The Cemetery

The cancer, I was told, was as rare as teeth on a chicken. When discovered, Patricia was told she would not have more than six months of life left to her. I hadn’t heard from her in 25 years, and we were best friends. It was Mothers Day evening when Doug emailed me.
“I wanted to let you know that Patricia is not expected to make it through the night.”
“What?” I screamed at the email bringing me down from a beautiful day with my family. What was he saying to me, and why did he wait 25 years to contact me? He knew I loved her, was a sister to her, and missed her deeply. Or, maybe he didn’t. She had “moods”, real highs and very low lows. Maybe she never told him she’d shut me out.
“I know she can hear you.” I replied to his emai. “Hold her close and whisper into her ear that I love her very much. I always have and I always will.” Then I started to cry.
My husband looked over at me from the TV program we were watching.
“What’s wrong?”
“Patricia is dying.”
His reaction was the same as mine was.

Patricia and I grew up together, went to school together and lived with each other off and on for many years prior to our adulthood. She was in my wedding: I was not invited to hers. But for the first twenty years of marriage we got together quite often with our families. I ignored her moods, knowing she always contacted me once they passed. Sometimes that meant a month, sometimes it meant a year. But she always called me. After all, we were best friends.

We kept in constant email contact with Doug in that first year after her death, renewing our friendship, sharing family photos and telling so many stories of our lives not shared together. Email was easy, no face to face, no seeing each other’s pain, and not hearing the grief in our voices, but feeling that in black words on white background.
So after a year we took the two day drive from our house to the island up north where Doug and Patricia lived, and the house they had built there.

Patricia worked with the contractor, getting everything exactly the way she wanted it. That was seven years earlier, when they’d retired and life couldn’t have been happier for them.
And now we were going to meet again, for the first time. I told my husband I was afraid I was going to cry when I saw Doug.
“Don’t worry about it. I’m sure he’s going to do the same when he sees us.” And that’s how it went. Doug and I held each other and cried, and cried.

Their son Brandon was with him, he was just ten years old last time I saw them at our house. He looked like his mother, reddish-blond hair and gentle features. I held him and cried some more.
“Do you remember me, Honey?”
“Of course I do, Auntie Mona. I could never forget you.” We stared at each other’s faces for a long time. “You look a lot like your mom.”
“Yes, that’s what I’m told.” We smiled and hugged again.
Once settled in, Doug showed us around their beautiful home and spectacular yard overlooking the serene lake below. I knew the house would be beautiful, she had great taste in minimalism. Everything was exactly right, in the right place and made for the spot it was in. But I never knew she had such talent in the yard. She had researched and designed the gardens herself. And together they did everything from pulling out hundreds of wild berry plants, to moving rocks, building paths, and planting many trees, shrubs and flowers. I was amazed, and proud of her, but mostly saddened by the fact that she wasn’t the one sharing this with me. I began to cry, again.
“I never knew this about her.” I sobbed. “She was amazing.” Doug just nodded.

“She wanted a totally green burial, too.”

“She wanted to become one with the earth. She’s buried in her favorite garden clothes: denim overalls and shirt, Crock garden shoes, and a big floppy hat. That was her uniform when working in the yard. They were worn, ragged and she loved them more than any outfit she owned.” There was a slight smile on his face remembering her this way.
Patricia was brave, courageous, strong, fearless and full of fight, even though she knew the outcome and end were near. She kept a big binder of everything Doug needed to know about running the house, caring for the cat, doing laundry, when to feed and prune each part of the garden. The binder had absolutely everything he’d need to know about everything little thing she did. She was well organized, and he was about to be.
Patricia wrote her obituary which was printed in the local paper: a wonderful farewell to her family and grateful thanks to the hospice group and the doctors in charge of her care. She’d chosen a clear pine box to be buried in and the site was next to trees and close to the side of the road.
I asked to see her grave site during one of the many island tours Doug had taken us on. The cemetery was lush and green, rugged and remote and one of the most beautiful spots on the island we’d seen. All the grave sites were naturally grassy with random flowers and shrubs everywhere. Flowering pots plants dotted hidden graves, worn paths led to the various grave sites, and the sun tried to peek through the morning fog. It was beautiful.

