Monthly Archives: July 2019

I’ll Give You Something to Cry About

When I was growing up, this saying was something many parents used as a child raising technique. I’ve been thinking about it a lot today, and wondering if mom and dad really understood what it meant:

‘Here is a little gift from me. It’s going to hurt enough to make you cry.’

I don’t think they got that. The point was to shut the child down, thereby making life easier for themselves. Self esteem wasn’t a thing back then. Providing food and clothes, and teaching kids manners and ethics was considered a decent parenting benchmark. But as many of us have discovered, having something to cry about comes to everyone sooner or later.

Today is my husband’s birthday, and I know that since he’s dead, time does not pass the same for him anymore.  I believe that he exists on another plane (some call it heaven) because many people have had near death experiences and discovered that our life energy does not die with our bodies. So, wherever you are, honey, I hope you’re doing something special, like a canoe trip. Me, I’d be shaping up to battle the Death Star with Han Solo at my side. But you were never into science fiction. Happy paddling. Say hello to our friend, Charlie Mott for me.

I hope my request for someone to distract  you on June 28th and July 3rd  was taken seriously. Those were the days I had garage sales for all of your dad’s stuff. Some of yours, too. I’m telling you now, in case you didn’t know. We raised over $3200 between the two sales, and the money went to some good causes. I’m sorry you didn’t get to be there because you would have been shocked by everything your dad had squeezed into those towering piles of junk. It was kind of insane.

And almost like a party. I had three different guys (looking like they were on safari and had just spotted a rare breed of rhinoceros) tell me, ‘This is a man’s garage sale!’ Family and friends helped make it happen. Their kindness gave me something to cry about.

So does your absence, which seems  more real now that time has passed. I guess I took you for granted, which is a gift no one understands until it’s gone. When you’re accustomed to having someone at your side, you slide into the comfortable certainly that they will always be there. But your spot is unfillable, and I’m learning how to deal with that.

Sometimes I get angry, and other days I walk around like I’m searching for something. ‘What am I looking for?’ I ask myself out loud. This has been a constant theme in my life. (I should just admit that I’m looking for my brain.) But now I think I’m mostly looking for you. Even though I’ll have to die to see you again. And I have people here, so that’s not currently doable.

However, when that day comes, you’d better be ready for me. I want to see a shoreline, and a canoe ready and waiting, with you at the back, and my home made Rick Hall paddle already in place. I want us to camp somewhere, and I’m taking it for granted there’ll be no mosquitoes. Maybe you could arrange for us to use that first tent we bought. Remember how small it was? We forgot to buy a fly and it collapsed in the rain. But the rest of the time it was so cozy.

Until then, have a wonderful birthday, and please hug our parents for me. I was going to post the Beatles singing the applicable song, but I think I’ll use one that you sang all the time, even though you couldn’t really sing at all. But that never stopped you, and that’s another thing I loved.

West Side Garden Story

I was hacking my way through the jungle of my perennial garden when I saw a horrifying thing. On the path below me,  a horde of ants was attacking a worm, rolling it over and over, and biting it as it wriggled frantically. I ran for the garden hose to gently wash the ants away and found myself singing along with a song from the musical, West Side Story. The New York 1960’s gang, the Jets, were attacking a lone Shark who’d wandered through their territory.

Was it my imagination that the ants were snapping their fingers? Do they even have fingers? Probably not, but there was some serious dancing going on, especially when I turned on the hose. The worm (ahem, the Shark) managed to escape down a crack in the dirt, and the disappointed Jets headed for home, once they’d dried off.

Next, I shoveled up their ant hill. The little buggers had been stealing the dirt from between my bricks, and I was tired of fighting them. Crossing the road, my wheelbarrow loaded with an entire ant kingdom, I realized I was the bad guy. Like the aliens in War of the Worlds and Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter, I’d brought the dystopian reality of a world gone bad into the ant’s lives. I pictured them wringing their hands (do they have hands?) and weeping about the loss of their home. Honestly, gardening is difficult enough without all this guilt.

What with the singing and gang warfare, it’s hard to know where to start. The clover in the grass is a pain, but there’s a monster sized version lurking in the taller shrubs that’s so much worse.  I think my perennials are in partnership with many of the weeds, hiding them beneath their broad leaves. Tiny dandelion plants, little bits of chickweed. It’s like Romeo and Juliet out there. (The old version of West Side Story.) When I pull a weed up, the perennials seem to cry out in despair. I’m sure I heard one quoting Shakespeare.

“I defy you, stars!”

There might have been a song in there, too.  It’s our Community Choir’s set designer, Ken Pawlachuk’s, fault. He brought the lovely pier from the Mamma Mia musical into my front yard and now, everyone’s a diva. Even the hostas, and they’re usually so sensible.

So, if you see me at the store laughing maniacally in true bad guy style, realize that I’ve just decimated a whole village of ants and uprooted a few hundred weeds. They’re all busy singing ‘One More Day’ (from Les Miserable) while I’m trying to harden my heart. Sure, I’m not using pesticides anymore, but I’m still spraying the weeds with vinegar, baking soda and salt. I’m dousing them with boiling water. It’s just a different kind of torture. But that’s the way we are, us villains. It’s all about our tidy yards and the money we shelled out during the frenzy of spring plant buying.

‘It’s for your own good!’ I shout at the perennials. ‘Stop singing!’ I holler at the weeds. They barely listen anymore.
One more day, indeed. (Here’s the video, a human version. The plants haven’t quite nailed it yet.)