Tag Archive | what matters

Dear Blog

Dear Blog,

Do I want you to become a vehicle for my grief? Some days, yes. Like Fridays, the day of the week my mother died. Seven weeks today. I was reading an article on the Sabbath that Oliver Sacks wrote shortly before he died, and besides the fact that I agree with him about keeping a Sabbath, I also thought of how much my mother would like the idea that she died on a Friday, the eve of the Jewish Sabbath. Blog, we both know how much Rhoda loved all things Jewish and Judaica. We even talked about how possibly her Davis grandfather, Frank, may actually have been a Davidovich at one time. But I’m straying off-topic.

The point here is I don’t always know what to write in you, so many times I just don’t. Then I remember I have dozens of sketchbook journals I could cull through to share bits and pieces of here, which I may consider eventually, although I do like something fresh.

Oh sure, when I’m driving or walking or listening to music and my imaginary conversations with myself start, the ideas flow, the words spill all over, but I usually have no way of transcribing until I get home, and you know how that goes. By then, I’ve moved on to something else and the solitary act of writing is neglected. It’s hard to write, and I don’t want to turn into a blogger who believes her mission is to teach others or enlighten them or constantly be a source of wisdom. I just want to share a few words now and then so that someday, somewhere little bits of my life and the lives of those who have touched mine will be noticed. And maybe remembered. Because none of us want to be forgotten.

Three Weeks

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Since my mother’s death, every Friday eve around the time she died, I do a vigil. This past Friday, there was a light rainfall, our gardens were iridescent in the moonlight, and the fresh air and scent of the rain just felt so good…so I did it outside in my nightie, standing with my arms wide open and looking at the sky. Sometimes my tears get stuck so I let the rain fall on me to wash away some of my grief.

Looking Back

family-05A person is a sum of many parts, of all the lives they’ve touched. There is no all good, all bad, we are many spirits interwoven into one giant one. My mother had a giant spirit. Personality Plus. A lot of heartache and drama; also a lot of joy even if she wasn’t always aware of it. And sometimes we weren’t.

But looking back, I remember the way my two year old son’s eyes lit up, overjoyed to see my parents walking towards us at the county fair — a surprise trip from Cape Cod to Vermont.

My mother and I fought a lot, said cruel things, but there was always love, a connection that I couldn’t break no matter how hard I tried to break the apron strings. Heck, I’m still tied to my Dad’s and I’ve never even seen him in an apron.

But my mom. I was lucky to have her. I had her for fifty more years than she had her mother. She was seven when my grandmother Lottie Mae died. It defined her life and it defined ours. She was fierce, possessive, couldn’t let anything go, perhaps because she lost the most precious thing to a child at a very young age.

The time flew, the time crawled

“What you preserve is the cheeriest memento mori. It is a way to say and mean: of everything that passes, this is what I choose to keep. It is a clear reminder, there for the tasting, of where and when and how you have lived.”

Suzanne’s been gone a month today. She was my daughter’s boyfriend’s mom. A person who loved well and who was well loved. I think of her daily. I think of her boys daily, my girl and all the people heartbroken by her loss. When she was on the last leg of her dying journey I would turn for solace to one of my favorite bloggers, Hannah, from Inherit the Spoon. In between writing about food, her boys, and home, she writes of memories…in the making, and those made, of her mom, who died a few years ago, a lady who sounds like she was also about 59, same as Suzanne.

Recently, Hannah posted the above quote from a book I enjoyed reading a while back, An Everlasting Meal, by Tamar Adler. It made me think of Danny, Brian’s older brother, Suzanne’s firstborn. Both boys left work last March to come home to care for their mom. Danny left San Francisco, where he was a chef at Outerlands, Brian took a leave of absence from his job in Boston. Time seemed to crawl for me as I held my breath, hoping, praying for miracles.

And when the miracle didn’t happen, the time that was left for them seems like it flew. A whole lifetime. Not nearly enough for any of us, glib as we may want to be with our easy platitudes about grief and loss. I just try to remember the Dr. Seuss quote Suzanne included in her obituary, “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” So like her to want to comfort from beyond. Suzanne, wherever you are, I hope you are enjoying an everlasting meal. We miss you.

New Cape/Old Cape

This is and isn’t the cape I left back in the 70’s. The pace is much faster, while the characters and drama in local politics remain static. Kind of like a remake of an old Hollywood movie, not necessarily any better than the original. Same roles, different names and faces.

It’s interesting how the vision and culture seem to mirror the topography. Thankfully we are surrounded by ocean, sky, and horizon…the broad expanse helps balance the narrow land. Nature imposes a balance on our culture and community one way or another.

