Halloween Tradition

Happy Halloween

Do you ever wonder what the history of Halloween is? Me either. 

Okay, I kind of do wonder. I had to go look. Basically, the practices of Halloween mostly come from Celtic paganism in the British Isles, and their feast of Samhain, the new year. They believed it was the time when ghosts and spirits came out to haunt, and the Celts would appease the spirits by giving them treats. Interesting. 

Back to my Halloween. Back to plastic masks with the stinky smell and the eye holes, nose holes and mouth holes that would practically cut your skin if they were moved just right. We could eat a sucker and the stick would stick out the small hole that was the mouth hole. We thought it was cool. Like we were smoking a cigarette. Those things made your whole face sweat and it was hard to breathe. They were also creepy. 

Costumes are creepy. Costumes are uncomfortable. Costumes are weird. But we all did it. We all wore those creepy plastic masks to hide our true identity. Nobody knew who we were unless they were trick or treating with us. Or unless they recognized our parents who took us out trick or treating. Wait a second. That never happened. We went by ourselves. Every year. All the time. Do kids even do that anymore? I mean, it is kind of a scary world out there anymore. 

We used to hit all the “good” houses. The ones that gave “good” Halloween candy. As in none of that rotten crappy candy, such as Necco wafers (GAWD), or candy corn (heaven forbid) or those disgusting peanut butter chews that were wrapped in orange and black paper to make them more appealing looking. It never worked. We could all see right through that little trick. The best houses were remembered every single year. It was tradition. I remember some highlights. 

One in particular was the Mateer House. They lived on Broadway. They gave presents! Can you believe that? Presents. The line was crazy. You had to get there early and you had to wait in line. They greeted kids at the door and then proceeded to take down the kids’ name and write it in a book. I wonder how many kids tried to dupe them and get double presents. I would like to think none, but I bet it happened. They were the cutest little old couple. They obviously loved Halloween. One year I got a sleep mask. It was black. I wonder if I ever used it. 

Another house on Yankton street gave away popcorn balls. Delicious, chewy and sweet popcorn balls. Not too sweet and not full of seeds. Perfect popcorn balls. They lived on the corner of Yankton and Capitol. The Brasel house. The best popcorn ball house. That was definitely a house not to miss. 

If you were lucky enough, some houses gave out full size candy bars. That was definitely a huge score in the trick or treating world. If you found the house, you immediately told all other trick or treaters you came in contact with. Sometimes when it was getting time to head back home and people were turning off porch lights, and you happened to hit their house, they gave you all the candy they had left. That was a huge Halloween score. 

Once it started getting late, and we got home, it was time. My absolute favorite part of Halloween. It was time to sort the candy. Everything had to be perfect. I got rid of my costume. I got rid of my coat, if I needed to wear one that year. I sat down in the living room. The lights had to be on. The bucket or bag, or whatever receptacle was used as the candy collector, was dumped on the floor. I had to shoo away the dog and the Dad. Dad would constantly be in the pile. He would always sneak a Baby Ruth or a Butterfinger. The sorting would begin. The candy sorting ritual. Everything in piles. Baby Ruths in a pile. Kit Kats in a pile. Reese’s in a pile. Every single different kind of candy was in a pile. The only thing I would eat while sorting was gum. Dubble Bubble. Five or six pieces at once. Slupring up that sugary pile of pink putty. Mmmmmmmm. I don’t chew gum anymore. You can probably see why. 

Once everything was sorted into piles, the pieces were counted. It was a tradition. Then the trading could commence with siblings. Sometimes nothing was traded. Sometimes a few things were traded and even sometimes the gross candy was thrown away. Dad wouldn’t even eat it. Every year it was done the exact same way. Every year. It was tradition. 

Timing is everything…

A series of near misses.

