My grandson is turning 5; the same number of years I’ve lived here. Over those years, lots of changes have taken place, in the place I now call home, in me, and in him. The messy back bank, full of weeds, has been replaced with rocks and perennials in all the colors of the rainbow. The water stained porch was removed and kitchen updated. A woodshop and finished entry were added to the empty, open basement. My life cluttered with undesirable thoughts and disarray has been replaced with determination to bring it back to life and find many useful purposes. Much sadness has been removed and therefore, so has the overflow of tears. How I live my life has been updated to accommodate the changes I needed to make in order to move forward with my life. The emptiness has been filled with grandchildren and acceptance. My grandson is like the colorful perennials, full of life, growing taller and filling up the space they started out in. He’s part of my update; the continually new replacing the stagnate old. He’s part of all I’ve added to me, filling in the empty spaces left behind after so much was taken away.
I realized yesterday the same thing I realized 30 years ago – I’m getting chubby. Last time it was a photo, this time a video my grandson took. I know I’ve been eating too much peanut butter and chocolate but didn’t realize that it’s been way too much. I’ve been justifying it with it’s a pleasant reward for all I do and what’s wrong with that? I was hoping I was being active enough to avoid any major consequences. Well it ends up the result of enjoying my sweets makes me very unhappy. All it took was watching myself, without holding in my tummy, in the video and seeing the one thing I was never going to let happen again. I’ve only gained 3 pounds, but it’s the wrong kind of pounds, so last night I decided to stop the peanut butter and chocolate , get up earlier, and move. Body first – get my heart rate up for 20 minutes, toning my muscles, and strengthening by back and arms. Mind second – write a blog. Belly last – one small treat with tea, a late breakfast, light afternoon lunch, and healthy supper. No one’s going to do this for me – so get going!
I had a full day off yesterday. The night before I thought about kayaking, even checking out my paddling map. But when I got up, my first thought was what was I going to do with an entire day. I had a lawn to mow and then kayaking? My thought about putting the racks on the car was alone. My thought about loading the kayak was alone. My thought about lugging the boat and gear to the water was alone. My thought about being on the water was alone. Why can’t I bring myself to do this thing that, not so long ago, I loved the most? Is it important that I go? Not really. Don’t I like it anymore? I don’t know. It seems to have become the most alone I can be. Working in the woodshop, gardening, crafts – all the things I’ve always done alone – don’t make me feel alone. I don’t feel this way about walking, hiking, snowshoeing, or cross country skiing, so why kayaking? Maybe it’s the stillness – uncomfortable with not thinking, not doing, not talking. This doesn’t happen anywhere else but on the water. If that’s it, then what? Don’t go? Fix it? How?
There’s a song that says “forget about life for a while”. The only reason to do so is to escape the unhappy, difficult, or painful parts life throws at you. There’s many ways to jump ship, unload, or check out before you get called back to reality. I used the, work lots of hours and traveling on weekends method, providing a way to avoid going home to an empty house. There’s alcohol and drugs providing a way to lighten the load. But these things deal with “forget about life”, but forget the “for a while” part. Forgetting is fine, but it’s only temporary so at some point you’re back at remembering. Do you keep going around in circles or change whatever you’re trying to forget into something you want to remember? Maybe you can’t fix it or maybe you just haven’t figured out how yet. Maybe you can fix it or maybe it takes less effort not to. My fixing was a combination of taking years to figure out how and making the effort to work on it. It’s not totally fixed yet, and it might not ever be quite right, but at least there’s more to remember than forget.
I heard a woman comment about loving her husband during difficult times, stating you have to choose to love every day. It made me consider if that’s true. I believe love is a feeling, and feelings aren’t something you choose; they just are. It’s easier to say I love you because I just do than to explain the reason why. I loved someone once who didn’t love me. Letting go of that love wasn’t as simple as choosing to do so. I loved him for a long time but chose every day to let him go. There were several guys that loved me, but I didn’t love them back. Why? Because I don’t think love is a decision. Like many feelings, love is created over time. As I think back, I fell in love with my husband by being around him and discovering he was kind, sensitive, and likeable, loveable. I loved my husband whether or not I liked him. My choice was to stop disliking him because the love never went away, and it was easier to do so because I loved him. Do I love him still? I’m not sure what it would take to make me stop.
In the movie I watched last night, a man thanked his wife for loving him when the idea of someone loving him seemed so unlikely. They were only together four years when tragedy separated them, but those four years were enough, no, more than he ever expected. I had 37 years with my husband’s love and I thought, would four years have been enough to sustain me for the rest of my life? I’m thinking of a husband whose wife recently passed away after being married not quite two weeks. Was two weeks enough? How about a day? Would I have counted it a privilege to know my husband’s love for just one day? I know I wanted to be married, but pretty sure I wasn’t thinking about being loved. I know my parents loved me, but with a care-for love, not that I’m-the-most-special-person-in-the-world love. I would describe the love I had for my husband as deep-down love that you feel in your soul, but I can’t seem to recall what it felt like to be loved by him, nor can I decide which is greater, loving or being loved. Loving is an honor, being loved is being truly blessed.
Memories – the good ones captured in photos, and the bad, deeply planted in my mind. I still print photos, a lot less than I take, but I love to hold memories in my hands, remembering events, and family and friends, now, when they were younger, or forever the same. I’ve made 6 Snapfish books so far, each holding 80+ photos, to remember trips, my husband and grandson, and scenery captured in black and white – photos of amazing places we’ve been, with no faces really, so they were never printed. I don’t have any photos of people, places, and events I no longer want to remember. Not that I didn’t capture any of these once-happy memories, but they’re easy to throw away when the ending turns out far different than the beginning. Then there are the memories that don’t need to be captured in photos. The ones with the best resolution, of moments in time, reminders of events that I’d wipe from my mind if it were possible. The ones that stick much easier than the ones in photos, requiring me to choose a path – forward to painful memories after, or backwards to happy before. The only time I choose backwards.