The Missing Third

(Ok, ugh. Out of order. Somehow  I managed to skip this post between Around the Corner and Murky. It’s a big important emotional chunk, too. So a restart – to bring us back to that point.)

I blew the car horn three times, in quick succession, then, let one long loud one linger.

That sort of worked.

Jeff didn’t wake with his usual start. He opened his eyes slowly and stared straight ahead.

“Do you see it?” I asked

“See what?”

I considered Jeff’s sleep-talking history and noticed that he didn’t seem to be blinking.

“Hey!” I solidly smacked his arm. “Are you awake?”

He shrugged away from me like I was a loon. “Yeah, I’m awake. A car horn woke me up.”

“That was me! I wanted you to see! Look!” I pointed.

“Look at what?” Jeff searched the distance. “You used the horn?”

“Yes! To wake you up.”

“Why didn’t you just wake me up?” He puzzled.

‘Ugh!” I threw my hands up, pointing again. “Look at the rainbows! There are three of them!”

Jeff squinted and swiveled. “I only see two.”

“There are three!” I directed him to tree-top landmarks; to guide his eye up to the faintest of the triple arches.

“I don’t see it.” He repeated.

Realizing my vision might be clearer because of my colored lenses, I whipped off my sunglasses. “Look through these!” I demanded.

“These are way too small.” Jeff laughed, pinwheeling them.

Overcome with urgency, I shouted “I don’t care! Just put them on, before it’s too late!”

“Ok,” he agreed, but furthered his logical reluctance.

“You know they’re gonna get stretched out and won’t fit your pea-head, anymore.” Said, the man with a head the approximate exaggerated  size of an early-season pumpkin and the scale-confirmed weight of a bowling ball, to the woman who buys her ballcaps and sunglasses in the youth sections of stores.)

I watch Jeff bob his head up and down, peering through them.

“Nope,” he re-concluded. “Don’t see it.”

By then, the third had almost faded away. An unsettling sadness rolled through my heart into my eyes. Jeff stared at me, shocked. “Why are you crying?”

“I really wanted you to see it,” I whispered, to avoid sobbing. “It’s very… comforting.”

“Comforting?” Jeff repeated, his expression equally confused and concerned. “Why is it comforting?”

“I don’t know… it just…  is.” I was just as baffled by my reaction as he was.

I was so truly disappointed for him. In those few moments, it had felt like such an important thing; significant.

I’d never seen a triple rainbow before, and Jeff still hadn’t.

Quote for the Week: 2019 09 10 delicate things jakorte

(about this photo, i was sitting at a sunny high top table taking a little rest during a warmish march traverse city wine tour earlier this year. i looked over at this nook, and thought, “i should take a picture.” then, i thought, “why?” then, i thought, “well, those are some interesting angles.” then, i thought, “i’m gonna look like a loon.” but, it kept drawing my attention, so i got up and took a short burst series. back on the bus, i scrolled through some of the day’s photos while waiting for the rest of the riders to board. brought tears to my eyes.  i can’t always see exactly what i’m shooting in sun glares. happens a lot on weekend morning strolls. especially with spider webs and rainbows.)

Music to His Ears

I didn’t have to listen to AC/DC the entire drive

I don’t dislike AC/DC. The manic mouthiness is a little too raucous for early morning deer-watch drives. Absolutely, better suited to starting off a party right, then keeping you awake on a midnight swoop home.

On M-50, just outside of Tecumseh, Jeff nodded off.

Not unexpected, although that usually didn’t happen until Jackson. I made sure he was solidly snoozing, before I flipped the station, and commenced with a self-indulgent, quiet little country music sing-along.

Jeff shifted, sort of snorted, then settled down, again.

An hour and some later, at the end of the exit ramp in Lansing, I clicked the radio off, and nudged him. “Hey, wake-up,” I tickled his chin.

Jeff lifted his head as I turned the corner, checked his bearings, then turned to me and smiled. “I like listening to you sing,” he stated, sincerely.

The thing is – I can’t sing.

Evidence:

In 8th grade, it was strongly suggested choir might not be my best elective.

In summer theatre, I was given a silent part in Godspell – you know, a mime.