Tuesday started off like any other Tuesday. I was up at 4 am. I took a shower and got ready to go to the studio to train my morning clients. I let the dogs out and then put them back in the house. I gathered my many bags and coffee, trying to balance everything and getting down the steps safely. I put the bags on the passenger side of the car and walked around and got in my car, backed out of the garage and headed to the studio. It was about 4:50 a.m. I pulled out of the garage and headed up the driveway to the highway. I had gone about a mile when I heard a loud noise. Suddenly it was really loud inside the car. I turned off the radio and listened. The car was moving a little bit, like it was really windy out. It was pouring rain so I really wasn’t sure about the wind. Then my warning light came on. The warning light that tells me my tires are screwed up. Great. I figured I must have had a flat tire. I slowed way down and turned around when I could. I was about one and a half miles from the house. I didn’t want to go fast and risk ruining the rim, so I limped the car back to the garage. I got out and walked around to the back. Crap. Not only did I have a flat tire, I had a blown tire. It looked like it had just disintegrated. Well, now what? 

I decided to take the pickup. I have never driven it before. It’s giant. It barely fits in the garage. I hopped in. I couldn’t find the garage door opener button or the steering wheel tilter. I had to get back out of the pickup, walk through the garage, squeezing between the pickup and the wall and then up the steps and then to the garage door opener buttons by the door going into the house. The pressure was on now. I had to find the button in the pickup in order to close the garage door, otherwise I risked being soaked by the pouring rain. Yeah, it was pouring and it was also pitch black (what does pitch black even mean?). I backed out of the garage without ripping off the mirrors. I was impressed. I finally found the headlights switch and the windshield wiper switch. I couldn’t find the steering wheel tilter yet. So the steering wheel felt like it was way up on the dash. I felt like I was driving an 18 wheeler. I made it to the studio without further incident. 

I was really impressed with my parking abilities on this day. I managed to not hit any other vehicles while parking and backing out of parking spaces. 

I am sure you have all heard the saying, “Timing is everything.” Today, timing was everything. I was grateful I wasn’t out on the Interstate and having that tire blow. It would have been a way different scenario I am sure. Timing is everything.

Many times today that phrase came into play. I picked up a friend’s daughter from dance and took her home. They live by us, so it was an easy favor. On the way home it was still light and traffic was non-existent. We were about a half mile from home and all of a sudden a deer came flying out of the ditch and ran across the road. It wasn’t really flying, but you know what I mean. If we would have been going the speed limit, which is 65 miles per hour or been there ten seconds earlier, we would have hit the deer. Timing is everything. 

Later that evening, John loaded my car on a trailer and we hauled it into town so it could get some new tires. We were a few miles from town. There was a pickup in front of us. All of sudden that pickup slammed on its brakes. Oh crap. We had to slam on the brakes, which is a little difficult when you are trailering a car and your pickup weighs a ton, literally. It’s a little difficult to stop quickly. We were a few feet away from smashing into the pickup. A very small pickup with three dogs in the back was in front of that pickup. We didn’t know that and we didn’t see that until the pickup took a left turn. I don’t think he used a blinker or had any brake lights. Timing is everything. 

In life, timing is everything. Every single one of these situations could have turned out vastly different if it had been 30 seconds on either end. I definitely had my guardian angel working overtime today. I am grateful I didn’t have to find out how I would have dealt with the flip side of those situations. I am very blessed and I know it. 

Sorry Kevin

My 7th grade math teacher’s name was Mr. Curl. Wallace Curl. Math was not my favorite subject, but it just so happened this was the class I was in when one of the most embarrassing things in my life happened.

Junior high, or middle school as it is called these days, is where it happened. I was shy. I mean really shy. If a teacher called on me, I shrunk in my seat and turned several shades of red, like the phases of a ripening tomato. I hated it. I couldn’t help it. I’m not sure why I was so shy. Does anyone really know why they are shy?

I sat in the middle row. It was the old part of the building. It smelled like old books. I really liked that smell. It also smelled like old wood. The wood floor creaked as feet walked across it. The classroom had windows, so at least when I was daydreaming, I could look out the window. I recall our desks faced north and the windows were to the west.

