Thursday, January 31, 2013

This morning dawned clear and colder, all traces of last night's storm merely branches and sticks and puddles on the ground and the tiny birds and the cardinals too are at the feeder, busy with the business of eating and it's supposed to be the day we head over to the island but for several reasons, I don't think we're going.
One, it's going to be cold. Really cold. The seas are six to eight feet today and that would make a miserable, wet crossing. And Lily called- Owen started puking at midnight so I just have a strong feeling that the Mer and the Bop are going to be coming down with this mess too and I don't want to be sick at the island. God knows I've kissed those boys too many times to think that I won't get sick.
I'm so torn. I want to be there, right this second, and that's not possible. The work involved in getting everything together and taking the boat and crossing and unloading is overwhelming to me right now. And I do not feel good. I ache. I ache everywhere and when I woke up I began to cry.

I'm tired, I guess. Just the thought of having to ask our neighbor to feed our dogs and let them out and to open the henhouse in the morning and shut it up at night is too much. I can't. I just can't.

And there are still so many things to do. I want and do not want but must have a meeting with all of the staff who were on duty the evening my mother died at the health center of the assisted living. It is always going to haunt me, the way my mother died. She collapsed at physical therapy and was unresponsive and her pulse was thready. That's what the nurse said when she called me. And then she apologized because she knew that Mother was DNR but the form was not there, not in her papers at the health center and so by law they had to try and resuscitate her and call the ambulance and she said in another call (how many calls were there in our desperate dash to get to the hospital before the ambulance?) that Mother had regained consciousness and yet, when we did get to the hospital, she was so obviously miles down the path towards her death, and why didn't that nurse call over to the floor where Mother's room was, just a few hundred yards away to get someone to verify that yes, Mother's DNR form was on the back of her door in the clear plastic folder where it was kept so that she would not be coded, would not be resuscitated and why wasn't that form in her papers, her chart and I want to hear what happened. 
No. It wouldn't do one bit of good to know but I want to hear. From the nurse, the physical therapist, from everyone involved.

I'm just so tired. And I hurt. And it's probably best to stay right here and rest, whatever that means. And it's not so bad here. It's not so bad at all.

The pink smear of the redbud tree reaching up to blue sky. Elvis trying to court tiny Miss Baby.

I swear to you, I just went back and read what I have written here in the past hour and it's like I don't even recognize any of it. Am I losing my mind? Am I dreaming? 

Maybe I'm just getting sick. Whatever. It would not be a good time to go to the island. I think everything has finally caught up with me and today I need to rest. Just that. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I went out of the house today not wearing the black nunnightgown. I wore a blue dress with a blue linen shirt over it. I cannot say that I looked good but I can say with certainty that I wore blue, not black. And not that specific dress.
First time in three weeks.
I feel this is somewhat monumental.

And The Rain Falls Down

It is raining as if all the rain we haven't gotten in the past few months has suddenly decided to fall in one fell swoop. It is raining drumbeats. It is raining rivers. it is raining sloshing big slashes of water.
And then, even as I write, it settles down a little.
But still, it is a hard rain.

A long day today. I got my Owen boy and reassured Lily that Gibson would live. She made the mistake of consulting the Dr. Google and websites gravely assured her that a child Gibson's age with vomiting should be taken to the ER. Well. Maybe not. He is a big, sturdy, juicy child and wasn't running a fever and didn't have diarrhea and although he certainly wasn't his usual happy self, he was fine enough. But she took him to the doctor anyway, her own pediatrician, and I understand that perfectly. She needed to put her mind at ease and it was put at ease, mostly because as soon as they got to the doctor's office, Gibson perked up and appeared to be normal. I told her this is always the way it goes. The little boy has the virus his daddy has had and although I hope with all my heart that it only affects the two of them, I would not be surprised if it didn't strike some more of us.

Ah. The rain has definitely calmed down but now the wind is blowing again- it has been blowing all day, great gusts of it, pruning the dead branches from my trees- and I can feel the colder air coming in already. I love weather, the way it can change like that. Like a snap of the fingers. Like the quick fast wink of a boy with his arm around another woman across a bar. Well, as I recall. Back when I looked at boys across a bar.

After Lily and Jason took Gibson to the doctor they went to Publix where a car left in drive rolled back and smacked into their car, trapping them in the space where they were. They had to wait until the owner came out for the car to be moved, for things to be settled. It has not been her day or Jason's either.

But while all of that was going on, Owen and I played and hung out and walked to the post office and ate snacks and we had several celebrations, which seems to be a new word of Owen's. One for the chickens when he threw them a bowl of peanuts and one for the goats when we fed them leaves.
Celebrations require food, of course.
Before Owen fed the peanuts to the chickens he sat on the back steps and cracked and ate a good many of them himself. He did not like the red papery covering so I showed him how to squeeze the nuts which releases them from it. And now he knows. It was a good day for us, the boy and me. Nothing at all special or out of the ordinary but he learned about peanuts, we discussed the fact that not only baby cows are called calves but also baby elephants and baby whales. We walked home from the post office on the railroad tracks and he brought home a rock. A big deal for a small boy. And he helped me make a bed and he stood on the step-ladder and handed me the clothes from the dryer. He is a good helper, that one. When he feels like it, at least.

When I took him home, I made up short songs about subjects of his choosing. Goats, chickens, cows, horses, trees, the road. I remember doing this with my own kids. I wonder if they remember. I delivered him to an exhausted mama and daddy and I felt guilty that I didn't keep him for the night but I knew this storm was coming and Mr. Moon is going to a basketball game tonight and I had no heart to be here alone with a three-year-old and no power and I can't believe we still have power at this point and I have the dorky headlight in my pocket for the moment it goes out.

My god. I bet the temperature has dropped ten degrees since I started writing this.

