My Dad died one year ago today, just 4 and a half months after my mother passed away very unexpectedly.
I’ve been trying to figure out what is wrong with me lately. My poor, long-suffering husband does that every single day of his life. “Welcome to my world,” he said to our son a few weeks ago.
My son was getting exasperated with me as he was setting up my brand new, super-duper-fast-awesome computer. I didn’t have answers for most of his questions, nor did I understand technological terms he was using. Stuff like “bandwidth” and “ports” and “routers.” Plus, my last backup was done on June 20th. (He checked!) NOT acceptable, according to him. I feel like a new person with this brand new, super-duper-fast, awesome computer that doesn’t make me want to push it to the floor. Now if only I could shake this funk.
I do know that I I am going through an adjustment period. My “new job” after I had quit my “real job” back in 2011 had become taking care of others. I spent a lot of time taking care of my parents and their needs and babysitting grandchildren. And now my parents are gone, and my oldest 2 granddaughters have started preschool. So. I don’t look after other people the way I used to. So I sit at my super-duper-fast computer and work. A lot. I love it. I really do. But it feels weird. My time is my own now.
Like, I can go to places when I want to, not when my parents need something. A few weeks ago I was in Walmart, and almost collapsed to the ground when I thought I saw my mother. For someone who had started moving so slowly, she sure could disappear in a flash. My daughter took her one day and called me desperately from her cell phone. “We are at Walmart and I’ve lost Gram!” “It’s okay sweetie, happens to me every time. Just walk back and forth until you find her. Sometimes she sits on the bench over by the pharmacy.”
Just when I thought I was nearly “cured” from my grief, my primary care physician died in a bicycling accident at the start of the summer. And then, Father’s Day was spent at the funeral of my husband’s brother when he passed away unexpectedly. Suddenly, I was back to bursting into tears again at a moment’s notice. I probably have what one politely refers to as “anxiety.”
I’ve been going to the neighborhood pool this summer. Many times, I have the whole place to myself, so I am free to get in the very center and float on my back and have “Deep Thoughts” like Jack Handey did on Saturday Night Live. I look up to the sky and say “Hi” to my parents. Earlier this year I went to Butterfly World in Florida. “This is what Heaven must be like,” I said to my daughter. I hope so.
I hate this time of year when summer is drawing to a close. It reminds me that winter is just around the corner. While many think of fall as a new beginning and with excitement, I always looked at it with dread. I don’t like cold weather and all of the extra clothes and having to wear real shoes. I love summer. I want (and wanted) it to be summer all the time. Especially when I was a kid. School was out during summer. And school to me was like having to work at a “real” job.
But I realize now, that I have officially come to the end of all the “firsts” since both of my parents deaths in 2015. The first holidays without them, their first birthdays and the first anniversary of their deaths. It didn’t feel like it initally, but I think that, yes, I WILL be okay.
My husband asked me the other day what is wrong. I said I have this awesome person inside, and she can’t come out because I feel overwhelmed. Exactly WHAT I am overwhelmed about, I’m not sure.
He walked over to the pantry and grabbed the tin foil. (He tells everyone when they come to the house that they are welcome to anything we have. EXCEPT the non-stick foil. This is simply not true! It is used for cooking only. NOT to grasp and yank off a 12-foot sheet to wrap some leftovers that no one will eat. Then it sits in the refrigerator until it turns green and unrecognizable.) Anyway, I sat at my desk and watched him carefully, as he tore off a sheet and covered a pan he was about to use to heat some frozen shrimp in the oven. I sighed with relief. “I thought you were about to make me a tin-foil hat.” “No, I think the voices would get through it anyway,” he said.
Some days I feel as I am going deaf and contemplate getting a hearing test. Other days I’m jumping out of my skin thinking someone is next to me, or that I hear sounds coming from an unknown direction. “Did you say something?” I ask my husband. And he says, “That wasn’t me Kim. And please note that we are the only two here.”
I’ve been doing some cleaning and organizing around the house this this summer. I am getting a lot of things done that had been pushed to the side for various reasons. Cleaning my car became a two-day project because of my bad back and a blistering heatwave. “You can tell the paramedics that I took an aspirin shortly before 4 pm,” I breathlessly told my husband, as I collapsed from heat exhaustion and back spasms into the recliner. “From now on,” he said, “I want you to do this: When you get up every day hit 9 on your cellphone, then after lunch, hit 1…”
I‘ve also spent part of the summer catching up on some shows I’ve always wanted to watch. It’s such an escape for me. I became obsessed with Call The Midwife. The series starts in 1957 in London, around the time my parents met in England. I also watched the entire series of Mad Men. This was super entertaining to me, as it was set in the 1960’s, so it reminded me of my childhood. My husband says I want to live in the past. True. I’ve always wanted to live in Mayberry. But they didn’t have super-duper-fast computers. I’d be lost without mine. Andy would tell me to quit wallerin’ now, and head back to MomsOffice.
“Cruel Summer” by Bananarama
– Listen to it here
Hot summer streets
And the pavements are burning
I sit around
Trying to smile
But the air is so heavy and dry
Strange voices are saying
What did they say?
Things I can’t understand
It’s too close for comfort
This heat has got right out of hand
It’s a cruel, cruel summer
Leaving me here on my own
It’s a cruel, cruel summer
Now you’re gone