Kevin Maskovich sat in front of me. He had broken his leg so he was on crutches. He was really nice to me and always took time to talk to me. For the life of me, I can’t remember anyone else who was in this particular math class with me. Tunnel vision and tunnel memory may be real. I do remember Mr. Curl standing at the front of the class with piece of chalk in hand, at the ready to scrawl the math problems on the board, beads of sweat running down his forehead. He had his suit coat hanging on the back of his chair and his shirt sleeves were rolled up to his elbows. Heaven forbid I would have to get up and go to the board. That would be like pulling my fingernails off with a pair of pliers. Actually, pulling the fingernails off may have been better.

Everyone was tired. This class was right after lunch. We had hot ham and cheese sandwiches that day. I have never in my life eaten another one after this tragic day. It was hot in the classroom. There was no air conditioning in the school. I didn’t feel well. I was sweaty and nauseous. I was getting worried. I was afraid I was going to be sick. I didn’t have time to ask to go to the bathroom. I couldn’t stop it. It was like a lava volcano erupting up through my throat. I barfed. I puked. I hurled. I blew chunks. Oh God!!! What just happened? I wanted to die. I wanted to absolutely die! How could this happen? Idiot! Why didn’t I run to the bathroom? Why?????

I remember Kevin saying, “What was that??!!” Well, buddy, it was barf and I got some on you. Poor guy! I felt terrible. He did move his crutches out of the way pretty fast though.

Mr. Curl got the janitor. They brought in that disgusting smelling cat litter-type sawdust product to cover up the vomit. You know, that reddish brown stuff. Vomit powder. Supposedly this helped clean up the mess, once the product absorbed the liquid. GAWD!!! I still wanted to die. I just wanted to slither away. I wanted never to be seen again. I just wanted to go home.

I remember watching the janitor sweeping up the vomit. It almost made me vomit again. Someone came and got me and took me home. It was probably my mom. I was devastated. I was embarrassed and I just wanted to shrivel up into nothing.

The experience was traumatic. I had a hard time going back to school. I think it actually took almost two weeks for me to go back. Every time I thought about going to school I would become physically sick. It was hard. I know I wasn’t really sick, but I couldn’t go back. I just couldn’t. One day when I thought I was all better, dad gave me a ride on his way to work. We pulled up to the school and I told him I couldn’t get out. I told him I felt sick. He took me home. I would have to try another day.

I finally got my shit together. I knew I would have to go back at some point. I knew I would have to face my fears. I couldn’t be “sick” forever. My grades were going to go to crap if I didn’t get back. I forced myself to go. Even though it was the last place I wanted to be, I forced myself to go back. See, sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do. It’s part of life. It’s part of growing up. It’s part of becoming a better human. So, I had to.

 

** As I was searching Kevin’s name, I realized that he passed away in 2010 from cancer. May he rest in peace. Sorry for puking on you, Kevin.

** Mr. Curl passed away in 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeanie, the babysitter

Her name was Jeanie. A babysitter. Our babysitter. A once-in-a-while babysitter. One of many. We went through a lot of them. She lived close by. Maybe two blocks away. She lived on Euclid and East Seneca. She lived in a small white house with concrete steps leading to the front door. There was a railing too. It was made of wrought iron and was black in color and decorative, pretty much like all step railings at that time. 

She came to our house to babysit us. The Euclid house. This was an evening. I’m not sure why we needed a babysitter at night. The parents never went out. I’m not sure what was going on, but anyway, she came to babysit. 

We were excited, Jeanie was a fun babysitter. She was really nice. She was going to make macaroni and cheese and we were going to watch movies, maybe play some games and have Jiffy Pop Popcorn later on in the evening. Something else also happened in the evening. 

Sherry and I were super excited. We were going to have a slumber party. Not that Pasty was staying overnight or anything, but we were just pretending it was going to be a slumber party. We got all of the pillows and blankets and made a bed in the living room. Awesome! This was going to be so fun. 