After I dropped off Owen I went and picked up my husband who needed a ride to the car-rental place where his car was because he always takes a rental car down to auction. All-in-all, I was in the car for an hour and a half or so but it was fine. I'm listening to a good book on CD and the rain held off until I got here and got the chickens shut up and the cat fed and I am inside and cozy and all is well. And there are leftovers from last night and I think I might make a bed of salad and put them all on top and eat that. It sounds wonderful to me. I just want to sleep tonight and sleep hard.

I'm tired. We're all tired. The whole world is tired at night. We are tired from worry and from care and from physical labor and from mental tasks and from the small, tiny things and the huge, seemingly insurmountable ones too. Sometimes I think the simple act of hanging on as our planet hurtles through space exhausts us, the very pull of gravity taking its toll every day. Sleep is one of the things I am most grateful for in this life.

Let's all get some good rest, okay?

Because tomorrow will hold whatever it holds and we will need to be rested for it.


Journal Entry

We just weren't feeling the Jr. yesterday and May texted Jessie for us to come and eat lunch where she was working so we did that. Everyone had just about cleared out of the Mockingbird by the time we got there and we had the place to ourselves which made not only for fine dining but for dancing opportunities as well.
See above for evidence.

After lunch we were going to go to a park but somehow, do not ask me, ended up at the mall. It was fine. I was with my grandsons.

Owen and I are going through an especially good stage together right now. He is starting to really "get" humor and he also humors me and I love that. "Mer-Mer listens to me," he said yesterday. And I do. Look- when you have little children at home you can't possibly listen to their every word but when you spend a few hours with them, you sure can. So I listen. And I respond. And I spray men's cologne on him and I tease him and ask him if I can buy him a dress to wear and he gives me that Owen look like, "Oh Mer-Mer. You are insane."
We were talking about the wedding at lunch and someone asked him if he was going to dance. He said, "No. I don't want to dance. I wish I was little again."
Lily pointed out that this may come from the way we all get so excited when Gibson dances. Baby dancing is about the cutest thing in the world. She's probably right and if this is true it's the closest Owen comes to showing any jealousy about his baby brother.
We walked through the mall and Jessie shopped for a little lip stain for her wedding and then we went and got coffee and let the boys play in the little play area for kids. It was fun. Gibson can crawl through the crawl-through things and Owen made several little friends and flipped on and off the giant whatever-those-things-are and at one point, he and I laid down together on the cushy matted floor and looked up at the clouds through the skylights. They were moving fast and it was a lovely moment.
When we were leaving the mall, Owen was holding my hand and I said, "You know, the Beatles wrote a song about holding hands."
"Right," he said.
I began to recite the lyrics to him to "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and after each verse, he would begin to do a sort of popping rap which somehow fit in beautifully as if he were saying, "Sure. I know that song. I'll do this part." And it was wonderful and we held hands and I never want to forget that.

Ever since Jessie got here we've been discussing going down to Spring Creek for a meal. Spring Creek is a little village at a springhead down at the coast and finally, last night we went. Mr. Moon got home from auction and Lily and May drove down and met us and Jessie drove the four of us down there in her daddy's big truck down the long, straight dark roads with deer on the shoulders and it was a very fine thing. We know the owners and they've owned the place since 1977 and everything you eat there was caught that day. "Tell me what you ate," the man said, "And I'll tell you who caught it." What we ate was everything from stone crab claws to mullet to oysters to shrimp to tomato pie to hushpuppies to blue crab claws. You just can't beat that. The thing that the kids remember about the place from their childhoods is the salad. They bring out big bowls of iceberg lettuce, cut into wedges with a few slices of cucumber, some cherry tomatoes and green onions. You serve yourself and there are huge jars of croutons on the table and bacon bits and wine bottles filled with the house dressing which is white, creamy, and delicious. A child's idea of salad for sure and it's still good.
Here's a picture of some of the Spanish moss hanging from the trees outside the place last night.

It was creepy and dark and beautiful and I could smell the spring flowing into the Gulf right there.

This morning I've had a tramp through the woods on a logging trail that Vergil discovered Sunday morning on his nine mile run. Jessie and he were going to go walk on it and they persuaded me to go too. I don't usually like to walk with other people and in fact, I hate it, but this was rather glorious. We got caught by brambles and I slipped crossing a little creeklet and my foot got wet but so what? Vergil found an old glass gallon jug and I found what I think is a fox skull.

While we were walking, Lily called. Jason threw up again and now Gibson is too. Jason, after throwing up, went to work and Lily's supposed to go to work later but of course she wants to stay home with her son. Bless his little heart. He's never been sick before like this and he's sad. It's a gray heavy day and we're supposed to get rain and now my grandson is sick and poor Lily. Well, that's life isn't it? One day is clear and beautiful and everyone feels great and the next day the sky is like dirty, heavy mattress stuffing and the baby is sick.

Jessie and Vergil are getting ready to leave. They want to stop in Omega, Georgia at the Jesus y Maria Taqueria and I don't blame them. I'd stop there too. I've written about the place before and it's one of my favorite things about driving from here to Asheville. It's going to be odd when they're gone. It's been about fifty years, it seems, since Mr. Moon and I were alone.
I texted him yesterday and said, "Could you locate my boyfriend and tell him that I would like him to take me to Dog Island this weekend?" I think that made him happy. He said he could. It's supposed to get cold but be clear and so we can walk on the beach and the bay and in the pines and we can play cards and snuggle and make good food and enjoy ourselves being all alone.
I believe we'll remember how to do that.

Two weeks today since my mother died and I'm okay. Also? We still have ham.

I should get out and plant those palms and the camellia since it's going to rain.

