If Only John Could See Me Now!

Daughter Lise has worked her way through most of the boxes that were tucked away in the house. Many were never opened from the last move eight years ago, and some were even older. Now John was not a pack rat, but he did have a historian’s mania for preserving things. Lise found a treasure trove of T-shirts from the train clubs he belonged to. Two from Long Island celebrated the 45th and 50th anniversaries of the club. They fit me, and I am wearing them proudly!!! Perhaps John was planning to wear one for the 60th year celebration, but I suspect he had totally forgotten about them.

I have been keenly aware of our lifetime supply of hand soap refill jugs. Evidently a gallon lasted us a full year. We moved eight (8!!!) gallons down, and the last one is half empty. John and I laughed about it frequently. I presume he bought a jug every time it went on sale at Costco and tucked it away in a different place each time. Since I spoke of that, Lise assures me we have an overabundance of Scotch tape, small note pads given away by charities, and free ballpoint pens. Does anyone else have a lifetime supply of a product? I would appreciate some company here.

Removal and Restoration

Thanks to neighbors Jeff and his wife, we can see the garden and pasture again! Daughter Lise talked about bushes that had gotten out of hand, and they offered to remove them. Using a little tractor, belts, a chain saw and shovel, they laid the bushes to rest on the burn pile. What a team! Look at the before and after photos. I am very grateful, as you can imagine.

The dynamos also cut the useless climbing plant that had produced one bloom in eight years. They removed most of the living branches, and Lise picked out the skeleton. That wall must feel that it can breathe again. I smile at the emptiness.

Nieces Kathie and Julie, with Michael and dog Gumball, came from the east, providing lunch. They brought fantastic salads, bread, wraps, desserts, and drinks. What a spread! We restored our bodies with the food and our spirits with lively conversation. David paid special attention to Gumball.

David and Gumball by Julie

We ladies went through family photos, letters, and clippings that Lise set aside for them. Most amusing were a couple of post cards that my brother and I wrote each other when we were children. I wonder if that was a voluntary activity. It amazes me that John had saved so much family history, and now it is going to the people who lived it. Marvelous!

This was the best photo of the day of Lise, Julie, and Kathie.

I enjoyed this special family time and appreciate all Kathie, Julie and Michael did to make it possible.

Testing the System

Daughter Lise has been sweeping through the house like a whirlwind, transforming little junk rooms into showcase closets. She is a force of nature that can’t be measured. A few days ago she converted my bedroom linen closet with neat stacks and bins with labels. It’s too bad I don’t have a “before” photo, but I am not into self-flagellation.

Closet by Lise

This morning I woke with a very itchy wrist. It was time to test the system. I figured a soothing lotion should be in that closet, and it was in the first bin I withdrew. Yes! Lise’s system worked perfectly for me! I shall lead the applause for my wonder-working daughter!

Travelers and Homebodies

Grandson David bought a steam engine that he and John were going to fetch from New Jersey. When John took a very different journey last month, Paul offered to drive up with David. Lise and I were delighted that he came here the night before, because it gave us a chance to get to know him. He is the kind of person who can talk to anyone about anything, all of it interesting.

Lise, David, and Paul

The next morning they rented a van, posed for me, and set off. At the end of the day, they spent the night with Paul’s daughter in Pennsylvania.

David took a photo of his mother Kate and Paul after the engine was loaded in the van. I really appreciate this shot, because I asked David to take it, knowing they would be in a hurry to head home.

While David was gone, I trimmed the evergreens on one side of the garden steps before breakfast. I often say I can see what I’ve done, but no one else would notice. This is my record.

On the way inside, I paused to admire the crepe myrtle. It was showing off, because it should have been trimmed at least three times before getting to this stage. The loppers will be lopping this fall.

Clean-up and Play

Daughter Lise spent hours going through old boxes that were moved here eight years ago, unopened. John and I should have gone through them to enjoy old memories and give our children their keepsakes. She has piles of things to give to family members and a stack of letters for me to go through. I found a binder with notes written in my hand about the practice teaching I did when I was a senior in college. What an eye-opener! I remembered only one day of teaching, a day when the children were a bit unruly and I felt ineffective. Those pages showed me that I was organized, and the second-graders responded wonderfully to simple music theory and singing in two parts.

We took a welcome break when former neighbor Connie came for lunch while Albert was being groomed. David knelt on the floor to fit in the photo.

Lise, David, and Connie

Luckily, there is no photo of my running. While walking in the morning, I asked Lise if she could still skip. She could. I’d tried it the day before when she thought I was skipping, but I didn’t get my feet off the road. Could she run if she wanted to? With no announcement, I took off running. I just HAD to try it!! On the third step, the right foot hit the sole of the left shoe, and I was falling. I had time to think what a fool I had been and wonder how badly I would be hurt when I hit the road. In an instant Lise had her hand on my arm, steadying me. She claims I caught myself. We looked at each other with wide eyes and then howled with laughter. Lise’s first thought was that her siblings would demand to know why she hadn’t protected me from myself while she was with me.

David untangled wires behind John’s computer desk. The desk had been moved quickly, and we wanted to replace a monitor with one Lise found in a closet.