We had already eaten macaroni and cheese and now we were ready for the Jiffy Pop Popcorn. I loved that popcorn. I wonder if they still make it. Whoever they are. We watched intently as Jeanie made the popcorn. She patiently shook the pan until the foil started to expand and fill with popped popcorn. She was careful not to burn it. There is nothing worse than burnt popcorn. I think we even got to have pop with it. Our parents used to buy the quart bottles of Coke or Pepsi. The glass ones you had to pay a deposit on. They came in a six pack. I preferred Coke. There is nothing like the combination of popcorn and pop. Mmmmm, so delicious. 

We were eating our snack and then decided to play a game. I can’t remember if we were going to play Monopoly or Sorry. I hope it was Sorry. I really don’t like Monopoly. It’s my story, so I am going to say we played Sorry. Once we finished that it was time for the other thing that happened that night. First we changed into pajamas.

We decided to have a pillow fight. I really don’t know whose idea it was. It was probably Sherry’s. My story, so it was Sherry. Now, Jeanie was a big girl. She was overweight, but we loved her anyway. We didn’t care what she looked like. She was a fun babysitter. 

Jeanie was sitting on the couch. I was standing on the floor facing her and Sherry had her back to Jeanie and was facing me. All of a sudden with one big swipe Sherry was on the floor. Completely flattened. Lying face down and not moving. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I mean, think about it. Someone gets body slammed a pillow. Completely flattened by said pillow. Funny, right? I think so. At the same time I was a little concerned she may have been dead. 

We waited for what seemed like forever. In reality, it was probably 15 seconds max. Was it going to be an ambulance call or just a “I’m telling mom” call. This is Sherry we are talking about, so it’s just a “I’m telling mom” call. She was the biggest tattle tale ever. 

The wind had been completely knocked out of her. Every last bit of it. Once she came back to life, I started laughing. I thought it was so funny. I can still picture it. It was like it was in slow motion. Jeanie taking the pillow up over her head and behind her and then swinging it back to the front with a crap ton of overweight babysitter force. The pillow hit Sherry with such force that her nightgown flew up to her belly. Her knees didn’t even have time to bend, she was instantly flattened to the ground. I mean flattened. She didn’t crumple to the ground, she just flattened. Facedown flattened. 

Jeanie felt terrible. I could tell. I am pretty sure she thought she would get in trouble from our parents. I think she just gave Sherry extra popcorn and pop and all was good again. I’m pretty sure there were no more pillow fights after that incident. 

Adventures in babysitting. Always a good time. 

today

Today

August 16, 2018

It’s hard to watch

So many emotions

So many feelings

Friends coming over and saying goodbye

Talking about what to pack and what to take

The bittersweet march of time

Kids leaving for college

As another feels the grief of losing a child

Watching things happen

Clearing out a photography studio

What to pack and what to take

Another moving her son across the states 

Everything keeps going. Nothing stops

We have no control. We just do what we do

Friends to the end

Friends forever 

The goodbye tears

The goodbye smiles

The goodbye hugs

Everyone saying goodbye

Goodbye to friends. 

Goodbye to a baby

Goodbye to a great career and hello to a new town

Moving into the future

Living for today 

Looking out to tomorrow

cousins always have your back

I remember them the most. The shorts. The olive green colored polyester. The fringe. The ugliness. The kid clothes. Nothing cool. Everything ugly.

It was summertime. We were at the cousins, the farm and all the farm animals that go along with it. You know, because it was, a farm. I was probably 10 or 11 years old.

We spent most of the day playing. We usually played in the barn, specifically the hayloft. The barn was huge. The hayloft was also huge. We had so much fun, just spending hours and hours hanging out and playing. It seemed like there were always kittens in the hayloft too. We always tried to catch them and pet them. 

Inside the barn there were animals. I have mentioned previously (in another post) how afraid of the animals I was. All of the animals. I was even scared of the chickens. Some chickens are assholes though, so I think that is totally justified. 

In order to get to the hayloft we had to walk through a section of animals. Pigs. On the way up to play, I safely made it through that section, only because the pigs were outside. Up the ladder to the hayloft. Safe and sound. Yay me.

