bring back many wonderful memories from my childhood through parenting to now. And they taste divine! I pop one in my mouth after each meal; ok, maybe two.
One of my granddaughters has tested positive for COVID, on Saturday afternoon. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, a hot spot for the virus. She works at a pet store and oversees feeding the pets and cleaning up. She said that is an advantage, as she has lost her sense of smell. One of the owners of the store had tested positive, so she was in quarantine and was tested. So far the loss of smell and taste is the only issue. She is a strong and healthy girl, so we can hope for the best.
My mailbox was destroyed by a plow – don’t know if the town or my plow. The box is a large one, mounted on a 4×4 cemented in the ground. The box itself is gone, somewhere under the snow, and the post is tilted, and the mounting platform is bent. I bought a new mailbox, and we will see on Monday if we can repair things and get the new box mounted. My handyman will look at the mailbox, and at the snow on the house roof and see how to pull it down – I may have to get the front-loader back to clean up the mess. I have one of these long-handled roof rakes that I normally use, but this 3–4-foot pile is just too large for that. It may take someone to climb up there and shovel it off. My son Tim came out with one of his sons and shoveled off the front porch and cleaned up some of the edges, and they discovered that the mailbox was missing.
I had a haircut appointment on Saturday across town and drove through the main shopping areas. Bumper to bumper traffic. I had planned to go grocery shopping but decided not as it would be crowded, but I id stop for the mailbox. I can wait a day or two without my daily banana. The plazas were jammed, and I shudder at the potential virus implications.
We have been lucky that up to now the virus has not been that serious, even though there was a warning spot in the vicinity – it started at a bar that had a large crowd for several days before being shut down. Unmasked of course. But I was still amazed how many people were ignoring the virus and doing their normal Christmas shopping.
Ordinary things this week. But the loneliness was present. I try to call at least one friend a day to wish them merry Christmas and to chat, and that has helped. Having Tim and Haden here today was nice, (they stepped in, to warm-up (it was 10 degrees) and have a cookie or two, masked of course).
The young lady that cuts my hair had lived with us during her senior year in high school, graduating with our daughter Janet. Good to chat with friends. Christmas music helps. Keeping busy helps.
God is good to me – warm house, good friends, cheerful music, beauty, lots to do, children joining in for a few days – that is what love is all about. Funny stories help, as I read light and Christmassy type things at this time. I will solute Christmas with a shot or two of apricot brandy in honor of my Great Aunt Mary, who lived in our house for 30 years. Her birthday is Christmas; she would be 145 years old this year. After Midnight Mass my parents would throw a big party, inviting all their single friends in for the party that would last all night, opening presents somewhere about 4 am. The highlight of the night was Aunt Mary who would have a shot or two of apricot brandy, then would stand up and gravely bend over and touch her toes, even at 90 I was told (I was gone and married at that time). That was the time to open presents. (Most would stay and find someplace to crash for a few hours.) So I solute her at this time. Aunt Mary was in charge of me when Mom worked, and we would occasionally walk a mile or so to go fishing in the river. Fond memories. She died at the usual family time of 94 years (both my parents were 94 when they died, eight years apart). She said many a rosary for me, in her family rocking chair, which I have here, that came from Germany in 1845.
Oh Gentle One, You have blessed me with wonderful memories and loving friends and family. And most of all, You blessed me with 60 years with the most delightful and truly beautiful person I have ever met. I can smile at all the wonderful memories that filled our house, laughter and smiles. And beauty, always beauty. Your presence was always vibrantly felt, and I am grateful for all the Love that filled this house. Thank You, from the bottom of my being.