This is life. This is my life, anyway. Babies and Beatles, night drives to the coast, day walks through the swamp. Fox skulls and red-winged blackbirds, crab claws and rooster calls and tomato pie and sometimes we cry but mostly we laugh at ourselves and each other and with each other and sometimes we lie on our backs at the mall and watch the clouds blow by and oh, by the way, here's a picture from the ones I took of Jessie and Vergil yesterday.

Love. That too. 

Happy Wednesday, y'all. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Mind Does Wander From Here To There

Well it's another day as it always is and it's gray again and warm but supposed to rain tomorrow and then get chillier and we need the rain. We need it so badly.

I have been looking up hotels in Cozumel again. Not for any planned trip but just as a sort of sweet, comforting porn and my searches have gone from tiny, very cheap places in town like Pepita  where we have actually stayed before and Hotel Mary Carmen, where we have not, but we have walked past it a thousand times and the open lobby and beautiful plants always seem so charming, to Villablanca which is two miles from town and I could just stay there all the time with the beach in front of it, the jungle behind, the gardens surrounding it. I've never stayed there either but it has always intrigued me. I could walk to town easy if I wanted to and of course I would want to but it's all a fantasy. I think of going by myself. Could I do that? I know, I know. I've discussed this before.

It's just a way to escape, you know, this online looking, this reminder that Mexico is there, that water, that sky, those people. My real fantasy would be a tiny self-contained little apartment or villa, right on the beach but smothered in jungle, far enough from anything to feel as if I were alone on the planet but really, I would want to be alone there with my husband.

Ah well, it's all nothing, just mind-dancing. Today I think I'll spend with Jessie and Lily and the boys. There is talk of the Jr. Museum which has an old Florida Cracker farmstead which, by the way, is not as old as this house where I live but there is also a Bengal Tiger in residence at the moment, although not at the farmstead. That would be wrong. There are horses and goats and pigs and cows and chickens and turkeys and boardwalks over the habitats of bears and foxes and gators and so forth. Always a good time. North Florida funk just like Lloyd only with a playground and sure, why not? Let's go there. Let's go anywhere. I just need to get out of my overalls, into the world at least a few miles, out of this silly head of mine.

And maybe soon, maybe this weekend even, Mr. Moon and I will head over to the island which is as North Florida as you can get, or at least the west coast of the northern part of it where we do indeed have a tiny villa, or, to be more exact, a shack, and it is not smothered in jungle but is set back in the pines with the bay in front of us and the egrets and the herons and the osprey and the eagles and where we would be as alone as anyone could wish, just the two of us.

Well. Time to get moving and into a reality. Jessie and Vergil want a picture taken for their wedding website and the chickens want out and I need to shake the just-done-full-moon dust and fully be here now which, if that's such an important and spiritual thing to do, why do we humans have the minds we do which can take us places both real and imagined so incredibly easily? I do not know.

As I have said so many times before, I don't know shit.

Good morning.

Love...Ms. Moon

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Slog And A Trudge

It's been one of those days.
The investment woman never called but I got a lot done here. I walked and hung clothes on the line and watered plants and washed the dogs and threw away the Tic-Tacs and went through the jewelry one last time. I gave the chickens fresh water and I have picked arugula for our supper's salad. The venison and onions and carrots and potatoes and green beans are simmering away in the crock pot. The clothes are all put away. I swept the dust and dirt from my floors and I have washed the dishes more than once.  Jessie took some of Mother's things and I have thrown a few more things away and I've put the old photo albums in the library along with my own which are not many and are poorly kept and hardly labeled. I am not good at old photos. I think I just have such a strong feeling that in a generation, no one will care who these people are and if I don't want to look at pictures of myself as a baby, to see what my father looked like, why should anyone else? But perhaps my brother will. They will be here for him should he ever care to come and get them along with his childhood coin collection which for some reason I have custody of and the family Bible which was sent to me when my father died and which I'd like him to have.

It's all such wearying work.

But. On a day like today when I was not so good in my head, it is good to just trudge and to slog through it. To get rid of more things, to make the most mundane of decisions, to wash and fold and put away, to sweep up huge piles of dust and to empty trash cans, to peel carrots and swish the emerald green of arugula though clean water, to walk some miles, to untangle chains from a jewelry box, to know that tomorrow, no matter what it brings, will be a day of a little more order and a little less crap.

I am not now nor have ever been the sort of woman who can say fuck-it-all to life and lay on the couch and watch TV and this, I am sure, is something I got from my mother and I can no more deny it than I can deny that I got her sunspot-prone skinned.

And so it goes and so it will go and the chickens are shut up and the cat fed and Mr. Moon is out of town for business and I will sleep alone in our bed and think, hopefully, about times ahead of us in which we can be Mary and Glen and not specifically Mother and Father or Mer-Mer and Boppy or anything but two people who met and mated and married so long ago and who still, no matter whether the days are good or bad, remember that. Honor that. Take pleasure in that.

When I was kissing him good-bye today when he was leaving, Jessie was waiting to kiss him as well and she said, "You don't have to make out," and yet, I know it gives her peace in her soul that we linger over good-byes, just as it gives me peace in my soul to have seen her and her fella kissing outside as I talked on the phone, she wearing her grandmother's pink bed jacket over her T-shirt, tied with a ribbon around the neck that I gave her today, the one I think Mother got when she had Chuck so that she could be dressed properly when she got home from the hospital with her baby.

There is so much more I could have done today but there is so much less I could have done too. I am not saying that any of it really matters a damn but I did what I could and I am not going to give one thought to that which is left undone. There will be time, I feel certain and even if there weren't, who would care?

Now Where Did I Put That Machete?

I feel so muddled. I feel like everything is just absolutely out of control although really, nothing is in the whole scheme of things. It's just...oh hell. I don't know.