I was wearing olive green shorts. They were disgusting. Stretchy polyester. I cut fringes into them to make them look more cool. It didn’t work. They just looked ridiculous. I really wanted blue jean shorts with fringe. That wasn’t going to happen, so in my mind this was the next best thing. I was also wearing a ratty old striped shirt. The shirt was probably polyester too. Good thing playing with matches wasn’t included on this trip. 

Brad was my cousin. I looked up to him. He was a fun cousin and watched out for me. He knew I was the biggest chicken ever. He never held that against me. He just looked out for us city cousins and spent time with us no matter what. He was a great cousin.

We had been playing in the barn for hours. I had to go pee. I had to go pee, bad. Apparently, people pee outside. How? I wasn’t sure how they did this without getting pee all over themselves. That would have to be perfected at a later date. I wanted to go in the house and go to the bathroom. About this time all the pigs came back in the barn. I was not pleased. In fact, I was petrified. There was no way I could walk through those pigs to get out of the barn. I just couldn’t. I was frozen with fear. That feeling, the fear, the scared, would not go away. I hated it. I couldn’t control it. 

Brad was looking out for me. He knew how afraid I was of those pigs. He said he would get me out of there. A shoulder ride. The perfect solution. It was brilliant. I was on the ladder that led up to the hayloft. Just hanging out. I wasn’t going anywhere. Brad came to me and I climbed on his shoulders. Perfection. Out through the pigs he walked. They were all around him. I couldn’t stand it. I was freaked out. He kept walking. 

We got almost through them and I couldn’t do it. I started to pee. I couldn’t stop. I peed all over his shoulders and the back of his neck. I was mortified. I couldn’t help it though. I felt terrible. 

As soon as we got out of the pigs he put me down. He wasn’t too mad. Everyone teased me, which was to be expected. It’s cousins after all. I ran in the house and changed my clothes. 

I was just glad to be safe from the pigs. But more grateful for a cousin who saved me. Even though I peed on his shoulders, he had my back. Cousins. 

I knew i was addicted

 

Summers were fun for us as kids. We used to go boating all the time. It seemed like we went every weekend. We had an old red and white boat. It was small, but it did the job. We didn’t know any different. It was a ski boat, not a fishing boat. Dad liked to boat and swim and ski. He was a very good water skier. He used to be able to ski with my sister on his shoulders. I don’t recall witnessing this, so maybe it isn’t true. But I always remember hearing it. He tried to teach me to ski. I was terrible. I couldn’t get up. I tried and tried and tried. The next day, I had solid bruises down my thighs. It looked like someone tortured me. It was true. It was called a ski rope. I was so mad I couldn’t ski. I never ever tried again. 

Almost every single time after swimming we got to stop at the A&W and get root beer. Dad got a big mug and we got the little baby frosted mugs. Ice cold. I can still taste it and smell it. The car hop brought the tray out and hooked it onto your car using the window slot. They had kind of a rubber kind of tray liner on the trays. I guess people spilled a lot. Sometimes we would get food too. A hamburger or a hot dog, along with some french fries. Their food was good and the root beer was so refreshing after hours of being out in the sun. It was the highlight of the outing. 

Another thing was good too. I thought about it during the all-afternoon outings. I couldn’t wait to get home. I couldn’t wait to smell the lit match. I couldn’t wait to get that hit of smoke from the cigarette. Something about being in the water all afternoon made me want it. Anyone who has ever been addicted you know what I’m talking about. That initial hit. That immediate calm. That immediate relaxation. That immediate satisfaction. It’s not just cigarettes. This is true for anything that one can become addicted to. Drugs, alcohol, even food. You know how it is. You think it about it. You think about it a lot. You especially think about it when it gets closer and closer to the time you can have it. You actually get a little anxious. You actually get a little excited. It is such a crazy thing to think how we are wired. 

Here is the really crazy part. I was ten years old. How can a ten year old feel this? How can a ten year old even know or comprehend this. I knew I was addicted. I knew I needed to stop. It wasn’t like I was a pack a day smoker or anything, but I was getting hooked. I would take one here and one there from the parents. Not enough that they would ever be able to tell. The hooks were digging in. The hands were wrapping around me tighter and tighter. The smoky rope was tying me up. It was holding me hostage. It was real. The addiction was real. It was scary to think about it.