Doug had placed a simple brass marker at her site. Dark green ferns were mixed with in the bushes. And all around her were incredible tall trees with long, arm-like branches that seemed to be reaching all the way to Heaven. I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful resting place for the best friend I’d never known.

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Seven Days of Amazon

I think God created Amazon so I wouldn’t have to leave the house on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. I shopped Amazon on line. 

And when He saw I was pleased, He decided it was good, so God created Cyber Monday. Again I shopped on line.  

And when He caught on that I had no intention of going shopping for anything other than food because it was only 30degrees outside, He decreed that both days should be extended to week long events.

I continued to shop on line, and He saw it was good.

When the UPS man came to my house and delivered 13 boxes at one time, even though He understood the man’s job was safe with me and I was helping run the U.S. economy, He cancelled my Visa card, and saw that it was good.

Amazon sent an email asking if I wanted to apply future purchases to my Discover card. 

October Madness

Do you get many goblins at your door, do you run out of candy, do you keep a reserve hidden in your underwear drawer?I don’t get any goblins anymore, the neighborhood has changed somewhat. So I never run out of candy and my underwear drawer has also somewhat changed.

No more Bunny Suit for me, if you remembered that one.

Here’s my new Halloween fun: I do wine parings with the handy little individually wrapped varieties of Halloween candy.

I have found that a robust red goes well with dark chocolate, a clean crisp Pinot Grigio is fun with candy corn, a Boudreaux is fantastic with York Peppermint Patties, Pinot Noir with Snickers will knock your socks off, AND all candy is best served with a manhattan, but mostly M&M peanut candies.

I’ll do all of this on one very scary night (tonight) and if I’m lucky I’ll be in a wine induced chocolate coma until sometime after this damn election.

(I vote by mail, in case you’re wondering)

From Where I Lay

Swollen, tired feet; hot, humid air; long day; rest sorely needed.

Sweat glistens my body.

In my hand, a cold beverage of choice: Maker’s Mark on the rocks.

The sun will drop below the horizon soon.

I can only hear the waves slap against the starboard side.

All I can see is the ocean. All I want to see is the ocean.

I drift peacefully.

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No Problem!

My husband and I went out to dinner the other night and we left our car with the restaurant valet service. “Thanks” we said after handing over our car keys to the pimpled faced kid.

“No Problem,” he replied.

“Reservations for Dawson,” we said to the maître’d once in the darkened lobby.

“Ah, here you are,” He noted and checked us off his list. “I’ll have the hostess seat you in a moment.”

“Thanks!” we chimed in.

“No problem,” he replied.

Once shown to our table and I noticed the beautiful surroundings, I was pleased we were finally dining here. I was helped with my chair, I sat down, we were advised of the name of the person who would be our server, and then we thanked the lovely hostess.

“No problem,” she replied.

Water was poured, warm bread and whipped butter were brought to the table, we were handed menus, and the evening specials were delightfully announced from memory. We expressed our thanks to the server who said he’d give us a moment to make our choice, then noted he would return with our drinks. …thanks again and no problem replied all around.

Wait, what problem? When exactly when did no problem become an acceptable response to thank you? What happened to You’re Welcome? Why would anyone think the job they are getting paid for is a problem for the customer? I’m here for a special service, not to cause anyone any trouble. If I thought there was going to be a problem I wouldn’t be there! I wouldn’t patronize any place or service where my being there was going to be a problem for anyone.

So in other words, am I being told that right now that I’m not a problem, but I could have been, or may become one sometime soon? Was there a memo on this that I missed?