I do the most basic of necessary things. Laundry and cooking and bed making. And everything else seems to escape me. I have two palm trees and a camellia to plant. The woman who ran Mother's financial investments is supposed to call me about all of that today. Why in god's name am I executor of this will? I have no knowledge about any of this stuff. My mother's purse is in my kitchen. What do you do with someone's driver's license after she dies? Her Tic-Tacs? I have a dead woman's Tic-Tacs in my kitchen. How can I execute a will when I can't even figure out what to do with her Tic-Tacs? I feel like we will be finding her Kleenex for years to come, randomly scattered in strange places, revealed like ancient Aztec artifacts. I need to put all the pictures that no one else wants in one place so that when I die, someone else will have to deal with them.
Same for the newspaper clippings.
I had forgotten that in the eighth grade I was the Chaplain of the Future Homemakers of America at Dennison Jr. High in Winter Haven, Florida.
Chaplain? Really?
Yes. I was. There is aging photographic evidence of this. Did I lead people in prayer?

Tic-Tacs and insurance cards and the driver's license and social security card and Kleenex and the bundle of papers from my mother's divorce from my father in 1960 and her investments and The Last Will And Testament and pictures and pictures and pictures and an unfinished embroidery project and the jewelry no one wants and her remains in a box in a bag in a drawer. Death Certificates and obituaries and pictures my uncle painted and the hawks are going crazy and yes, the pecans are starting to leaf and the broccoli have all bolted and the garden is knee-high in weeds and it's all out of control, I'm out of control, I lost the bookmark in the library book I am trying to finish reading and so what? I read four pages, forget what I've read, it's not a good book anyway. The back of it promised steaming hot sex and no, it's not that Shades of Gray book. I haven't slipped that far and the sex is not that steaming. I just looked down at my knuckle and realize I knocked it on something, there's a big chunk of it missing. When did this happen and why doesn't it hurt? Big wad of dead, useless skin protruding from it.
I must have just done it when I fed the chickens.

I have the laundry running. I am waiting for the phone to ring. I have taken two backstraps out of the freezer to possibly cook for tonight. The palms and camellia are waiting to be planted and I do not know where to plant them. My mind swirls with stuff and more stuff, memories and stuff, why did my mother do this? What was she thinking? What do I do with her purse?

Some answers are easy. Throw it away. Throw away the Tic-Tacs, of course, and the Kleenex too. Throw them away. When my mother was dying the nurse put a box of hospital Kleenex on the bed beside her hand, not for her, she was done crying or having her life-long sinus problems, but for me because I was her daughter and my mother was dying and maybe I'd need Kleenex and really, I didn't, I was barely crying at all, humming Sister Morphine to myself, wondering how long to wait until I called the nurse in when she'd died, thinking, everything is different now and how, HOW will that go?
I think about how when I was in counseling, my beloved therapist would hand me the box of Kleenex and boy oh boy, I needed it then. The tears just about never ended but when my actual real mother died I didn't need the Kleenex at all, probably because I damn-well grieved the mother I never had for years a long time ago and I keep wondering if they just threw that box away when they cleaned the room. Probably.

It was two weeks ago today that I saw my mother alive for the last time, truly, and talked to her. I keep thinking of that and how horrible it was. How I left and she was saying, "I'm so nauseous," and I think I said, "I love you, I'm sorry, I have to go."

There was a box of Kleenex on the tray over her bed along with the phone, the two cups with their bendy straws pointed towards her face.
Something else, I'm sure. And because of what I am coming to believe was my mother's illness, I can't even really discuss these things with my brothers because she was such a different woman to each of us and the way she was with me was not the way she was with them, it was as if there were four of her, one for each of us and it's impossible for us to have any agreement on who she was and therefore mourning her in any way together is never going to happen and I don't really know how to mourn her or even if I want to and that, that is something I wish I could talk to my brothers about but it's shameful and they wouldn't understand anyway. And even if they did, do, they probably won't admit it. And it's impossible for me to know the way they feel, perhaps so sad that their mother is gone.

I wish they'd come get her Tic-Tacs, her purse, her Kleenex, her ashes, the pictures, the boxes, the Last Will and Testament, the divorce papers. I am sure that each of us feels as if we know, we alone know, the true Mother. I keep thinking of the blind men and the elephant.
I keep feeling like I got the hind quarters.
And I want to know what the eyelashes felt like.

Or maybe not. Maybe I just don't care.

On my good days, I don't care in a good way. I release it all and it is wonderful.
On the not-so-good days, I mostly just want not to care and feel as if I need a machete to hack my way through the simple task of living.

This is one of those. So far, at least.

I need a walk.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Night Testimony

All my kids are here and my grandsons too.
I have many various ingredients to go on pizzas ready and waiting and it is going to be an extravaganza here tonight. A feast of pizza pies! Dough is rising and I roasted tomatoes for hours. They are resting in a bowl like tomato jewels.

Owen just pooped on the potty and is waving around a flamingo whose legs were long ago lost in a fishing expedition. Hank is holding Gibson and feeding the child olives. Jason brought out the beer he and Vergil made a few weeks ago. It is delicious.

It has been a very good day and I am very glad to be alive. I wouldn't trade this life for anyone's.

Get Your Google On

Last night's supper was delicious. Mr. Moon and Vergil cooked those sweet potatoes and the pork chops and a huge basket of squash and asparagus and onions and red peppers and tomatoes. It felt real righteous.
I think we might go down to the water today. I am not sure. Kayaking has been mentioned. Vergil is already off for a run.

I am glad for a day where my mind seems to be at rest. I think I am processing a lot of things in my sleep and in my dreams. I don't remember last night's dreams and I am glad for that, too. Yesterday was hard, I have to admit. But you know. These things must all be felt, must all be accepted and gone through like the boxes still spread around the house.

