I crossed many states just to stand here now,
my face all hot with tears.
I crossed city, and valley, desert and stream,
to bring my body here.
My history and future blaze bright in me
and all my joy and pain
Go through my head on our mountain bed
where I smell your hair again.
words by Woody Guthrie, music by Jeff Tweedy and Jay Bennett
today was good, and hard, and a gift, and i'm tired, and i want to cry, and i'm grateful.
let's get the nastiest part of it all out of the way first. fritz called and left a message. 'so sorry, shouldn't have dragged you in, still going forward, blah blah blah.' bottom line is that i ended up in a screaming match with him. and now i want to let go. i'm going to tell my story, and hand it over to the tribunal court, and be done. he is not worth the energy and pain. not now, and possibly never. i am going to stop putting energy and effort into a losing cause. that being said, i felt mildly better after screaming my head off at him.
and in a way, maybe it's good that it happened when it did. maybe i needed that little rough patch to remind me what a gift the rest of the weekend has been, and will be. maybe, just maybe, that tang of sour is enough to make all the rest sweeter.
i got up this morning and walked around the garden, coffee mug in hand. it was still cool, and the grass felt good on my feet. i wandered, checking out the plants, and noticing that the vines have really filled in the trellis this year. i can see the garden taking shape, and i like that it seems more settled, more permanent. i'm still getting used to the new house, and letting go of the old one. the more they work on the garden, the more it seems like they'll be there for a while. each visit, it feels more like my parents' house, and not just where they've set up camp.
and as i was walking around, i felt my grandfather walking with me. this used to be the ritual: we'd have dinner at their house, and then gramp would walk around the yard, showing us what was growing better this year, what he'd changed, how the garden was doing, a new shrub he'd added. and in that early morning light, sipping coffee and checking out the plants, i could feel him walking with me. 'it looks good, doesn't it, gramp? mom's done really well. i think you'd be proud of her. you like the purple fountain grass?'
in a way, i think i was getting ready for the rest of the day. and in another way, i think sailing has helped me learn that i can do a lot more than i thought i could. see, today was the first time i've visited my grandmother alone since her stroke. i've been scared to do it. i was afraid i wouldn't know what to say, that she'd get frustrated at not being able to talk, and that we'd both be sad.
i got myself put together, and called gram to say i'd be over in a few minutes. 'oh, hello, dear. and how are you getting here? you're driving! oh, my. well, i'll be right here. come by whenever you can.'
i felt... what did i feel? mildly apprehensive, but as if things would be fine. and they were. we visited for about 45 minutes, and i had plenty to tell her. and she had plenty to tell me. and i mostly got it. and when i didn't, i didn't apologize or try to finish her sentences for her. i only said 'this must be frustrating, gram.' 'yes!' she's excited to hear about the sailing, and we talked about family, and generally enjoyed each others' company.
it felt really good to be able to do that. i've promised to send her pictures of the boat, and my cats. i think i'll also make her a pocket album of my apartment, which she's never seen. won't see, unless i send her photos. she'll be able to see where i live, and look thru the album whenever she wants.
after that, i called dad to make sure i could take another hour, ostensibly to go to the book store. and i did stop by there. but that wasn't what i really had in mind. no, what i did was go to the cemetary. i haven't been there in 10 years, and today felt like the right time to go.
i stopped by the market to get some flowers, and then drove over. people were setting up for some sort of fair, and i pulled around the corner to park out of the way. the guys sitting in the truck said it was a fine place to park, chatted for a few minutes, and said they'd keep an eye on Penny for me. i walked around the front of the church to ask if there was anyone who knew where the family plot was. they didn't exactly, but i got pretty fair directions. it only took a few minutes to find the grave.
i plunked myself down, and made busy with the flowers for a few minutes. i wanted to take them out of the plastic, and put them out properly. and then i sat there, smiling and crying and talking with my gramp and my aunt. i told them all sorts of things, what i remembered and missed, how we've all turned out, how proud i thought gramp would be of all three of us, how i hope i can be the same kind of aunt for my niece as my aunt was for me. a parade of antique cars drove by, and i told my aunt about what happened with her car, how we had it for ages. mostly, i just talked and talked. i said i wished they had a way to tap me on the shoulder, just so i could know they heard. and i promised to come back soon with proper plants that would last a bit.
i had to tamp all that down on the way back to my parents; it just didn't seem right to share all that, not just then. after a nap, we went out for dessert first - local ice cream, hand made. and dad made a lovely dinner. i didn't hang out much after that, as i was still tired from sailing and had to drive home, but it was still a nice chance to visit.
and on the way home, i got the tap on the shoulder. coming around the curve, i saw the most perfect sun. there was no flare or haze; it was a huge, perfect disc just hanging there. and it was the most incredible shade of tangerine. i've never seen a sunset that color before. ever. i realized that this was my thank you note. somehow, sally and gramp arranged to have that gorgeous sun hanging there for me on the drive home. thank you, both of you. know that you are loved, and that i know you love me.