As these holidays approach, I'm acutely sensitive to the irrevocable passage of time ...
This year December brings with it a depression tagged with my name and address -- and I've not wanted to write lest the very act of recording those feelings would embed them hopelessly in my psyche -- never to be removed.
To the extent that there is inevitably some semblance of the old self-fulfilling prophecy connected with it, the news of Sparky's death (Lily Mae's canine companion) gave substance to feelings that I'd been trying to deny for weeks. Lily's grief was contagious and became hopelessly attached to mine -- grief that may have gone unrecognized without the stirrings of empathy for her tragic loss. It would have remained a disembodied sense of loss and sadness without cause -- but now could have a name and rise to be identified and owned.
Heading into the Christmas season has always involved troubled waters and denial. I do miss those who are no longer here. I do miss my parents, my sisters, my eldest son, old friends long gone, and during the holiday season most of all.
Yesterday may have seen a final break in the darkness. December 17th was the birthday of Mel, my teenage friend and first husband; and the father of my children. It is also the 20th anniversary of my father's death. And then Bill, my second husband and partner who also died within the same year (1987) as did the other two significant men in my life; Mel and Dad.
But now that fateful anniversary day has passed and I've survived -- and maybe now I can return to my blessings -- of which there are so many.
And, no, we've not yet succeeded in rounding up the lumber with which to continue the work on the Lily Mae Jones Gardening Project -- and yes, the kids are still showing up on the weekends -- to see what comes next. The mulch pile has grown as the Department of Public Works continues to make truckload deliveries to the site. Not sure how long simply shoveling that pile around will satisfy those young people, but maybe all is not lost.
There is also the disturbing probability of staff changes in the city's great youth program, YouthBuild, in light of our having gone through another election cycle and the changes that inevitably follow. There will be the usual political appointments that are in the interest of the newly-elected, and which are seen as more in keeping with changing agendas and priorities. Adult leadership will be impacted by "process" and it may take months to get the rhythm back -- meanwhile such programs are interrupted as new alliances are formed in the civic political infrastructure.
A local photographer (after reading the story here) emailed this week to say that he would like to visit the site take some photos and, just maybe, he can draw some interest to the project before it's too late. He has connected with Lily and Lena, and they'll meet sometime early next week to see what can be done.
Meanwhile, I've continued to conduct bus tours in my capacity as "interpreter" and accept speaking assignments in and out of the community -- and still find them rewarding experiences -- though the reason defies understanding. I'm surely not an historian by training, and am subjecting my "tourists" to what is clearly my own oral history, though that seems to be pretty effective and I still end each 3-hour tour with a busload of new friends and feelings of having "connected" beyond my generation. Maybe that's more than enough to expect in these waning years.
More later; meanwhile I need to meditate on today's Senate's repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" for my late gay son, Rick, who, regrettably, didn't live long enough to benefit from a greater acceptance from a world that proved too cruel to continue to exist in.
Meditation in this case will consist of sitting wrapped up to my chin in a blanket before the fireplace missing him, and all those dear ones whose lives ended before my own.
Now if only I could get up the courage to go out and find that perfect tree and begin to unpack the ornaments with each memory attached ... .
Oh, yes, then I'll give a call to Kokee Amanda Reid, my granddaughter whose birthday was December 16th -- more than enough reason to be aware of the passage of time and the value in appreciating each life as it unfolds or passes on in the irresistible march through the decades into eternity.
Me? Oh, I'm still shopping around for some Faustian bargain that may match my tenure on the earth with the 30 years my banker gave me on my mortgage!