Monthly Archives: September 2020

Clothes Don’t Make the Man

We used to have a house with a huge closet off the master bedroom, big enough to be a bedroom on its own. I had the first half, and Jerry’s half was around the corner, where I never had to look at it, except to put away his clean laundry. When Jerry’s cousin Suzie came to visit, she exclaimed, “Your clothes don’t touch!”

            The large closet was in our last house in Virginia, a custom-built log home on twelve acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge. We lived there 14 years, and hated to leave it, but we needed to downsize and wanted to be closer to two of our kids and two youngest grandsons in Raleigh. Our new home in North Carolina had few of the features we wanted, but the price was right. A new kitchen, deck and patio made it much more livable for us, and now it has been home for eight years.  

            Our closet in the master bedroom is technically a walk-in. I can walk into it, just a few feet, with clothes rods on either side and along the back wall. I can fit only my warm weather or cold weather clothes in it, so twice a year I have to switch and schlep clothes to a closet upstairs.

            For those who are grieving the loss of a spouse, the time comes when the closet needs to be cleaned out; somehow you just know when it is time. My time had come. My friend Diana offered to help me, and she showed up ready for business, boxes and all.

            We had a job to do, so I didn’t allow myself to get sidetracked, but I could picture Jerry wearing everything we packed. He wore that Hawaiian shirt at the “luau” we attended at Attitudes, a nearby pub, last year. A picture of us is displayed on the fridge. Such fun! That was the last time we danced together. He had a lot of very nice golf shirts, and more khakis than he could ever wear, but he mostly was a jeans guy, and jean shorts in the summer. T-shirts in the summer, sweatshirts in the winter.

            We had packed several boxes when Diana turned to me. “Was he a guy who left stuff in his pockets?”

            “Oh,” I replied, “All the time.” We pulled his pants out of boxes and removed the usual items from his pockets: dental picks, change, tissues, scraps of paper. As I reached into one pocket, I found a small stone I had brought back for him from a spiritual retreat I was on last year, when Jerry was in full remission. Hand-painted on the stone were the words, “Believe in miracles.” I didn’t know that he had been carrying it around.

            I remained upbeat throughout our work session, so grateful for Diana’s help. In less than two hours, even with an occasional lapse to reminisce, I could see the space developing in my closet and drawers.

            I still have some items remaining, like ball caps and a few coats. When my daughter Stacy last visited, she found a red plaid quilted jacket of his that she wanted to keep, and my grandson Michael Paul took some ball caps that were on a shelf in the coat closet. I have some more hanging on pegs on the wall behind the laundry room door, which I forgot to show him.

            Jerry was definitely a hat guy. I took one floppy hat he frequently wore fishing, washed it and claimed it for my own. It does not look any better on me than my other hats – I am just not a hat person. But I will keep it for sentimental reasons, remembering Jerry and how we bought that hat on our trip to Maine a few years ago.  

            Jerry’s undershorts and socks will be donated to a lady who distributes them to those in need at local nursing homes. I am happy they will get good use. I took the rest of the boxes to the Salvation Army that same day.

            Jerry’s clothes are gone, but the man who wore them remains in my heart.

Mañana

I think the Pandemic Blues have caught up with me. I am mired in malaise. Every day presents with many hours to fill. I do puzzles, read some, and go out occasionally, to the grocery store, to an early-morning outdoor aerobics class, or somewhere else. I write in my journal, which has become my best source for blog ideas. Creating a blog has become a real achievement.

            Now and then I’ll bake cookies, if I feel like it. I try to cook a nice dinner for myself, making the same amount I used to make for Jerry and me; the leftovers can make another meal. I enjoy the prep work, anticipating how tasty it will be. I can use up a lot of time doing that. When I sit down to eat, I am done in ten minutes, and the highlight of my day is over. I’ll watch TV, mostly some shows I enjoy on Netflix, but the evenings tend to drag on.

            Even my sleep is boring. Each time I wake up to use the bathroom, I look at the clock and then calculate how many hours I still need to sleep. “Still six hours?” “Still three hours?” During the last hour I am pretty much awake, counting down the minutes until I can get up, usually before 6:00.

            Last night, however, was different. I had a dream where I was driving home to pick up my stepdaughter, because she and I were going to go out, to a play, to do something fun; we already had tickets for it. She must have been visiting, since she lives in California. I looked at the time and our tickets were for 7:00 and it was already 6:20, so I called her to let her know we couldn’t make it. We didn’t care that we were going to lose the ticket money, as I remember. It was a positive dream; I remember we were closer than ever and enjoyed each other’s company. She was close to her dad, my late husband Jerry. I can’t help but wonder if the dream had something to do with his death, but I can only speculate. I have not been remembering any dreams, so I found it interesting.

            But here I am with another day dawning and me yawning. I could do housework, but why bother? No one sees my house but me.

            I could pull weeds in the garden, but my garden is going nowhere and it doesn’t seem worth the effort. Alas, it is because of the lack of sunlight in my yard with all the tall trees. Almost none of my vegetables are growing; my high spring hopes have been dashed. I know I could have done more, like fertilize, but I think my lamentable lethargy got me there too. Gardening was Jerry’s thing; I don’t know why I thought I could suddenly become a gardener, just like that.

            I grew one jalapeño and then that plant gave up the ghost.  I did get two bell peppers, my best performer. Tomato plants are long and lanky, but the flowers mysteriously have all disappeared, although I recently spotted a small tomato growing. One lone pole bean plant has twisted itself around a pole, but nothing came of its single flower. Zucchini? Don’t ask. I added a new parsley plant a few weeks ago, and then I went out to pick parsley to find it all eaten, after a nocturnal visit from our deer neighbors. One day a while back I did some weeding, but it is too depressing to even look at my pathetic and pitiful production. I will feel better when I pull all the plants out, to no longer be reminded of remorseless ruination.

            So mañana has become my mantra: why do today what you can put off until tomorrow? I even sing it: “Mañana, mañana, oh mañana is good enough for me.” Maybe this will all lift soon, and I will experience a marvelous miracle of motivation. Maybe. But…right now it is time for a nap.