Monday, October 30, 2023

Empty Shelves

What a difficult and sweet, sad and joyous time it has been. We cleared out the house with the help of friends and family. I never thought I'd see these bookshelves empty of books. And today we moved my fierce and feisty mother into hospice care. I'm glad I got to spend some quiet time with her in the hospital and that I got to see her moved safely into the hands of calm, experienced people who will help my dad through whatever is to come next. 

The full impact of losing my mom--a gradual and imminent process--hit me as I drove down the driveway of my childhood home for the last time. The empty house...was her. 

And this is her, too!

Friday, October 27, 2023

All Around Me

All around me, so much beauty, the fall happening in sunshine and rain. I've been so busy, so preoccupied. I am clearing out my parents' home, giving things away. So many people have helped, and are still helping! My brother and his wife, her brothers with trucks! Now my sister is coming, and her husband, with a truck! Two Men and a Truck came, such hardworking guys! Recycling Furniture for Families. Habitat for Humanity, their Home ReStore. Friends baking cookies for an event Saturday afternoon. Friends helping with moral support and labor. I am so grateful. And the nasturtiums are still blooming!

Meanwhile, I am still working, still editing. The poetry has mostly been set aside, but today I was revising two poems, and that felt good. My printer broke, and ironically these would go to a snail mail publication. But I have let so many deadlines pass during this necessary time of other work. A poem came out, in Border Crossing. Other poems were (kindly) rejected. Again, gratitude.

Other people's fathers are failing, dying. Other people's mothers. The trouble continues in Ukraine, in Gaza, elsewhere. So much suffering continues. Yet my time has felt suspended, even as tasks went on. 

These nasturtiums are hiding under an umbrella of leaves. So am I, maybe.

But I led a board meeting, I met with a banker, I did an all-day work training on mental health in older adults. Met with co-workers to plan a Death Cafe. I am feeding the neighbor's cat. Packing to go help my daughter have a baby! It all somehow gets done.

Meanwhile, the burning bush went red! 

Sunday, October 1, 2023

My Nasturtiums

Sometime in the middle of the summer I planted nasturtiums and marigolds from seed along the fence, and they have been gloriously blooming all September, and now it's October! There's a tiny nasturtium patch blooming under the Little Free Library for Iris Harley, who would be 5 now--next year to be joined by white anemone. Almost everything in my yard is native or perennial or I harvest seeds from one year to plant the next. Chicory and Queen Anne's Lace come on their own.

My friend Ken Kashian, photographer, asked if he could have some leaves and blooms for a photo project. Yes, come over! He did. These are his photos. This one, which reminds me of a ballet dancer, is my new Facebook profile picture. The delicacy and light in these photographs are helping me, sustaining me. September has been a hard month, emotionally. My mother was in the hospital for a week and has now been released to memory care, where we are gradually adorning her room with comfortable, familiar, and beautiful things. Visits are brief. She's doing OK.

My brother and his wife have been here, visiting family and helping me clear out the family home. Heavy lifting! Husband helping, too, and yesterday he transported about a dozen boxes to Books to Benefit. Books, paintings, clothing, kitchen things, pretty things, music, and eventually furniture will all be finding new homes. (Let me know if you need anything! We might have it!) Dusty sorting, nostalgia, family photos...

My father is coping, grieving, raging, and, perhaps, relaxing a bit. Maybe some stress will fall off. Maybe he can make new social patterns. The university archivist took 26 boxes of his papers--teaching materials, publications, plays, drafts, authored books... There is so much more left to sort in the house. I am exhausted in all the ways. But imagine him--his whole life gone, the marriage torn, two frail loving people, near but apart.

Friends, as well as family, are helping in supportive and practical ways. I am so grateful. And a special joy this weekend was our houseguest, fiber artist Pat Kroth, here for the Sugar Creek Arts Festival--and, a nice surprise for her, a double award winner! One of the awards is for art that uses recycled materials. I am happy to say that some of her future art will include a watercolor silk dress from my mom, and some of her skinny jeans!

For the first time in a long time, I reached for my poetry drafting notebook, to capture two lines that came to me suddenly: "Remember the knife / and the tiny spoon." These are a cake knife and a salt spoon, brought home from the farmhouse--the spoon because it is so tiny and charming, the knife in case I bake a cake. But who knows what they will be in the eventual poem? It is assembling itself in fragments. "Will there be a piano?" I don't know where it will go next.