A few days ago I was reading the blog of a woman who never comments here so she is not really part of our community but I've been reading her blog for years. She was raised a very Orthodox Jew and I don't even know the terms but her parents are INTO it. She pulled away from the restrictions and the religion as she got older and married a non-Jew and it's only now, years later, that her parents have started communicating with her. She and her husband are expecting their first child and her father seems to be very interested and they send e-mails back and forth but her mother has remained mostly silent which is, of course, incredibly hurtful. That her mother would remain in her judgement and anger about her daughter's leaving the religion rather than accept and love her for who she truly is, especially now, as she is pregnant. And on her latest posting, this woman spoke of the possibility of her mother being a narcissistic mother and mentioned a check-list of characteristics which might indicate such a thing and so I started Googling and before I knew it, my mind was blown apart.

Some of the sites I went to were like a biography of my mother's and my relationship and it explains so much, even the way each of my mother's children perceived her so differently. But for some reason, I am hesitant about all of this. I guess because like I said yesterday, Mother is gone now and there is no way to defend herself.
On the other hand, she is gone now and can't possibly care.
And why do I even bother to share this?
Quite frankly because I wish I had known about this syndrome, condition, illness thirty years ago so that I would not have spent so much of my life trying to please my mother when it was frankly, impossible. Spending so much of my whole life feeling as if I could never please her due to some deficit in myself. And so forth.

Well, there. I've told you. If you have a very difficult time with your mother, go ahead and start Googling. There are sites, there are books. There are, I am sure, therapists. My own therapist, years ago, may have mentioned this and perhaps I wasn't ready to hear it. I was dealing with childhood sexual abuse, the results of which were tearing me apart at that time. There are so many layers to the stinking onion of dysfunctional families and what family isn't dysfunctional to some degree?

Still. There are levels of dysfunction that can fuck you up for life and there are some which are merely amusing and there are some which are somewhere inbetween and each of us has our own.

But it's a beautiful Sunday morning and Jessie and I are making pancakes (yes, we do love to eat around here) and here is a picture of that activity and also from yesterday's snake roundup in Whigham.

Families. When they're good, they are so damn good.

Happy Sunday, y'all.

Love...Ms. Moon

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Less Than Awesome Randomosity

I really can't believe this weather. That's my Buckeye there, leafing out as you can see. The folk wisdom around here is that you know there will be no more freezes when the pecans begin to leaf and I swear to you, their branches are getting bumpy.
Should I be setting out tomatoes? Hell. I don't know.

I don't know shit.

That should be the name of this blog. idon'

Did I tell you that Owen told me yesterday, whilst I was putting him in his car seat and he had a good view of the inside of my nose that I had spiderwebs in there and that I should not go out like that?
He did.
I said, "Spiderwebs?"
He said, "No, not spiderwebs. Prickly things."

God. I need to groom better.

Later on, at my house, he got a piece of gum when I wasn't looking and I told him that he wasn't supposed to get gum unless he asked me.
"I asked myself," he said.
"And I suppose yourself said to get a piece."

Such a sassy child.

So how do you like my new header? One of the few things I did today was walk around and take pictures. That's not a great picture but any picture with Elvis in it makes me happy. I also cleaned out the nests in the hen house and did laundry. That's pretty much it. Besides cry anytime I talked to anyone which was blessedly rare. I didn't cry when I had a running conversation with Billy via text. Actually, I believe that Billy and I are constantly and eternally having a running conversation via text. We think we're hysterical. We're probably not. But maybe we are. Billy is one of the funniest people I know. He and Owen.

I just talked to Jessie. She and Vergil and Lily and the boys ended up today in Whigham, Georgia for the annual Rattlesnake Roundup. She says they had a great time. Good Lord! I wonder if Owen handled rattlesnakes. I doubt it. Wouldn't that just be like life if Owen grew up to be a snake-handling Pentecostal minister? He's got the looks for one of those rock-star preachers. I hope he doesn't. But if he does, I hope he's not a Republican too. That would break his Mer-Mer's heart.

Speaking of the chickens, I just had to go let Miss Sharon out of the gate. All the chickens got into the backyard today and spent their entire day scratching under the birdfeeder and in the camellia bed and they all figured out how to get to the henhouse to roost except for Sharon. I guess she's not my brightest chicken. Elvis stood at the door and called to her, though, until I let her out and she went on home. Here's something I bet you didn't know- chickens LOVE rotten tofu. I had some I found in the refrigerator the other day and thought, what the hell? and threw it to them and they ate it like it was GOOD! And today I gave 'em grits and they did not like them. Grits are made of corn! Chickens love corn! You should see them attack an ear of corn. But I guess their corn-love does not extend to grits. Go figure.

Mr. Moon is splitting wood. He's going to grill pork chops and squash and sweet potatoes and asparagus for our supper tonight. I just don't think we're getting enough pork around here. Would you believe we are still eating that ham? And it's still delicious. When I said that ham was as big as a Volkswagen, I was not kidding. It's just now whittled down to the size where I can get it in the kitchen refrigerator as opposed to the garage refrigerator which usually has nothing in it but beer. I'll tell you something else- every time I open the refrigerator and smell that clovey-ham goodness I still think, Mmmmm. Ham. 

All right. That's enough of the Local News. Sometimes I feel so dark and sad but when I sit down to write, I discover that I'm tired of feeling like that and the lightheartedness comes out in me and when that happens, I am always surprised.

I'll tell you a secret- writing is magic.

What? You already knew that?

Aren't we lucky?

I think so.

Love...Ms. Moon

Just Sittin' Here Watching The Wheels Go Round And Round

I sort of hit a slump yesterday, despite having my grandsons and knowing that Jessie and Vergil were coming. I had a wonderful time with the boys and at one point when the three of us were playing on my bed we were all laughing so hard, the boys shrieking with laughter, that I thought someone might call the police.
But. Some sort of heaviness descended again and I'm glad that last night's post got up because that martini hit me like a box of hammers and I was barely coherent for the next few hours until I went to bed.

