Sign of the Times

066

I couldn’t even write the above title without a peppy REM soundtrack.

The sign that struck me tells its viewers to do something that scares them–or, judging by its use of capitalization, THEM and not necessarily anyone else–every day.

Jim couldn’t have followed its directive because he was never afraid.

The best I can do, many times each day, is perform tasks which used to terrify me.

Having been raised by a worry wart (you know who you are), before my husband’s diagnosis I feared abundant things: flying, highway driving, balancing a checkbook,  dentists, technology, brown recluse spiders.   I even maintained an excessive dose of apprehension about public speaking, notwithstanding my line of work.

There was a time immediately after Jim died when irrational fears came flooding back, and then some.  Even the thought of going to the grocery store and seeing the foods I wouldn’t be buying any more, or looking inside the room where he died in our own home struck terror into my heart.   Then, for many months, I experienced an intense fear that something equally disastrous would strike me, too, and that my children would lose both their parents when they still needed me.

Now I calmly experience many of these former frights (especially the highway driving) as a rote part of every day.  I haven’t lately encountered brown recluse spiders (that I’ve noticed), but I dealt with bats in the kitchen by semi-respectable cowering and without excessive screaming.

I do still fear hearing Very Bad News.  But about the only thing I still fear in that zero-at-the-bone sort of way is losing other people I love.

I suppose I can still follow the sign by taking the risk inherent in letting other people into my life.  Attachment is a scary thing, because its flip side is loss, but closing the door isn’t the answer.  To quote a Jose Saramago novel once again“I don’t doubt that a man can live perfectly well on his own, but I’m convinced that he begins to die as soon as he closes the door of his house behind him.”

(Weekly Photo Challenge: Home) Longing and Belonging

HPIM6794
Jim’s Home (c) SMG 2010

During the past several months I’ve probably given more thought to the idea of “home” than I ever had before.

“The Glennon family was home,” said Uncle Randy at my husband’s memorial service, referring to Jim’s purchase of his very old dream house and land.  With an eight-acre pond.  Jim, who did not long for many things, always had yearned for a pond.  On this unnamed pond, he taught his children and their friends and his nieces and nephews to ice skate.

Jim built benches to drag out onto the ice so children could sit there and he could glide over on his hockey skates, winter jacket flapping open and cheeks as rosy as the toddlers’ were, and pull tightly on their laces and double and triple-knot them.  Then Jim would smoothly skate backwards, holding small hands with fingers ensconced in bright hand-knit frog-shaped or dinosaur-patterned mittens.

One winter Jim and I skated over the pond’s thick frozen surface and I looked down and saw fish swimming beneath us, in blue water clouded over by waves of frozen silver.

The pond and surrounding woods attracted animals of all kinds.  Jim took his camera down to explore and take pictures of swans, red fox and newborn kits, herons, beavers and their formidable dams.

The sun would rise over Jim’s pond, beyond the broad arc of his bountiful bird feeders.  I have never seen so many sunrises as I did during the sleepless nights of his illness, when the fear of missing a waking moment with him–even as he slept–seemed more than I could bear.

HPIM9102

The house itself was and always will be “Jim’s house.”  The new part was built in 1805.  Its thick glass window panes, Indian shutters, original FBUSs (Floor Boards of Unusual Size), ten fireplaces and two brick beehive ovens reminded him of old houses he had worked on with a favorite uncle when Jim was growing up.

As with a Marilynne Robinson character (a widower who remained in the home he had shared with his wife and many children) in Home: “The house embodied for him the general blessedness of his life, which was manifest, really indisputable.” “Such times you  had!” the widower told a daughter revisiting the house–“as if the present slight desolation were confetti and candy wrappers left after the passing of some glorious parade.”

sunrise2011
Sunrise on Jim’s Pond (c) January 2011

Continue reading “(Weekly Photo Challenge: Home) Longing and Belonging”

%d bloggers like this: