Down for the Count Up, 4

FOURS, OCTOBER 5, 2010

Who decided to measure significance in fours?

Scholarly times, significant times, self discovery and soul expansion; whether we realized it or not.

First year scared, uncertain, going through the motions and just trying to keep up. We don’t think about seniors because it’s unimaginable that we will ever be them.

Second year more comfortable, finding routines to follow, not so much worried about being lost, we know our place, for now. 

Third year holding our own, established, feet planted firmly in ownership of our roles, noticing a new class of freshmen.

Fourth year – accomplishment, realized a pinnacle, and confidently measured our success and scholarship.
Some of us went on to college and some of us decided not to take another quarter ride.

Widowhood is a lot like that.

First year scared, uncertain, go through the motions and just try and keep up. We don’t think about happy because it’s unimaginable that we will ever be that again.

Second year not so uncomfortable, not so much worried about being trampled by anniversary dates, holidays and every days since we’ve already been through a round of those. 

Third year it seems we’re holding our own, sort of established, feet planted firmly because we’re tired of change, noticing more freshman faces and wondering if they’ll survive.

Fourth year – taking careful measure of each minor success in our educational journey, we don’t really need to decide to go on pursue a higher education. It just comes with this particular type of scholarship; not exactly a free ride – this one comes with a moral obligation to guide, if we can. Some of us will decide we’ve learned enough. Some of us will seize the opportunity to further our education.

So here I am, four years later having completed a reluctantly personal four year scholarship to widowhood. Not a freshman, or a sophomore, not even a junior anymore: I’m a senior.

I’m sure I haven’t learned all the “alone” there is to know in the universe, but I’ve established a pretty firm, well-rounded foundation. I’m sure additional unanticipated lessons will come my way. Circumstances seem to dictate further education is in store. Never content standing still, I guess I’m headed into the college years now.

Maybe, after another 4, I might qualify for some sort of teaching certificate. Although after another 4, I will no longer be a “young” widow, so I’m not sure how much help I’ll be to the younger accidental scholars. On the other hand, I anticipate, not with happiness, that there will be more peer aged victims of the inevitable.

I keep coming back to the conclusion that timing is everything. So how we count it is important.

Whether it’s a four-year program, a five or eight year program or an accelerated path, time doesn’t change the way you hurt, it merely adjusts your tolerance for the pain and moves it towards a strange and previously unimaginable acceptance.

more usual than un-

As Jeff requested, we went straight home. Didn’t stop to eat on a Friday night, which was unusual, for us.

I cooked that night. Nothing unusual. Just my usual, my-turn-to-cook, spaghetti and meat sauce. Quick, easy, and yummy;  only because Jeff had taught me how to doctor up the jarred stuff. Fresh garlic and onions, sautéed with the meat, and finished with generous handfuls of fresh grated parmesan, made all the difference.

Jeff ducked into the shower, while I was prepping. He announced that he had sweat enough for a whole week that day, and needed some freshenin’ up. He was in there a little longer than I thought he would be. I considered checking on him, but he appeared, just then, in fine spirits.

“What can I do?” he asked, brightly.

“You can go sit down and relax,” I said. “Dinner’s almost done.”

“Supper,” he jokingly corrected me.

It was our usual, silly corny routine. The result of early dating differences, and trying to convince each other what the proper name for our evening meal should be. A lot like the next Saturday/this Saturday debate. After a few, important, miss-communications, we’d decided it was best to always supply a numeric date, when discussing the future.

Happily headed to the den, Jeff parked himself in his chair, legs elevated, as usual. I was stirring the cooked pasta into the sauce, when the phone rang. The one-sided part of the conversation I could hear, was Jeff laughing and saying, “Oh, hi. Yes, I’m fine. Feelin’ great now. Must be…. ’cause I even got my appetite back. Just waitin’ on the wife to serve me up some supper!”

I playfully arched an eyebrow at him through the pass-thru. “Oh, I’ve done it now,” he laughed, said his goodbye, and hung up.

The check-in was from the owner of the business who had taken our original 10’x10′ spot at the mall. They hadn’t been open all that long. I’d only, recently, met him and his wife.

But, Jeff, as usual, had encouraged them, and advised them, and in the course of the day when there were few customers, extracted most everything there was to know about his new friend.

“Wow.” I thought on that for a second. “That was really nice.”

“Yeah,” Jeff nodded. “That was real nice…”

I delivered Jeff’s serving, along with his usual big glass of white milk. On my way back to the kitchen, I stopped before rounding the short, separating wall.

“So, you must have really scared him, too. Huh?”

“Nah. I didn’t scare him,” he negated. “She did that!”

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The Daily List

I guess you could say, somewhere in the middle, I somewhat started on a weird winding road of acetic acceptance.  On the daily drive home, I used to think to myself, “I wonder if today’s the day I’ll get home and find him dead.” I decided I’d have enough of that scenario in my head. I felt it was time to let it out.  Time to ask for help.

I wrote a letter to some of Jeff’s friends and family. I’m surprised I don’t have a copy of that letter, but I don’t. I asked everyone to come see him, to tell him he was important, to see if they could convince him to take better care of himself, to stop chewing tobacco. I don’t know which came first, in a chicken or the egg sort of way – either I told him, or he found out about it.

It’s one of the few times I made Jeff really mad. He said I made him look stupid. I shrugged and raised my voice. “You are stupid! You’re not doing enough to help yourself.”

 It was also one of two times, I made Jeff cry. Tough love is tough on the person giving it, too. If he cried, I cried. If I cried, he’d try to cheer me up or make me laugh. Not exactly an even exchange, but, somehow, we’d both end up laughing.

He said the problem was that he was bored being stuck at home with nothing to do and no one to talk to. The meds made him foggy and mostly he just watched TV, or read, or spent hours at the computer. 

So, I started a daily Jeff list. Only 3 or 4 things that I’d like him to accomplish that day.

It wasn’t all chores. It was some mundane tasks, a few challenges, and some silly stuff.  I found a few of my lists in between orders in the store files. Don’t know if Jeff put them there on purpose or if they accidentally got filed away with paperwork. Some of the highlights were:

Launder bed sheets (I’ll put them on when I get home.)

Check the Power Ball #’s. (No one matched all 5 #’s, but I’ll take anything!)

Water plants (I love our garden!)

Don’t forget to check the NASCAR channel. Al Unser Jr. is expected to retire today.

Go through papers on the dining room table, please.

Call Kapnick’s and find out how much the sweet cherries will be. The sign says “place orders now.”

Research Michigan vendors who might sell us their hot sauce at wholesale.

Figure out what meds you need to re-order.

Wear socks! It will help the rubbing of your feet.

Call the doctor re: Anodyne machine

Defrost the chicken, so it will be ready to cook for dinner.

Set your alarm for med times.

Take naps often – feet up, please!

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