I've been reading a bit about a certain type of personality which I don't even want to name here but which would explain a whole lot about my mother and her relationship with her children and specifically me, the daughter. I'm not naming it (now, at least) because it feels as if I am accusing my mother of something and she's dead and can't defend herself if I'm wrong but I don't think I'm wrong and it's sort of like seeing the color blue all your life and no one around you can see the color blue and so you think there's something wrong with you, probably a brain tumor or something until one day you discover that yes, there certainly is a color blue and the inability of others to see it is not your fault.

Okay. It's not really like that at all.

But it's something to think about. All these years of wondering why it did not feel as if my mother loved me even though she said she did, repeatedly, wondering why I never felt as if I were good enough, wondering why I felt it so necessary to build such walls between us, why being with her always made me feel so shit-like- all of this I suddenly find may have an answer and it's a lot to take in.

It's all a lot to take in. But there is time. This is not a smooth road that any of us are on and certainly not when there is a death of a parent.

And it's a beautiful morning. The same yard which was so quiet and moon-lit last night that there were shadows is now dappled and drenched with the sunlight and it's warm and I can feel the fecundity of the earth, smell it. We ate our breakfast outside and two male cardinals were chasing each other away from the feeder or from something and the camellias are decorating the bushes and really, there is nothing I have to do today. Banks and law offices are closed and I will probably do some laundry and clean out the hen house but beyond that, I have no plans at all. Visit with my children, maybe see those boys again later today or tomorrow. I could sit here and watch Rolling Stones videos all damn day long if that's what I really wanted to do.

I can think or not think. I can choose what to think about. I can think about Gibson and how rough and tumble that little boy is going to be with that big brother of his. They roll over each other like puppies and smush each other with their love and when Gibson stands up by himself without holding on to anything which he is starting to do more regularly, Owen notes that and calls us excitedly to look and see what his brother is doing. I can think about all the love I have in my life and how that love extends back and forth to us all and that is all that matters.
Everything else, whether it is laundry or chickenshit or washing dishes or the pure white camellias or anything, everything, is all a part of that love if I think about it, and I do and like Owen with his brother, I take note and I call out excitedly. Or at least, I call out because every day, no matter what else is going on, I am astounded at the fact of such love once again.

Friday, January 25, 2013

I Miss Those Chicks

The chickens are closed up in their roost and the sun has set and only the slightest bit of pink light still remains to the West and Jessie and Vergil are here and Owen and Gibson, who is asleep, and Lily, and me, of course. I have made us all martinis except for Lily who will be driving home later and Owen, of course, whom I just gave a little glass of orange juice to and Gibson doesn't get one either but that's okay because before he fell asleep he nursed happily. In a few minutes I'll heat up some soup and slice the bread and put out hot sauce and butter and we will gather around the table and break that bread.

Home. Home. Home.

Suddenly, I need to hear a certain song. A song that had some magical connection to us buying this house nine years ago which shelters us so graciously in cold and in summer's heat, in joyous celebration and in sorrow, the ancient oaks outside offering shelter of their own, reminding us of the sweet, small time we are here.

Current Events

I'm still reading the news and trying to "keep up" as it were, which means I go through the headlines on the Huffpost which is probably pretty pathetic but a girl does what a girl can do and I see that sideboob is still fascinating and that some New Mexico lawmaker wants to make it a third-degree felony to get an abortion for a pregnancy caused by rape or incest because that would be "tampering with the evidence" and so I see that raging insanity has not suddenly gone into short supply.

I know some people who are stockpiling things for the end times which they are almost certain are upon us and I can't even imagine what they see as evidence for this claim although yes, times are crazy but when haven't they been? Plague in the next village over, locusts and drought and floods and freezes. These things have always been with us and I don't think that having a black president is going to be the cause of the sudden cessation of life as we know it. People believe all sorts of insane things and I offer up the Virgin Birth as evidence there and also Scientology and the way insurance companies  get away with shit, the fact that we just bend over and take it and cry and moan at the thought of loss of freedom if we should ever get Universal Healthcare.

Lily's down at the courthouse right now, waiting to see if she's selected for jury duty. This is the American Way and that hasn't ended. The sun is shining and I am assuming that the libraries and schools and mall are all still open. Poets are still thinking in images made of words and artists are drinking their coffee and stretching canvases and students are hoisting their backpacks on their backs and walking out the door and car dealers are washing down the merchandise and waiting for customers and bank tellers are counting their drawers.  I bet you that Miss Martha is opening up the Post Office right here in Lloyd.

I do not have the slightest clue as to what I'm talking about today. I honestly do not.

I guess what I'm saying is that life goes on, at least for the living. Yes, things change and rearrange but that too is part of life. Boobs are going to continue to be endlessly fascinating and some people are going to continue to be idiots. I will be one of them at certain times. You can count on that, just as you can count on the fact that you will be too. It's okay.

I have to go to town today to do some death-related errand involving my mother's will and a death certificate and I will be buying coffee and then coming back here and possibly babysitting my grandsons, and Jessie and Vergil will be arriving at some point. I have sourdough bread rising that I started last night. There is soup.
I need to go by the library which, as long as it's open is proof to me that at least some form of civilization persists.

Let us carry on. Calmly or hysterically. The universe does not really care.

Flash us some sideboob, honey.

Happy Friday, y'all.

Love...Ms. Moon

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Today was the first day in forever that I did not leave Lloyd. 
It was heavenly. 
Russell went home, which was hard, but Jessie will be here tomorrow. With Vergil. I am so happy about that. 
I had a lot to be happy about today. The weather, the beginning blooms of redbud

and Japanese Magnolia,

the roses opening which Lily brought over on Sunday, 

the orchid I brought home from Mother's which Lily gave her over a year ago and which seems to bloom continuously, 

the 'coon tracks I saw on my walk, 

the clothes I hung on the line, including The Black Dress,

 the clean sheets on my bed for tonight. 

