|Gooseberry bushes..approach with caution.|
Grief is also like the ocean, which is a slightly tired metaphor until YOU live it. You’re standing there with your toes in the water, you finally feel like you can breathe deeply again, and wham…a huge wave comes barreling in and sweeps you into a giant hole (they’ve probably dug for a new gaudy tourist hotel). This happens less frequently as you learn where to stand, but it goes on indefinitely.
Yeah, it’s like that. Like the other day, I was in Walmart when I got a text saying “Lois [my mom], it’s time to refill your prescription for…” (I managed Mom’s meds for the past year or more). There I was in the toothpaste aisle, digging for Kleenex and pretending I had something in my eye.
Grief can be good, too. I think it helps cement memories. For example, a couple days ago I was organizing Mom’s closet when I came across a white wig. Suddenly, I was transported back to a Halloween prank many, many eons ago, when Mom and I dressed up as her then-husband and Irish bartender Mike, went to the hotel bar where he worked, sat at the bar, and ordered his usual drink. We each wore black dress pants, a white shirt with a pack of Lucky’s in the front pocket, a black tie, a white wig, and black glasses. Mike stood dumbfounded behind the bar, wearing the exact same outfit. Priceless. There I was in the closet, holding the wig and laughing my arse off.
Ray and I are moving slowly but steadily ahead here at the Row. For the first time, we’re intentionally navigating this dual retirement thing. I’ve been going through Mom’s stuff, making little boxes of mementos for all the grandkids. Ray started sorting out our basement freezers, got a bee in his bonnet, and we’ve been working on gooseberry syrup and jam for two days now. Ray’s playing drums with his long-time band pals for the Friday happy hour service at Our Lady of Little Town Cabernet watering hole every week, and he has a few other gigs coming up. I’ve done a couple of poetry readings and have been writing again. I’ll go to our annual Women Poets Collective manuscript workshop retreat and reading later this summer. We’re finding our way.
|That dark stuff? That's gold (gooseberry jam).|
Next week, though, I leave for my hometown Big City to visit my Dad, who’s in the hospital while he waits for a room at a hospice facility, because, as my granny always said, “There’s no rest for the wicked.” And one of the many lessons I’ve learned since the whole Covid/Mom/Retirement epoch started, is that if you’re waiting around for those “golden years,” or for that time when all the bumps will iron themselves out and life will be all cupcakes and Doritos from then on, you’re going to be waiting a long, long time. Like forever.