Admittedly,  I endlessly played each new vinyl record (yep, I’m that old) over and over trying to perfect a lyrical breath or catch an unusual beat-part. At some point, my father would reach a breaking point and yell down the stairs for me to stop singing. I always did. Except, for that one time, I decided to hum along. He told me to stop humming, because that as off-key, too.

I can’t explain Jeff’s enthusiasm for my voice, but that’s the kind of thing love does to a person. He once compared my weird warble to the angelic lilt of Alison Krauss.

I told him he was horribly mistaken, but isn’t it sweet how love can taint your ears?

Quote for the Week: 2019 07 30 LOVE hears your song jakorte

 

Common. Quirks.

“Oh, geez,” he protested. “I was just waitin’ for the end of the song.”

He smiled, and waited for me to smile back. I smiled back.

It was one of the crazy quirks we discovered we had in common, on our first date.

We’d pulled into our second restaurant location for dessert and what was supposed to be a good-night, night-cap.

Jeff pulled the handle to get out of the car, then glanced over at me, questioningly.

I hadn’t moved. My hand hovered over the dial. Poised, because, the song on the radio wasn’t at an appropriate end-spot. For my tastes, anyway.

Sheepishly, I explained my compulsion to listen all the way until the end of a tune. Or, at least, wait for a well-timed verse break or chorus completion or the top (or bottom) of an instrumental break, or when the singer took a big breath or something.

Jeff’s concerned expression had quickly morphed into a high-eyebrowed, silly grin. “Me, too!” he endearingly exclaimed.

My expression morphed into a silly grin. I flipped the switch as a comfortable place to end the music arrived, and we exited in sync.

We spent a good 20 minutes or so talking about the best place to stop listening, if you absolutely had to stop listening. If you didn’t have to, we agreed it was best to wait until the song ended. We also both expressed a dislike of DJ’s who liked to talk over carefully crafted ending instrumentals, and confessed to not being able to put a book down until the next chapter; or until the last line of a page had a completed sentence that ended in a period.

Jeff sat down at the kitchen table, while I dispersed groceries. I set a pot of water to boil. Spaghetti was always our back-up when Jeff didn’t feel like cooking. Or, when he took an unplanned afternoon nap that lasted a few hours.

“So,” I asked, after loading the milk Jeff said he’d drink into the fridge. “What was the song?”

“I don’t remember. It was kinda a surprise when I woke up.” Jeff told me.

“Hmm,” I wondered aloud. I asked him what his most recent blood-sugar was. “Oh, that’s ok!” he reported. “It’s only 220!” 220 was a low. Norm was 250-280, fasting.

“Why is it 220?” I asked. “What did you eat today?”

He told me he’d made fried eggs and fried bologna for breakfast, and hadn’t been hungry since.

I continued my inquiry. “Any of your meds change? Have you missed any? Run out of anything?”

He thought about that, while tapping two fingers on the table. “Nope. Got ‘em all picked up last week. Nothin’s changed in a while,” he concluded. “I’m just tired.” He chuckled. “Yep. Guess if I keep fallin’ asleep, I must be tired.”

“Well, maybe you should mention that to the doctor, at your next appointment. Do you have another appointment?”

“Yeah. In a couple weeks.”

“Maybe, you should call before then.” I suggested.

“Yeah.” Jeff agreed. “Maybe, I should call.”

Quote for the Week: 2019 05 07 most relationships begin with quirks jakorte

at the wheel

Visions of a mangled Buick danced in my head.

It wasn’t that much of an extreme over-reactive leap, considering.

The previous week, Jeff had accidentally put the car into reverse instead of drive. At the gas station. He managed to crumple a bit of the hood of the vehicle behind him.

Luckily, “It was a junker and the fella didn’t care.” At least, that’s what Jeff told me. Right before he told me, “I gave him 50 bucks, and he was happy.”

“What about our car?” I wanted to know. “Nothin’’” Jeff smiled. “Not even a scratch.”

I was curious about that. How did he damage the other car without damaging ours, and where did he get the $50 from? “Well, I wasn’t going all that fast,” he chuckled. “Buick’s solid.” The money game from the store till.

Anyway, that’s why the ‘Did Jeff tell you about the car?’ question, riled me.

Split-second, internal conversing commenced. I would have noticed that, right? I couldn’t have walked right by the car and missed that, right?

