Wake up, spring is here!
Find your joy, dear girl or boy.
Bliss grows fast as grass.
Grief was my constant companion for much of the last ten years.
During that time I lost both of my parents, and my spouse several times over to memory loss.
Caregivers of those afflicted with Alzheimer’s and dementia first lose their loved one as their cognitive skills disappear in several unique stages.
And then they ultimately witness that final loss, with the death of their loved one.
I was no different.
By the time my husband finally passed, there were no tears left to shed.
Yet earlier this week I caught myself crying some after the election.
My tears weren’t particularly tied to the results, but more towards the hatred and lack of civility bubbling over everywhere.
Still those tears weren’t long lived as I know there is much work to do in this country.
I decided I better start with me.
I knew I had to find some peace to feel grounded if I am to be productive in the days ahead.
Making sense of this election and defining next steps will come to me in time, but only after the rhetoric has faded.
So Saturday I chose to find comfort and community while standing in line for shrimp chowder at the local butcher shop, and a generous slice of pumpkin cake at the bakery afterwards.
The warm welcomes and sweet scents soon had everyone inside smiling again.
No phones appeared or politics were spoken in either place.
And this morning it was all about blue grass and lemon grass Thai treats at our Sunday’s Farmers Market.
Humming as I left to stop by a neighborhood church service, I found myself parking further away than needed.
But I knew it would give me a chance later to walk over the bridge of a brook sparkling in the sunshine, and check in on the garden just beyond.
After the service, upon entering I discovered fragrant and strong yellow roses were still blooming in the breeze.
And cheerful white daisies, too.
I sang softly, “…life goes on in endless song” from the closing hymn I’d just heard.
Yes, I believe it really does.
Even in November of one particularly nasty election year.
I awoke to the news that today is ‘Love Your Pet Day’.
Somehow I’ve missed the holiday’s very existence over the years.
So I thought I’d start early with my canine crew to make up for lost time.
Especially as there was no time or an extra ten to shop.
First, I began with 13-year-old corgi, Maddie.
I gifted my matron scratches behind the ears, an extra long belly rub, and one of her favorite rawhides.
She sweetly licked my hand in thanks.
Next, it was Tucker the terrier’s turn.
Nine year old Tuck trembled in excitement when I picked up his blue leash to go for a walk.
With the spring like sun melting the snow in the streets, he knew it could be an extra long one.
And he was right.
Afterwards, Tucker brought me his favorite and noisiest squeaky toy in gratitude.
That left the question of just what to give to my 1-year-old chi/mystery mix Rex.
He’s only been with me two months and we’re still dancing some as we get to know each other’s likes and dislikes.
Kind of like a honeymoon period.
But I didn’t wonder for long.
It seems my handsome man is a giving little fellow.
And he’d chosen to be the one to act as gift giver this holiday.
Rex brought puppy kisses, and plenty of them, to my granddaughter, daughter and me.
All of this is very new to Rex.
I don’t believe he’s ever been a pet before.
And since we thoroughly enjoyed those puppy kisses, I decided not to set him straight on how this holiday is supposed to work.
Instead, I gratefully kissed him in return on that very sweet and cold little nose.
My mystery mix pup Rex joined me right before Christmas.
I quickly discovered the little guy was smitten with my small collection of Christmas decorations.
This morning I caught Rex chewing the edge of a small holiday box I’d recently put away in the basement.
He barked excitedly to get my attention.
I walked over to calm Rex down and see what was inside.
Pulling off the tissue, I found the flea market Santa’s Helper planter I’d bought during our November’s Farmers Market.
Rex looked very pleased as I slowly lifted it out
I’ve been told my handsome man does have an elfin appearance, just like the image in the planter.
Rex began to whimper as I began to wrap the piece back up.
He looked up at me with his very best pout.
“Hey Rex,” I said. “What if we leave it out and fill it with candy hearts for Valentine’s Day?
My little handsome man yipped in agreement and gave me one slobbery kiss.
He then did his best happy dance over to his pup bed for a long winter’s nap.
There’s just nothing like another magical holiday to wear a boy out.
Every year, this particular week is one of reflection for me.
Along with Thanksgiving, I acknowledge my birthday, and that of a brother who died too young.
And once there was a wedding anniversary.
It would have been 29 years of marriage this week if my husband Richard was still with me.
I find my memories of years gone by are as warm as they are cold.
The recollections of steamy windows and turkey bastings still fill my heart, even if the details of faces around the Thanksgiving table are fading.
And birthday party gifts of little pilgrim candles still dance happily in my head, though in one a bit fuzzier.
Yet dark November commutes on icy roads driving Richard to his adult day care center in his last years still send a chill up my spine.
My Spode Christmas mug companion, lined with mistletoe and hot coffee, would turn cold as Coke by the time I’d cross the city line to New Hope each morning.
I’d try hard to be ‘of cheer’ but would fail miserably.
Typically mumbling to myself, “New Hope? How about ‘No Hope’?” as I’d drive off from the facility downtown to work.
Dementia can do that to a caregiver.
But I’ve learned there was hope back then, and perhaps there always is.
Not of a spouse recovering from an illness where there is no cure, but of a caregiver coping with acceptance, loss and finally moving forward.
I drove to the store in sunshine today to replenish my coffee supply for my Christmas mug that now rests on the kitchen counter.
As I first walked through the door, I was greeted by the scent of buckets of yellow roses and a happy clerk restocking them.
I was definitely tempted.
The price was good, but I walked on by.
I can’t just buy them for myself, I thought.
But I stopped, shifted into reverse, then picked up a bunch along with my French Roast.
Smiling at the friendly check out clerk, I said, “These are terrific! Just like the ones I held at my wedding 29 years ago today.”
I added my husband was now gone.
His face saddened some, but then he smiled as well.
I watched him attach a sticker to the cellophane wrapping.
A “paid” sticker, I thought.
“Here,” he said, handing them back to me. “No charge. Happy Anniversary!”
I admit a tear rolled down my cheek.
Ok. Maybe two.
But my gratitude far exceeded any sadness.
And isn’t that how it should be every Thanksgiving week?
I’m voting yes.