At that point in time my ten year old brain was realizing that smoking was bad,  that smoking was not cool. It wasn’t good for my body. I turned it around. I stopped. I had to. I didn’t want to be addicted to cigarettes. I didn’t want to stink like smoke. I stopped then and there. 

To think about it now, it’s ridiculous. It actually disgusts me. I am so glad I was able to break away from the addiction. But ten years old!!! WTF!!! It came back again as an adult and I kicked it again. It is getting close to 20 years smoke free. I will stay smoke free the rest of my life. 

The smell of a memory

I took the dropper out of the bottle. The bottle was dark brown with a white label. I put half a dropper full in the palm of my hand. I gently rubbed my hands together and then applied the oil to my face. I was immediately hit with the smell. What is that? I wondered. It was so familiar. I kept smelling it trying to bring the memory back. I looked like a huffer, standing in my bathroom, inhaling the smell over and over again. Ahh, there it was, the memory.

I was back in the Euclid house. I was back to my sister, Wendy’s, paint by number kits. The faces with the big hats and droopy eyes. Very detailed. The little plastic containers of paint with the corresponding numbers were all hooked together by plastic, like a plastic chain gang. The brushes were small and low quality. The cardboard paint board had the numbers all over the board. The canvas was approximately 8×11 in size and had light blue ink. Hours spent on each master piece. Hours spent on the creation. Hoping it looked “real.” Hoping it looked like you actually painted it yourself. Free hand, not line and number hand. Wondering if you could frame it and hang it up in the house. Could it be that real looking? Could it be that good? Hell no! Not even close. 

Wendy did a good job with her paintings. Me, not so much. I couldn’t stay in the lines to save my life. I had to be careful with the paint. It’s like paining your toenails or fingernails. You think you are being super careful and then you get the big ass giant blob of paint on the first stroke and no matter what you try to do to fix it, it doesn’t work. Polish all over the place, same with the paint. I would get so frustrated. Patience didn’t exist for me then. I had a little temper, or stubbornness, take your pick. They are pretty much the same. 

Those kits provided hours of learning and hours of spending time on a craft, even if it was cheating using the numbers to create a painting.  Hours spent learning patience. Hours spent learning the art of patience. I wonder who invented them. What a great idea it was, and a moneymaker no doubt. I always remember Wendy doing stuff like that. She was always sketching in notebooks too. She was creative. She still is. I am so glad we had the opportunity as kids to do those kinds of things. We were lucky. 

The oil I was busy huffing trying to bring back the memory was Rosehip Seed Oil. I wonder if it was a base for the paints. It is so weird though every time I smell it now that is the only thing I can think of. 

It is so interesting how so many memories came alive from just a smell. Life is curious and life is crazy sometimes. 

kid lessons

The scar was small, but wide in the middle. It was about an inch long, left leg, upper thigh. It was faint, yet the memories remained as if it happened yesterday. 

It was the Euclid house. I was around 8 years old. My sister, Wendy, was about 12. I remember the timeframe clearly because it was around the time she had gotten her tonsils out and had been in severe pain. She didn’t recover well. Probably because I stole her Aspergum. The gum she was supposed to chew to relieve the pain in her throat from the tonsils being ripped out. I felt bad. The Aspergum was good though. I liked the orange better than the cherry. 

Everyone was watching TV. I snuck into the bathroom. There it was on the side of the bathtub looking innocent and harmless. I thought it was cool looking. I wondered why I didn’t get to use it and my sister did. It wasn’t fair. She got to do everything. She got to have fun all the time. I didn’t care she was older and possibly, just maybe, that’s why. 

I kept looking at it, contemplating, wondering. I wasn’t sure how to use it. Which way was the right way? I couldn’t tell. I picked it up and looked at it some more. I put my foot up on the bathtub and stood there like I was Captain Morgan. I looked at it again. I held it in my right hand. I was going to do it. I was going to shave my legs. Why should Wendy have all the fun? Because blood everywhere. That’s why. 