“Oh, it was so funny,” she laughed.

‘Funny’ caught my attention. I rationalized. If it was funny, it couldn’t be that bad, right?

“I looked out my window and Jeff was sittin’ in the car with the door open, and one leg hanging out.”

“One leg out?” Flashback to the time he decided to hang his blood-spurting leg out of the car on our way to the hospital, conveniently located at the end of our street.

“Yep.” she continued. “I looked out again, and he was still there, and the car was still running!”

Again? How much time had passed between the two look-sees? Then my brain caught up.

“The car was … running?” I gasped.

“Yeah, but don’t worry, hon. He woke up.”

“He. Woke. Up?” My stomach dropped into a downward flip-flop. A heart skip had me clutching the phone and the counter. “He was sleeping? And, the car was running?”

“Yeah, it was just a few minutes.”

‘Don’t worry’ is one of those knee-jerk, antonym inducing commands. I was worried. “Ok.” I said, and thanked her for calling and letting me know.

Jeff wandered back into the kitchen with the last of the shopping.

“So…” I raised my eyebrows, and peered over my glasses. “Wanna tell me about falling asleep… in the driveway…:

Jeff took a deep breath.

“With the car running…

 Big-mouth bass impression.

“And one leg hanging out?”

“Oh, geez,” he protested. “I was just waitin’ for the end of the song.”

Quote for the Week: 2019 04 30 Some people assume the worst case scenario jakorte

Home, to You

We chose our first dance song because we loved how it represented us.

The first verse was Jeff. The fourth verse was me. Everything in the middle, was us.

The song was a reflection of our daily mutual amazement that we found each other. It was true every day, especially for me.

When we were dating, Jeff was the light at the end of my week.

When we commuted together, Jeff was the light at the end of my workday.

When he was on disability, Jeff was the light at the end of my commute. He was my home, in every sense.

I’ll be honest with you. Every evening, driving (or being driven) home from Ann Arbor to Adrian, the same thought would cross my mind. I terrified myself wondering; will today be the day that I get home and find him dead?

I would pull into the driveway frightened. I would walk into our home frightened, only to be soothed by Jeff’s voice ringing out or reassured by sonic-size snoring.

Coming home, though, meant more to me than that. Spending evenings with Jeff were what I lived for. We didn’t do that much exciting stuff, anymore, but we never lacked for conversation.

We’d talk about the news, recipes, sports, tv shows. We’d talk about the store, about the book or magazine Jeff was reading, my job or some random fascinating fact that he had just discovered.

Jeff loved the ‘who-done-it’s. Shows like Dr G Medical Examiner, the First 48 and 24. He was loyal to mystery books and tv series, such as Stephen King and House. He loved some reality and ‘reveal’ shows. American Idol, Extreme Makeover, This Old House; but had no taste for Big Brother or The Bachelor. Oh, and cooking shows!

There wasn’t a cooking show Jeff hadn’t seen at least once. Iron Chef, Alton Brown, Paula Deen, and reruns of Two Fat Ladies were a few favorites. Almost fitting into the foodie category, competitive eating and shows about farming, ranked up there, too.

It was impossible not to learn something new every day. It also wasn’t premeditated, meaning that he didn’t set out to find an interesting topic to share. All topics were interesting.

It was fun to listen to Jeff while he was on the phone with my brother, Greg. Their conversation always seemed to turn into a fact-fest in a “one thing leads to another” way, which they both enjoyed. It was also amusing that Jeff could out-talk my brother, as Greg would initiate the conversation’s end with, “Ok, well, it was nice talking to you… I’m gonna go now.”

Jeff was my home and my haven, my teacher and my mentor, my everything for such a short while. For a bit, I’d been envious of those who had him for longer; the ones with longer lists of memories than I.

I’ve come to understand time in a different way, though. It isn’t the amount of time we have, or the memories we have to hold on to.  It isn’t about how many. It’s about the important ones; it’s about the memories that hold on to us.

Quote for the Week: 2019 03 12 It isn’t the amount of time we have jakorte

Listen to:  Home To You

 

 

 

Better Late

I’d expected a card first thing in the morning, as we got ready for church. I’d waited  through the service and through our late, diner breakfast.