The dominant culture here changed dramatically while I was in Vermont. Or perhaps, I had changed? most likely, a little of both. The cape felt more conservative and stifled to me. Gone were the hippies and bohemians of the past, replaced with retirees and nouveau riche. Or so it appeared to me on the surface. According to Ana, I needed to create what I most needed to find here, and she was right. Something I’d done unconsciously in Vermont for years and had to learn to do here. And in discovering that I could do it here, remembering that I’d actually been doing this all my life. I was a military kid used to bases and the unique bonds forged with other military families. We were gypsies, vagabonds and I learned early what Darshan was about even though I didn’t have a name for it then.

I rarely drink coffee, I like my tea just so, and you’d better be an exceptional baker if you’re selling because if I can do it better at home…then I will. I am not your typical consumer. It’s an experience I’m seeking, more than a commodity. And imperfection? I love to tolerate it if you have the Darshan I seek.

The cafe, the garden, the work of art, the library, the bike path, the market or shop? That’s just the vehicle to get me to the experience. It’s the people or the trees, the color, or the thrill of the discovery I encounter when I arrive that matters to me.
It’s what Rumer Godden in “A Time to Dance, No Time to Weep” says is a Hindu belief that people will travel miles to see, touch, taste, sense, smell the presence or essence of a person, place or thing, with the belief that they will catch some of its spirit or soul to carry with them – this is what I seek in my journey. Darshan. Connection. The need to belong, to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

When I walk to the Caribbean Market in my downtown neighborhood, I am not just going to buy the ginger tea that reminds me of a place in Amherst from my daughter’s college days. I am also going to hear the musical singsong of Patois speakers, to smell the sharp spices of Jamaican cooking, to pretend I’m in the South Carolina of my birth, to remember my own immigrant grandparents and how hard people work to make a new life for themselves, to create a new home. So, all this being said, I will share with you some of my favorite places on Cape Cod where I experience Darshan. This may include places that aren’t perfect but they always have good people, vision, and the feeling that that place is loved.

This is and isn’t about a place called Cape Cod, how it’s changing, how I’m changing…it’s about home…the home we make for ourselves wherever we are, because it’s about us and the people. It’s my guide to recognizing that home is right where I am.

The Cottage on the Beach

“D” for Dinky. We landed in East Sandwich off Ploughed Neck Road in a wee cottage with a big “D” on it for identification. “D” for dinky we said. How were we, a family of six to fit into such a tiny shack at the edge of the ocean? For a whole week!
Well, we did and we ate taffy, ran in and out of ice cold ocean water (it was June), and we bought sweatshirts at King’s Department Store in Hyannis to combat the gray chill damp drizzle that foreshadowed the weather to come that entire summer and fall.

We went into Hyannis to “People Watch,” a favorite past time, checking out the hippies and the obvious tourists (it’s always the men and their socks that makes them easy to spot).
We went to the Doll and Glass museums in Sandwich Village.

Next thing I knew, my parents had bought a house in Hyannis from Joe Coughlin, and we weren’t going “home” to Virginia.

Sandwich, as in a Place, Not on a Plate

Sandwich was where my Cape Cod life began. Easter 1967, my dad took me for a walk and told me he would be going to Vietnam. He explained Vietnam to me; I asked him why the people who make the wars don’t fight them (some things don’t change). It was his job he said. Pretty much the end of the discussion, other than my fear “will you be killed?” He would be leaving in July. In the meantime, he would have some time with the family. Later that spring he told me we were going on vacation. He was very excited and told me to guess where as he gave me a hint, “Cape…” “Canaveral!” I cried. No, not quite. Cape Cod. Never heard of it. “Where the heck is that?” I asked. Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed. We took plenty of trips to Massachusetts to visit my Irish family, so Massachusetts wasn’t such a big whoop for a vacation to me, even if it wasn’t at my gran’s.

Learning the art of napping

The learning curve for this wordpress blog is steep, but not so with my lessons in napping. I have never been much of a napper, even as a toddler. My pregnant mother would put my 2 year old self down for an afternoon nap, only to wake up from her nap and realize I’d been up playing as soon as she fell asleep. Putting our heads on our desks for an afternoon snooze in elementary school? BOR-ing!

But lately? I’m realizing it is an art, an acquired skill, and like many skills, takes practice. I’m self-taught and sometimes it’s hard but I am trying. And when I am successful, it is a delight to arise refreshed and ready for some new moves. A successful nap for me means rest and a return with no guilt. Nature rests, my dog naps throughout the day, the Spanish have their siestas, great uncles have naps on their recliners, hammocks, basement sofas and beach blankets. It’s about time I pay attention and learn from their examples.

Sunshine

Another day of glorious sunshine, my mom is resting in the back room; her respirator hums and puffs. I am enjoying a quiet patch of morning sunlight, my dog in the picture window, my cup of chai on the table next to me. Blessed mornings, how I love them.

This blog will not become a Sarah Heartburn blog, but occasionally I must share my difficulties here.