This has been a weirdly emotional week for me. I’m usually not a very sentimental person. I’ve even been accused of being a cold-hearted bitch. Granted it was by a bitter and drunk ex-boyfriend, it still counts. But an unusual confluence of events occurred this past week which culminated in an evening consisting of moments of complete joy, waves of melancholy, an extra large dose of nostalgia and some yelling.
My husband is out of town, something that rarely happens. His absence has its pros and cons. I’ve had to be in charge of the cooking, something I am not particularly good at which is why the kids and I had takeout one night and went out to eat two other nights. I haven’t had to wash any of his smelly chicken work clothes but I also haven’t had my built-in bed warmer, which is particularly annoying because…
We’re experiencing another cold front here in
Plus, my mom is in North Carolina this week helping to move my 93 year-old grandmother out of her home and in to an assisted living facility. The same facility where I recently ate dark meat tuna salad with relish on Ritz crackers (My Visit With Gaggy) while my brother had a plain, non-threatening green salad. I’ve been thinking about my mom all week because I know this move is a very emotional one for her. It is for me and I’m not even there.
And, in preparation for what I hope is to be an amazing experience next week involving my first grade teacher, her famous trumpet-playing son, my mother, my saxophone-playing daughter and some excellent jazz music, I took down the extra-large bin stored high on my closet shelf. The bin is filled with all sorts of mementos from my youth: old papers, letters, pictures, etc. My daughter and I went through the bin together and had a lot of fun talking about all of the items in it. Her curiosity grew with each thing she looked at and she was full of questions.
There were many old pictures including a picture of me and my brother, around the ages of 9 and 10, with my great grandmother who was known as Great Gaggy as well as tons of photos from sorority and fraternity formals in college. We also found pictures of my past boyfriends whose names my daughter had heard and she liked being able to put names with faces. (She is entering the “I like boys” phase in life and wants to know about my first kiss, my first boyfriend but thankfully, at least not yet, my first sexual experience.) And I found what is my new favorite picture of my grandfather, who passed away over 3 years ago, smiling face-to-face with me when I was pregnant with my now 13 year-old son, in my parents’ backyard.
There was also lots of jewelry, costume and otherwise, in the bin. A shell ring on a leather cord that I got in first grade from my first boyfriend Davis. My dad’s Phi Ep fraternity pin, with his initials on the back, that I didn’t even know I had. And tons of jewelry that I got for my Bat Mitzvah including a double-chained bracelet with a gold square in the middle with my initial and diamond chip. And gold serpentine hoop earrings the likes of which I’ve never seen since. 1978 must have been a good year for jewelers in
And the letters. There was every letter that my mom wrote me over the seven summers that I went to sleep-away camp, as a camper, CIT and counselor. Letters from an early childhood friend who moved away when we were in elementary school. We were pen pals for at least six years. Then the letters just stopped and now, even with all of the technology we have, I can’t find her on the Internet. And every letter from the
But for some reason, what affected me the most was going through the stack of RSVPs to my first wedding and reading the responses. Over 100 of them. Very formal ones from the family and friends of my first husband, repeating the details of the invitation itself. And the very informal ones from my side, funny and endearing. My friend requesting the escort of my cat Atticus since her husband was unable to attend. My grandmother using the 3.5 X 5 inch card to plan the details of the dinner she was throwing for me and my groom. And my real-to-me aunt and uncle saying they will be the first to arrive at the wedding and the last to leave.
Reading the cards also reminded me of all of the people who were invited who are now dead. The wedding was 15 years ago. It’s just natural that people will die. Great-aunts and great-uncles. A grandparent. But not my first husband’s brother who died way too young after a long battle with cancer. And not his best friend who died on 9/11 in one of the
And as I was sitting on my bedroom floor, thinking about all of the love and the hope written on those response cards which proved to not be enough, thinking about my grandmother and her 69 year marriage to my grandfather, hoping my mom was doing okay with the move, and missing my (current) husband, I snapped.
What pushed me over the edge was this: my kids were fighting like they’ve been doing for the past six months. Not fist fighting but that verbal nit picking, seeing who can annoy the other the most, then come whining to me. On any normal day, I can’t stand it. And on this day, well, I yelled at them. And then I cried. Which put an end to their fighting. They don’t like to see me cry. It doesn’t happen very often but when it does, it makes them uncomfortable. But then the two of them sat down on the floor with me and we talked about why I was upset and their empathy was more than comforting.
So, now the week is coming to an end and I’m sitting here happily looking forward. My mom gets home today and I’ll get to hear all about her trip. I get to see my former teacher and her son next week and introduce them to my daughter. And I’m eagerly awaiting my husband’s return tonight from his guys’ vacation on the eve of the most Hallmark holidays of them all, Valentine’s Day. I missed my sexy, good-cooking, bed-warming husband more than he knows. When he gets home tonight, I think I’ll have to show him!