And then, as if the universe were conspiring to make all my dreams come true, this ad from Publix. 

Eight O'Clock coffee is BOGO this week, y'all.
I will be buying at least ten to twenty bags of it. I am not even kidding. 
I feel just completely rich. 

My mother's remains are in a startlingly large and heavy box in a dresser drawer. She had good bones, that woman. She took a lot of Fosamax. Which did not prevent those ribs from breaking but she was eighty-five. 

I got a call today from a woman who had known Mother when she was a hospice volunteer but I had known the woman before that when she was a professor of mine at the FSU school of nursing. That was a beautiful thing, to talk to her. She can't believe I'm a grandmother now. We traded grandbaby stories.  

People have been so kind. Cards and calls and our friend Tom even brought over some banana bread that he actually baked himself with bananas from a tree he has in St. Augustine, as well as two tiny palm trees in pots that I can plant in this yard. 

It's been a very good day and I am grateful for each and every blessing, even the tiny one of being able to release a bee which was trapped in a screen door on the porch and the sighting of a blue-tailed skink, back in the yard to take the sun which shone down like honey all day and which dried my sheets, my towels, my dress as the breeze blew through like the loving breath of the earth.


The funeral home director just called and informed me that Mother's "cremains" are ready to be picked up along with the death certificates.
Now can I just say that the word "cremain" is most likely my least favorite word in the English language? I first heard it when my friend Sue died and we were at the funeral home which was handling her remains. I thought the woman had made it up. I was open-mouthed when she used it the first time. I almost burst into hysterical laughter. Cremains? Are you fucking kidding me?

Anyway, la-di-dah. No matter what you call them, Mother's are ready to be picked up. Along with the death certificates. Some with cause of death on them, some without. Due to HIPAA laws, some places can only accept the death certificates without the COD on them. And no, you cannot use copies of the death certificates for most places. You have to use original documents.
There are so many laws involved in all of these things. It's...overwhelming.

But let me say this- it is the most incredibly beautiful day and my heart and my spirits are good. I hear the sweet liquid trill of the redwing blackbirds and the chip-chip-chip of the cardinals. I hear the calling back and forth of robins as well as the song of a mockingbird and yes, even at the same time, I hear a distant woodpecker doing his pneumatic drill impersonation. Crows, if I am not mistaken, are fussing at each other in the side-yard. The sun is drenching everything in gold and the sky is a cloudless bowl of blue. There is a sweet cool breeze which ruffles and jangles the wind chimes and a truck is running through its gears on the nearby highway.
I have a lightness of heart which I should probably be ashamed of but am not. I am, in fact, incredibly grateful for it.

My darling Russell has to leave today but Jessie and Vergil are coming tomorrow. I have things to do but I do not feel as if I am drowning. Yes, the legal duties which death brings are all present but as I said yesterday, it is all a process and so, by definition, it does not need to all be done at once and I have my husband to do far more of the work and thinking for me than he should have to but which he is so good at and which he does so graciously.

And Baby has just come over to visit the bird feeder which never ever fails to make me happy. Even her sudden appearance feels like a gift. I am going to take a walk, I am going to hang my sheets on the line. I am going to be so fucking grateful for the blessings which this day, this life have presented me.

My mother's cremains are ready to be picked up. At some point, we will scatter them over the water. Lily wants to take some up to Jessie's wedding to leave on the mountain too, which will be most fitting as Mother wanted to go to that wedding and loved the mountains as much, if not more, than she loved the water.

There is so much that was imperfect in my relationship with Mother and will ever be so but I will continue to do what is set before me to do for her, even now in death, and if my heart is light despite all of that then I am not going to over-think things. I am simply going to accept the gifts given as well as the duties and be incredibly grateful for them.

Good morning from Lloyd.

Love...Ms. Moon

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

If Only The Egret Could Impart Her Wisdom To Me

One week ago. One week ago my mother died.
And time hasn't stopped for a second and things get more and more and more complicated and death is just the beginning of so many processes. Some emotional, some physical, some financial, some legal. There are more types but I can't really think right now.
My brain is just not right.

I told May tonight that if I could, when it was time for me and Mr. Moon to leave this earth, I would love to be able to say, "We shall be dying on Thursday at four o'clock. We have liquidated everything. Here is a check for each of you. Now. Can we borrow some money for food because we will need to eat before we die on Thursday. At four o'clock."

But it's not like that. Ever.

Well. So what? Life is never what you wish it to be, but instead what it turns out to really be, and yeah, you can quote me on that one. Hahahahahaha! I'm fucking profound, aren't I?

That picture? It has nothing to do with anything but if you click on it, perhaps you can see what I saw which was a floating dock on a local lake which had a bunch of turtles on it, all facing a little egret and it looked for all the world as if the egret were addressing the turtles on some important matter and it made me laugh. My brother Chuck said that the egret was telling the turtles that they had to "come out of their shells." A motivational speaker, as it were.
Could be.

And I went to try and buy another dress but they only had them in black and what would be the point? I have one of those.

We're going to eat soup soon and then, again we shall sleep.
You want to know what my favorite thing was yesterday?
Taking Owen to pee in a a little bush-lined island in the parking lot of the Costco. We got out of the store and to the car and he had to pee and I was going to take him back to the store and way, way back to where the restrooms are which was about a mile in distance and then I looked at those little islands with no one parked around them and I said, "Come on."
We stepped over the bushes and I taught him the word "discreet." Well, sort of.
I love the way little boys can pee anywhere and I am not a firm believer that all pee-pee must be delivered into the Great White Toilet. It's just a little pee. We were...discreet.
When we were walking back to the car he said, "I so tired. Hold me." So I picked him up and hoisted him onto my hip, his great long legs dangling down. "Only to the car though," I said, which was stupid- I mean, did I think he was hoping I'd carry him all the way home?
I don't ever want to not be strong enough to pick up and carry a tired child. Ever. I know that day will come.
Not yet, though.

