It's Sunday morning with the saints and sinners, assorted families large and small, attending Mass at The Sacred Heart Chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, located across one parking lot and a single lane street from my home. I find comfort in the comings and goings of the church, and plan to start attending once I feel capable of the up and down sitting, standing and kneeling I know from being raised Roman Catholic. I have several songs stuck in my head, you all know how that is, one being...Let all the heavens and earth rejoice and sing on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day, in the morning...
Sorry about that. Don't think of red geraniums to forget that song. I've tried; it doesn't work although I went so far as to buy two red geraniums, even planted them in concrete containers at the front corners of our property where in the past I planted other flowers mainly for the enjoyment of people walking past, my neighbors to the left or right, depending on your point of view, my neighbors across the street and all the churchgoers. I am merely the gardener according to the gospel of geraniums or according to my sons and the happy girlfriend who notice these things I do and refrain from doing, as if I'm some wayward teenager.
The other song fragment I have stuck in my head is...The green grass grows all around, all around, and the green grass grows all around...which I often sing aloud right after the Christmas one even though it's Spring. I guess my brain is still moving back and forth in wonder about still functioning, albeit differently, since my four hospital stays which started back before Christmas. The doctors all say I wasn't THAT oxygen deprived, but it's not their brains behaving strangely. Again, I apologize for a song about grass but offer the solution I tried which was to buy an enormous Boston Fern and hang it in my parlor. This works, but only as I enter the room because the fern is rather dramatic and I hope I don't kill it.
I'm not even dressed for the day and the doorbell rings. Peeking through a cracked stain glass window my husband made one Christmas for me, toiling away in pipe smoke and obscurity in the old basement with unsafe steps, boxes and more boxes of now vintage canning jars which the three watchers enjoy drinking from, skeptical of my stories that once upon a time I actually grew cucumbers to make pickles, tomatoes to make sauce and blackberries to make jam. A package is cheerfully delivered by Amazon Prime, a frequent occurrence at this address. My son appears from thin air and holds the box with joy, a new graphics card, and my head is filled with computer words like compatible, motherboard, and some number of gigabytes.
Unfortunately, it's only a brief respite from songs stuck in my head...Moon River, wider than a mile, I'm crossing you in style, one day...good thing I have three hanging baskets of Mille Fleurs, two orange and one pink at both sides of the house and one underneath a tall blue spruce planted fifty years ago by my youngest stepdaughter, a seedling from school. It's been raining almost every day but when the winds come hanging baskets dry out and need attention from me, the resident and constant gardener who had no say in a Memorial Butterfly Garden planned by my husband's daughters at his former place of work, an Environmental Education Center five minutes drive from here. Good thing I had yet another song up my sleeve...Oh, to live on Sugar Mountain, with the barkers and the colored balloons...
My sons, daughter and I were invited back in mid-December to set aside the date with no mention of other guests, refreshments or a family luncheon afterwards the details of which I found out from several strange phone calls from his schizophrenic sister in New Jersey and his confused sister in California who kept asking to speak with her brother, seemingly unaware he was dead and going on about "a workshop we were all attending", which I finally put two and two together, her being the same age her mother and my husband both were diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I relayed my concern as well as a brief account of my health status to the daughters.
There was a terse reply to which I responded by boxing up all things they had requested three days after his death, ...Just a box of rain, wind and water, believe it if you need it, If not then pass it on... with books, "things from before YOU were part of the picture", all the cards and letters they sent him after the divorce as well as things he wrote or drew, old photographs, the ex-wife's divorce demands, as much as I had the energy for over the course of two days. My son and his helpful girlfriend carried eight heavy boxes or maybe it was ten, leaving them the day before at the EEC. Doing this was healing, exhausting, amusing and sad. I hand wrote a letter wishing them all deep peace ...Peace like a river ran through the city, we were starry-eyed, we were satisfied... and hope that they would finally know how much they were loved. I got no feedback for weeks until one strained sentence arrived in an email that made me glad I'd decided not to attend because even when my husband was alive, his side of the family never accepted me.