Since I had paid the electric bills electronically, we thought it would be simple to change John’s name to mine. We had to go to the office, provide a death certificate, fill out numerous forms, and set up the payment again using the same bank account. The woman was very helpful, and as we got up, she offered me a rain gauge or a hat. I took the hat! I always wanted to own a baseball cap with no ties to a sport, and now I have one.

As we started up the steep hill this morning, we stopped to admire the mist and the mountains. Lise was sure the corn in the foreground grew overnight. There is always something to see that is different from the day before.

Memorial Service and Family Time

Reblog:

The trip from Massachusetts to North Carolina went amazingly well. Chris and I weren’t sure how it would go. We knew we wanted to avoid traffic so we decided to drive through the night. Uncle John had always said that was the best time to travel, too, so I felt that approval right from the get-go. Gotta tell you — the views were not bad. We were in the hills of PA when the sun dipped down for the night….

Full post – https://chrissie.blog/2022/07/21/memorial-service-and-family-time/

Race in the Supermarket

Daughter Lise and I bought doughnuts, then went in the supermarket to pick up a few items. Being aware of the hot sun beating down on the car, we hurried up and down the aisles to save the sweets. As we turned a corner, I realized I had the advantage and walked as fast as I could to get ahead of Lise. She commented on my speed and closed the distance. The race was on. She was handicapped by the small cart, so I tried not to dart around elderly people. The paper aisle was free, and we both went at top speed to pick up tissues. No one else was in the frozen food aisle. We looked like a couple of goons, going as fast as we could without trotting, giggling the whole time.

We were a bit more sedate when porch-sitting with neighbors, without lessening the fun. I forgot to take a photo when neighbor Joyce came to our back porch. I did get one at Holly’s house. Shawn is not elusive, but I failed to catch her.

Note Macy, the dog, posing on the floor.

Family Times

When husband John joined a train club four hours away, I told him my hobby was going out to eat. Bless his heart, he honored that. Before he died, we were in the habit of eating at a restaurant on grandson David’s day off and on Sunday. I began to take a photo of the two men across the table. I’m very pleased to have those shots now, keepsakes of relaxed times when we chatted and laughed together. David is working as usual these days, and Lise is transforming our house into organized living. What a whirlwind she is! All of John’s papers have been put into folders, and the office closet now houses games and jigsaw puzzles. She and David straightened up the hall linen closet, and the guest room storage space is now under scrutiny. Lise and I are dealing with paperwork for change of titles for large items, life insurance claims, retirement benefits, medical bills, and change of names on all joint accounts. We have continued our habit of eating out. Here are photos of my lunch companions across the table and David’s tuna wrap at Beach Mountain Diner.

We asked David to pose with both of us at Waynesville Pizza.

I’ve never spoken of the Maclin Pat, a new name for a goofy practice that my brother Bob and I began when we were teenagers. Maclin is our family name, hence the title. In a teasing mood, we’d cock our heads at an angle, put on a silly expression, and pat each other’s arms. David and I continued the practice when he came to live here, and Lise has joined in. Would you agree with me that the ritual needed to be documented?

Month One

The first month after John’s death went by quickly. Grandson David and our marvelous neighbors looked after me until daughter Lise arrived from Denmark. Lise is a whirlwind who can manage anything easily and organize everything quickly. What a blessing she is! We began where we left off after her last visit, walking to the creek.

She rearranged and organized John’s office, beginning with papers on his desk. By the first memorial service, the room was pristine, although the closet had not yet been transformed.

The day after the funeral, we took a break. My children, grandchildren, and I went on the Blue Ridge Parkway, dodging rainstorms. We ate leftovers from the two huge meals Marco prepared for out-of-town relatives.

Nathaniel and Sarah had to get back to their jobs, followed the next day by John $ and Kate. How grateful I was that they could be here! It dawned on me that there was no need to identify my son by his first two names, because he was now the only John in the room. He will continue to be $ to me, though. Marco had one more day, and we went to Big Creek where I spotted a boulder with two hearts.

Lise invited Logan over to play games. She introduced him to a new card game she had brought from Denmark involving numbers and strategy. When David came home, the three played DOS on the porch.

Lise and I called neighbor Bob when we couldn’t change a bulb in the shower that had been there over eight years. He came right over, saw we had almost made a big mess, and quickly found a bulb in our garage and replaced it. We were very grateful he let us watch, because the bulb burned out the next morning. The bulb must have been sitting around a long time and assumed its job with false assurance. We bought the kind of bulb Bob recommended, and David provided the needed height. Thank you very, very much Bob and David.

Yesterday we had the second memorial service for John for church members. I took a photo after friend Susan put his ashes under the pall at the front of the church. David and I sat in a pew at the front. John had been a member of the choir for several years, and the group sang a Kyrie and a hymn. It was ethereal, the best I’d ever heard them sing that type of music. John would have loved it.

I was filling out a form that asked for my marital status. The word “widow” popped in my mind, but the choices were married or single. I laughed. How on earth could I be single after being married for 58 years?? I felt like putting “suddenly single”. Single will never feel right, but I’ll get used to it.

One of the best things of this first month was hearing people talk about John. They praised him for his work in the church, admired his vast knowledge of many things, spoke of his gift for leveling railroad tracks, commented on missing his many e-mail messages, and shared stories from long ago to the present.