Razor in right hand. I didn’t know how to use it. I started about mid thigh and swiped down. Oh no. Everyone knows you swipe up, idiot. I felt the pain go through my body from my toes to the top of my head. The warmth. Then the white. The pain. The blood. The hole in my leg. I knew I was in trouble. I didn’t know what to do. The bleeding would not stop. 

I put the razor back on the tub. I was starting to panic. How was I going to hide what I had just done? I grabbed a t-shirt and tied it around my leg like a tourniquet. I walked back out to the living room and got in the chair. I acted like nothing had happened. I acted innocent, because I was. HA! NOT!

My leg hurt so bad. It was still bleeding and the hole was gaping open. Dad asked me what happened to my leg. I told him nothing. I think mom had been in the kitchen and then peeked in and saw the tourniquet. She asked me what happened. I told her I tried to shave. She went back in the kitchen. 

The scab was horrendous, once it started to heal. Thick and crusty. Disgusting. The constant reminder that I didn’t know what I was doing and that I probably should have quit acting like I did. 

The lesson. The life lesson. The scars of childhood mistakes and mysteries. 

 

would you like some fresh apricots?

I got a message today. “Morning neighbor…would you like some fresh apricots :)” Of course I would. We love apricots. The message was from Mary Jo. She and her husband and daughter live in the Asbury house. The log house. The house Sandy was living in when she got cancer. The house she was living in when I first met her. The house where I spent a lot of time with her. 

The timing of this message was perfect. I am usually not home during the day, but today I stayed home with a miserable headache. 

I hopped in the car and headed over. It felt weird. It was kind of overwhelming. I pulled into the driveway. I hadn’t been on this path in years, since 2003. Everything looked different, but the same. The trees were so much bigger. The garage looked so much smaller. 

I met Mary Jo outside and we talked about how much bigger the trees and shrubs were. We walked around the yard. It was beautiful. She showed me her butterfly garden and her she shed. Everything was beautiful. They have done such a wonderful job caring for the property. So peaceful and so inviting. The sound of the leaves blowing from the wind was heavenly. It was like they were talking to us, telling us their secrets, making sure we knew. 

The apricot tree was HUGE. I barely remember it being there. The branches were so heavy with fruit they were almost hanging to the ground. They looked like they could break at any second. 

It was kind of eerie walking around, remembering. 

The flag pole looked so small now. The trees were tall enough to cover it up. Sandy would always say if the garage door was open and the flag was up, anyone could come and visit. That was their sign. That was their signal. 

Mary Jo asked if I wanted to come inside. I said sure. I would love to. As soon as I walked in, I felt your presence. It went through my whole body. You were there. 

We went in the kitchen. I could see you standing at the counter. It was like you were frozen in time. Making shrimp scampi and having a glass of chardonnay and doing your best Pee Wee Herman laugh. My favorite. 

We went in the bathroom, off the master bedroom. They updated the bathroom and it was gorgeous, so tastefully done.  I remember then, standing at your dresser, going through your jewelry. Trying to decide what you would want to wear to your funeral. Going through your closets, wondering what to do with your clothes. We just didn’t know. I can still smell your perfume, Dona Karen Cashmere Mist. Every time I smell that I remember you. The smell of sandalwood and vanilla gets me. I love that smell.  Mary Jo had some kind of vanilla perfume or body spray on too. I could smell it when she was standing by me and the breeze was coming towards me. 

Next we went up to the loft. My favorite room of the house. I could see Nancy and Kathy and me, sprawled out on the floor as we wrote your obituary. The story of your life. The story of you. Trying to get it right. Trying not to disrespect you. 

We came back downstairs and went back outside and talked some more about the trees and the property. I thank Mary Jo for inviting me over. It was a very special visit.

As I got in the car to head back home, the tears started. I couldn’t help but miss you. The irony set in. I am older now than you were when you passed away. You were only 50. Life is crazy. Life is sad. Life is peaceful. Life is beautiful. Sandy, you are missed.