When I was a little girl and my mother and my brother and I lived in a little house in Roseland, Florida which my grandfather had built for us on the other side of his property, he would come over every evening to check on us and would announce his arrival with a two-tone whistle. As close as I can tell with an old, very out of tune piano, it was sort of a B-flat, A-flat thing. And that has been our family whistle for as long as I can remember. Mr. Moon uses it when he comes home and I use it when I am trying to locate him in the yard and I guess that Lily has adopted it as well because when Owen shows up at the house now and bursts out of his car seat and runs up to the door, he sings it. He can't whistle yet but he whoo-hoos it with his voice, those exact tones and it charms my heart.
"You always excited when you see me," he tells me.
"I am," I say, as I gather him into me for a hug and a kiss.
I saw Kathleen yesterday and her father has recently died and as such things go after a death, there has been some trouble among the siblings as to possessions and the will and such. It is a cliche, but a true one, that there will be trouble after a death and I'm sure it's age-old resentments and bitterness, disappointments and grief, all tossed together in a funky salad of divisiveness, just at the very time you'd think a family would come together.
And it's always a bit of a shock, I think, and new alliances are redrawn and established and old resentments are sometimes almost magically resolved and it never goes as one would have predicted. This is the way it has been with me and my siblings since my mother's death and it is a heart-tearing thing.
Kathleen has walked away from the whole thing in her family's case and I have pretty much done the same in my situation. The siblings to whom it all matters the most hold on to it all and the siblings to whom it just doesn't matter that much release it and in my case, that has felt right and correct. It's simply not worth it to me. Mother drew up her will the way she wanted it and that is that and I have great hope in my heart that eventually all of this will be resolved and we can return to the relationships we had which are, in my opinion, what is important above all.
I wonder what will happen after my death. I would hope with all of my heart that my children will be able to amicably divide whatever possessions I leave and that they will all indeed want some of them. I know it would make a lot of sense to make a list and assign things now but really- who wants to do that? And in every parent's heart I would think that the idea of handing this over to one child and that over to another is just too daunting a task. Will this one feel short-changed? Was it that child who really wanted this piece of jewelry, that picture, this piece of furniture?
When my children were little (and sometimes even not so little) they would hold something of mine and say, "Can I have this when you die?" and I would always say, "Of course!"
It amused me that they would even have these thoughts and I would wish that it would always be so easy, so unencumbered with emotion and memory and weight.
Ah, but life is so messy here on earth from the very first gush of amniotic fluid and blood until the final breath is taken and that is just the way it is and will always be. But no matter how things shake down after that final-breath moment, some things are just going to be passed down.
The genes, for one thing, both the good ones and the bad.
And things like the family whistle. I wonder if my grandfather's father also announced his arrival back at the house after he came in from the fields of his farm in Pennsylvania with that same two-tone whistle. I wonder if Owen, when he is a grown man, will use it and his children, too, should he have some. If, of course, he ever learns to whistle, which he probably will.
These are the things which no one puts in a will, no one can even argue about. Everyone gets the genes they get, everyone will use the family whistle. We will all fold towels the way our mothers did, we will all respond to certain things in certain ways which were set in place before our memory was able to take hold.
There is no dictating these things. And that thought brings me both comfort and a tiny bit of despair because there is no doubt that I have passed down things to my children which I would have rather not but in some cases, could not possibly have prevented.
Well. So it is.
It is a beautiful day in Lloyd again. Still way chillier than I can ever remember for this time of year. The chickens are so very ready to be let out of the coop and I need to take a walk and go to the grocery story and I am thinking about all of these things. The water heater appears to be failing and must be attended to. The sheets on the bed that Jessie and Vergil will sleep on need to be washed. Plans need to be made for their visit. The world hurtles on and this is my tiny, small part of it which I attend to and when I am gone, someone else will take that job over. Or not, and yet the world will not halt in its hurtling, the stars will not fall from the sky. Someone else will wear my rings, someone, I hope, will touch the pages of my old beloved copy of Little Women before putting it on their shelf, someone else will cook in my skillets and someone will look in a mirror at some point and see my face looking back at them.
And when they go away from their own home and come back, they will whistle two tones which will alert whoever is waiting for them that they are home, their arms perhaps full of whatever they have gathered in the world to bring back to that place where they live, where their own loved ones wait for them. "I'm home," the B-flat, A-flat song will announce. "I'm alive, I am here, I am home."
And someone will be excited to hear that song, that simplest of two notes song because it means that someone they love is there, eager for a hug, a kiss, a welcome-back-in to where you are loved and where you belong.
Good morning, y'all.