My favorite quote of Anne’s has to do with the story of her brother learning the 50 states and birds. He said to the family: “how can I learn 50 states and all the things the teacher has asked me to do.”Her father pointedout to him “of course, you can’t do 50 at once.” “You do them“bird by bird.”
It is interesting to me how a parent says a phrase or a statement to a child and it sticks.
One of my father’s which was similar: “Dad, how do you plant tomatoes?” “One at
a time” he replied. “A tomato needs an exact planting. A hole is dug, the water
is poured into the soil, the plant is dropped into the hole and can immediately
suck up some water and then the dirt needs to be heaped exactly around the stem
to give it support but not so tightly that it will break. The plants are placed at
a certain pace; you have to imagine putting the sticks in later. As summer comes
on and the fruit becomes ripe, you will need the stick and the rope to keep the
tomatoes high and off the ground. A rotten tomato is a tomato on the ground.”
This is my motto for the now of my life.
There is paint stuck to the patio door and it needs cleaning
and scraping. I write because I made a plan to get to my goal of being published. The paint job was a very good one; not spotless. If it were truly great, I would not be sitting here:
“counting birds.” I would be back to clearing up the paint messiness. And, the writing would not have occurred.
Each time I write, I find a small breath of release. A sign escapes through my pale pink lips. For the moment,
I am not a worried mother of a woman with a high risk pregnancy, nor a widow and my dog is not disabled.
I play with words, trying to remember all I have been
learning and reading.
I started with re-reading Flannery O”Connor this week. To me, her stories
are explanations for how we pick and choose our values and then live those decisions out by our life-style.
Having an excellent text before me; I am inner-driven to put
these words on paper. I have placed pad and pen by the
bed and near my desk. When I like a catchy phrase or get
a new thought like “grandmothers don’t bite, do they?”
I can think about it. Mull it over like an almond touching my tongue and exuding its odor in my mouth pervading my sense of taste.
I am also physically “rocking”. I have found when I am in my old oak rocker with rounded arms; I have visions of my favorite relative, Aunt Maggie. How hard her life was; how long she would laugh with my father. While standing with our family at her bedside in the last month of her life, she was laughing. While she and my father had many travails and illnesses, they were gifted with deaths coming at a time when they were still “themselves”. Perhaps, being illiterate like they were, helped them to do it: “bird by bird.”
I refused to go to a grief group today. I felt like I was emotionally denying the group as in my working life, I
had experience with these groups. I do not want to be
defined by widowhood. I want to be the person I am
becoming without his being with me.
My, my, all the things that have come and gone in the five
months since his death: we are back to full-scale war,
Ebola is on our shores and he will miss seeing the new comedy with Fluffy as a star. My husband would have been distressed by Robin Williams’ death. The roiling stock market would have consumed his days. We would have taken short walks with the dog. As the days are getting grayer, we would have read for at least two hours every evening. I read the newspaper and the Economist. I start the day with the Guardian. I wonder what he would think or say. Then, I move on because there is no way to understand. When he stepped through the veil to join our daughter, he is no longer known to me as I am no longer known to him. Our journeys have separated.