The house is sad. The vacant windows without lace curtains stare sadly back at me, accusers of abandonment.
It truly is not my fault, I plead. Yet there is doubt in that statement. Could I have chosen differently? Is my sister an easy target to blame?
I wander down the dusty road to the cemetery to say hello to all my ancestors, starting with great, great grandfather Meek, saving my son for last. None speak back. They are not there. Not like in Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" where they sit in chairs and talk to one another about the live folk coming.
Over the chain link fence are the slave graves and I wonder if I will ever have archeologist dig for their graves. My brother knew where they were. He walked me through the trees pointing out each one. They were great, great grandfather Meeks helpers…8 in total. Females were not counted.
The wind heard my voice murmuring "I will be back, Freddie, I love you." and sent it through time and space to him and as I turned my face upward, I could feel a slight breeze brushing my skin.
Leaving the shiny new tombstone is hard, even if I know he is not there. "How," I ask myself, "do I live the rest of my life?"
Returning the way I came, walking the road of my childhood, back to the green house now one with the bamboo and brambles, waiting in silence.
Wasn’t a good idea, it seems. Request with drawn. One for the home team.
As I sit here and ponder the attorney’s lengthy notification, my question is only one:
If a spouse walks out on her dying husband abandoning everything for her girlfriend, how she is entitled to that property?
Oh, how greed manifests.
As I turned and saw the damp towel on the bed in my room in MA today, I remembered another damp towel on a bed in 1961 in Picayune, MS.
September 9 of that year, I married my son and daughter’s father. I met him at the Junior college where I taught. He was a student, flunked out of Loyola in New Orleans along with a handful of other guys. They all became my students. They were 19; I was 21. My first teaching job after graduating with a BA in English Literature, with minors in French, music, and journalism from Delta State College in 1959.
My position was to teach Speech (one would have to look carefully to find that as a major course, having had the one required course in Speech and nothing else) and Business English. Well, I did know how to write letters. My first day, my first class was Speech. Scanning the room, I saw all male faces about my age and one older female. My first thought was, “Oh, dear God, they forgot to teach me how to teach. Call the roll.” I never got through that task. All the names were French, and my knowledge of French escaped me…. not even Bourgeois seemed to come out right, much less Labiche, Toujacks, Seuzenio, etc. I have forgotten how to spell their names and not being home having no annual as reference.
The Bourgeois male leaned forward and said “That’s Bourgeois, you know,” in a Cajun accent. By the end of the year, these guys were my friends. The teachers/professors were so much older than I, that it seemed natural to me. I suppose back then it was not such a big deal and I knew from early on that I was too young to teach in college. Talking with the Dean, I said, and he agreed, that Soeech and Business English were not my forte and I should not plan on coming back. He made no reference to the flunked out Loyola students, one in particular. Thus my career ended there and I immediately found a position as a high school English teacher.
Oh, I married him. It rained that day. I had this strange feeling. This was a mistake.
He went back to the junior college; I drove to the high school in Kiln, MS. This particular day, I had to go back to school because I was also the cheerleader coach (once again something I knew nothing about) and in my rush to bathe and get back to school, I left my towel on the bed.
He declared I was having an affair with the gay English teacher whose classroom was adjacent to mine. Thus, the damp towel. It was all downhill from there even though we stayed married for 15 years and many girlfriends later.
The psychiatric physician he sent me to, because I was crazy, stated that he had projected onto me his own practices. This was years later.
Remember this. It comes around again.
What is it all about? We choose what to make meaningful in our lives.
Daddy in the end would walk through the house with his work boots on, feet swollen, saying “I have to get control”. I now wish I had asked “Control of what?” Perhaps it was fear. Perhaps it was the excruating pain from the bone cancer that was progressing up through all his organs leaving his brain last.
Before the last two weeks of his life, he went into the woods and found the biggest oak tree and cut it down by himself and then split the logs for firewood for mother. Daddy said he would miss the fire.
He wanted me to tell him what would happen at the end. I think he thought I really knew. Part of what I told him was true; he would either go into a coma when the cancer ate his brain cells and live in a vegetate state or he would die immediately. He wanted the latter. I also said that someone would come for him. I told him to go with them, not to look back but walk straight ahead. Do not look back.
In the early morning hours, he died, he kept insisting that someone was at the hospital window. My sister did not know what I had told him and assured him no one was there. I wish I had been there to find out who came for him and then maybe I would know that there is an afterlife. Is there an afterlife? We are told there is, but how do we really know?
So I guess I told Daddy the truth; did I tell Freddie the truth? No, I made it up but they were the only words that came. I told him that God’s computer network had gone down and that he had chosen him to fix the system for him because he also needed his beautiful voice for his choir; two angels got into a squabble and one walked off leaving a vacancy that only his voice could fill.” I told him to go and help God. He needed him and that even though I would miss him, I would be ok. I had always taken care of myself.
I knew I would never be ok. I knew that my world shifted from looking for a some miracle to save him to being lost at not having him, even though I never really knew the adult man he had grown into nor did I understand a number of things that happened during his lifetime.
Why did he die? What was it all about? How do I go on living in this world without my son?
How to live the remainder of my life searching for answers on how to be. Searching for who I am, going through old journals and photographs to find out who I once was; what happened in my childhood; after my siblings left, the cold quietness of the once warm home filled with news from my siblings life.
I think we were all outliers in our own way. Hearing that my father had cancer sent a warning bell through me; was this the beginning of the end of this family.? What am I suppose to do? To feel? How do I prepare to go on without him? August 1990 brought the end to his suffering. He tried to tell me that their was something wrong with mom. He did not know how to put it in medical terms. He just knew something was different.
Next my mom with her deteriotiang mind; the same person, the personality different, yet she knew all of us. Was it really Dementia? Or perhaps a tumor? No one ever did an X-ray or CatScan, so how do we really know? May 1995 she left in the night.
October 1990, My niece’s car ran under a log truck; 1996 my 2 brothers died 6 months apart; July and December 24.
Death seemed to be gleefully taking all that I loved…23 friends one year but the worst was yet to come in 2016 as I watched my son slowly wither away without close family around him except for me. I was afraid; I am sure he was afraid. We were not good at communicating our emotions. Never had been.
Now I am left wondering how to live this disjointed lonely life.