I was impatient, but decided not to spoil the fun. I’d over-eagerly done that, before. Most notably, by ruining Jeff’s engagement plan and proposal.

I figured there would be a surprise when we got home. Only, there wasn’t one.

Halfway through Sunday, July 23rd, 2006, I finally said it. “It’s my birthday, you know.”

“I know,” he replied casually. “I didn’t have time to get you a present.”

“You didn’t have time?” I asked.

“Besides,” he tacked on, “I could never surprise you, anyway, ‘cause you see all the bills.”

“That’s true,” I laughed. “Did you get me a card?” I was still hopeful.

Jeff’s flat answer was, “No.” Then, a half-hearted, “I never made it out.”

“Well, why didn’t you make me a card?” I wanted to know. “You used to always make me cards.”

Jeff sighed, “I was gonna bake a cake later.”

“Oh, ok.” I understood. Going out and getting around was getting more difficult, so that made sense to me. “You could have wished me a happy birthday, though.” I stressed.

“Yep.” he acknowledged, with a nod. “I probably should have.”

Just about dinner time, Jeff got up, and said he was going to go make my cake. I told him he didn’t have to, and that I’d be just as happy ordering Chinese food.

So, that’s what we did, complete with my favorite almond cookies and ritual fortune cookies. As usual, Jeff wanted to know what my fortune said. I read it to him, to which he responded the same way he had every time since we’d first met. “Mine,” he’d wiggle his substantial eyebrows and the tiny little paper slip, “Says – ‘Lucky Number –  69!’”

Three days later, I came home to a colorful Happy Birthday sign in our home-office window. Strategically hung facing the driveway, so I’d immediately see it when I pulled in.

Waiting for me inside, was a stellar dinner. Jeff made a special meatloaf concoction of ground beef, sausage and salsa baked under a cloak of ketchup and garlic. Accoutrements: hand-smashed, garlic red-potatoes with butter, Brussels sprouts drenched in butter and dinner croissants… with butter.

The butter-use was a nod to the occasion. Our frugal budget and our smidgen of health-consciousness meant margarine, in tubs. When planning special dinners, or upon getting good celebratory news, Jeff would roar, “This calls for Butter!”

After dinner, Jeff told me to close my eyes.  I opened them to a cake and a card. The double-chocolate cake was covered in neon yellow frosting and featured a black-piped beak plus google eyes to which he’d added eye-lashes using more black piping.

The card was a comic one. Amusing and strange, with an extra bit of Jeff’s handwritten humor. “Better late, than never.”

We went to bed full of cake topped with canned cherries and vanilla ice cream, holding hands, and giggling. I loved that chicken cake, and my husband, completely.

Jeff had managed to surprise me on a day I wasn’t expecting anything. I like to compare this birthday to the way I consistently and erroneously surprised him the day before his birthday; every year.

That card, though.

It was the last one.

Jeff had, unwittingly, been philosophically correct. I would gladly take always late, instead of never again.

Quote for the Week: 2019 03 05 late is always better than never again jakorte

2019 03 05 better late than never card jakorte

Bystanding; Beside You

Little moments change us every day.

Mostly, we hardly notice; adjusting with a four-second, second-thought: next time I’ll…

It’s the tremendous moments that throw us. Moments so life altering, we clutch our chest, gasping it in. Release comes way too slowly; a barely audible woosh, because there are no words and there never will be.

Just as misleading as “A Year of Memories,” losses pile on.

a daughter, a father and husband, a brother, a mother and friend. pls, a closed head injury, stage 4 lymphoma, melanoma, and some sort of vague, obviously understated, emergency surgery I still don’t know enough about.

This is your year of firsts.

The first day, the first week, the first month. The first winter, spring, summer and fall. The first birthday, the first holiday, the first missed ritual. The first of many commonly ordinary, unspecial wishing days.

It’s ok. It marks time. It gives us a measured outline, a flowing structure. 

It’s ok to have an honest day;  especially, an honest holiday. 

Holes lives leave cannot be filled, cannot be fixed, and are not meant to be, anyway.

They’re yours – to have or to hold or to heal.

I just want you to know: you’re not alone.

I’m walking beside you, because, that’s what love leads to.

Quote for the Week:

2018 12 04 It's ok to have an honest day jakorte