I could understand someone holding a door for me that I may not have been moving fast enough to get through at the same time they were. So that person may have waited a few seconds for me to catch up. And when I breathlessly thanked them an acceptable answer could have been No Problem, but a You’re Welcome would do the job nicely as well. I’m able to understand when someone goes out of their way to be helpful, especially if I’m feeling like I may have put them out a bit. I’m observant that way. But they’re letting me know it really wasn’t a problem for them to wait and hold the door, they were being kind, and that makes sense to me.

But replying to my thank you for complementary bread and water served with a No Problem, tells me they went out of their way to do their job, just for me. Perhaps they had to travel far and wide for the water. Or it was up high on a shelf and they needed aid in bringing it down; maybe it under lock and key. Better yet, could this have been special water?

What’s the protocol here? Does a Thank You now require the advice that someone just went out of their way for your service? That you may have in some way put them in some type of jeopardy or a position that might have put them in harm’s way?

What happened to You’re Welcome, is that no longer an acceptable, polite response?

But wait, he escaped unharmed and the water was served without incident.

So, No Problem!

Point of View

A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.

Today’s twist: write the scene from three different points of view: from the perspective of the man, then the woman, and finally the old woman.

In Their Own World

Richard smiled to himself as he felt the warmth of her soft hand in his, he squeezed it a little tighter. It’s been a long road both emotionally and physically for them and things are starting to look a little better. Jane has begun to come around again. She’s more open, more giving, and more loving. Although still silent most of the time, he can tell when she does speak that her mood is upbeat. All the doctors said it would take time. The accident was bad, but the recovery has been much worse. They’re hoping she will regain the rest of her memory soon. But not him, because then she’ll remember what they really lost.

It’s a cool fall day in the park and as they walk they came across a old woman on a bench, she’s wrapped warn as if it’s the dead of winter. As they approach the woman lifts the blanket to expose a tiny red sweater she’s been knitting, all the while trying to keep her frail hands warm under the blanket.

Richard froze in the spot. Their baby was wearing a small red sweater similar to this one on that day. His heart took a plunge and he couldn’t catch his breath for a second. It hurt so much to recall his sweet little face and that voice that was starting to say “Dahdah”, tears came to him quickly, as usual. Would she notice, could this be the memory trigger she needed? He hoped not but he worried she’d never be the same woman he married. He moved quickly to guild her past the old woman who was now smiling at them.

Jane wished he wouldn’t hold her hand so much, did he think she’d get lost and not be able to find her way out of the park? Why did he insist on babying her so? She was no child, she used to walk in the park all the time, although not alone. Everyone needed to let her be. The closeness felt consuming, smothering. And these doctors, what did they think she was supposed to accomplish in such a short time. He was a stranger when she woke, but now she knows who he is, just not what he wants. She feared she’d never figure out how to please him, or how to pleases herself for that matter. Oh well, life does go on she reassured herself, knowing that something important was missing. At least her parents knew she was doing fine, thank God for them, she smiled. Oh, look, now there’s an optimistic woman! At her age she still believes she can still prepare for a child. You go girl, she nodded and smiled back at the old woman.

Sitting on this bench makes my butt numb the old woman mumbled to herself. If I had proper heating I could stay indoors, but no..I have to come here and look for a few rays of sun. She was working on yet another sweater. At least this time she was given red yarn; blue and pink were so boring. She’d made this particular style so many times she needed no pattern. And even thought her fingers were old and arthritic she could still knit with skilled speed. Most women in the home who could knit were given projects for the women’s shelter, but how many baby sweaters were needed? Couldn’t she help in other ways? This was getting out of hand. Charity work was something she’d always been involved in but she needed something else to focus on now. But understanding and accepting life’s limitations age had brought to her, sitting and knitting was what she had to settle for. Not happy at the “retirement” home she was currently living in, she was continually bored. But she always managed to get outside without any supervision. Where were her own children and why did no one visit  any longer? Was almost always on her mind. Oh! here’s a nice young couple, maybe they would stop and visit a while. Smiling at their young faces, she recognized the woman as she walked here often, but today she was with a different man. She knew at once that they would not be the ones to stop and visit. Not today anyway.