I should not have gone to trivia last night. Usually, when our family gets together to play Trivia we kick some damn ass. Last night we barely made it out of the bottom three. I'm not quite sure we did. It would have been embarrassing if I had actually cared. But it was a sweet time, being with Lily and Russell and Chuck and Mr. Moon and I do love love watching Hank being the Trivia Master. He is a firm Trivia Master. Do not get caught holding a cell phone. Just don't do it!

I love that design. He did it himself. Of course. Hank is a graphics genius.
Last night's hint was Civil Rights. Not quite four years ago, Hank posted an incredible and well-researched piece about Stonewall which you can read here. 
If you didn't know why our president mentioned Stonewall in his inauguration speech, go read that post of Hank's and you will. I linked it when he wrote it and I'm proud to link it again now. I was proud of Obama for mentioning Stonewall. It should be taught in our children's history books.
Maybe one day.

Well, there's business to attend to. I need to get moving here and go to town and attend to it. It's cold as hell (yes, cold for Florida- it is below freezing) and I am going to try and force myself to wear something other than the black dress because honestly, this is getting to the point of not-normal. No matter how comfortable and easy a dress is, there is something wrong with wearing it every time I leave the house for two weeks. I mean EVERY TIME.
Black dress, some sweater or shirt under it, tights. My black Mary Jane Crocs.
Okay. Maybe I'll wear it again today. It's the essence of comfort.
I don't even wear a bra, okay? I wear a stretchy camisole thing with a shelf bra in it.
Hey. I started this post talking about taking Owen to pee in the Costco parking lot.
I guess that's where I am today. It's all about the basics.

And I'm going to make vegetable and venison soup for dinner. And I'll try not to pee in any parking lots and if you get real tired I might be able to carry you as far as the car.

Love...Ms. Moon

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Listen- a walk will cure almost any ill your mind can come up with.
I walked this morning and saw robins flocking and talking, fat orange breasts flashing in the sun. It was beautiful and when I got home I felt something quite akin to happiness.
Is that even possible?
It would appear so.
And then lunch with Lily and the boys and Russell and then Costco with all of the above and Hank and it was about as much fun as this old woman can bear. And THEN I gave Gibson a bottle and got him to sleep and put him in his crib where he turned to his side and curled up like a lima bean and I felt like the most successful grandmother in the world.

Okay, then there was the meeting at the attorney's office and wouldn't you know I'm the damn executor  of the will? Please, y'all. Just...please.
Oh well.
Eventually it will all be a hazy memory of terms like Probate and Co-owner of Account.

And now we're getting ready to go back to town to play Trivia with Hank as our trivia master. Russell and Chuck and Mr. Moon and Lily and I. We are going to name our team The Brand New Orphans or something like that.
Gawd. We are awful.

No we're not.

I'm still wearing the black dress. I did wash it again. This is ridiculous. Then again, it occurs to me that I could possibly throw out everything in my closet except for this one dress and the shirts and sweaters I wear under it.


I won't. Not yet. But it's a thought. Goddamn it, it's a thought.

More Brain Detritus, Labile Edition

It's fucking cold here and it's going to get colder tonight. Damn. I do not like cold weather. When the Canadians were here they were talking a lot about how cold it gets in Canada and I, freshly orphaned and not in my right mind and not being polite said quite bluntly, "Yes, well I live in Florida for a reason."
Of course this is true but the main reason is that I was brought here at an early age and have mostly stayed here. I lived in Denver for a year and a half and hated it and high-tailed it back to Florida as soon as I found a good excuse to do so which turned out to be a fella, of course, since I was nineteen years old and here I have been ever since. But I love Florida and I love to be a tourist in Florida and Florida offers about three different geographical areas to visit and I enjoy them all. I could be wrong about that three different areas but I will say that North Florida is far more like Southern Georgia than it is like South Florida and we have definite seasons and it does get cold and although I love the fact that this allows me to grow camellias I don't like the cold.
So there.

I hate the dreams I am having. They make me feel all disturbed and are shot through with fucked-upedness and I could definitely live without them. Having experienced more than my share of different mental states of unhealth I fear being stuck in one.

I guess what I'm saying here is that I hope I'm not going crazy. I don't feel depressed especially but I do feel jangled and unmoored as if my soul is traveling a bit too far from my body at night with completely different dreamscapes and dream-fears and dream-scenarios and they are not soothing or pleasant and I wake up from them with my neurons upset and jangling. I suppose this is completely normal but I do not like it. Quite frankly it's all been a little too much since the end of November when the Season Of Insanity began and there was Thanksgiving and then Christmas and then New Years and I got sick and then Mother fell and then died.
I mean. Really.
Add to all of that the many, many pictures I've gone through in the last few days from my childhood on to the weird things I've found in her files to the newspaper clippings to the jewelry to the constant reminders that nothing, nothing is the same and never will be again since Mother died in that hospital room, one slow breath coming after another, pausing, halting, beginning again, slowing more, then finally and at last ceasing, those swirling molecules of change and I guess it's not a big mystery why my moods and emotions are a bit...labile...shall we say?
I just looked that word up to make sure I was using it correctly and I am told that it comes from "late Latin labilis, from labi ‘to fall.’"

Yeah. That sounds about right and I suppose I can feel the ground beneath me shift and threaten to go out completely and I do not care to fall, not one bit.

Well. I am doing my best.

Part of me wants nothing more than to resume "normalcy" whatever that may be and part of me wants to flee like a scurrying rat and head to Cozumel where nothing is normal nor expected to be and no street I walk down can remind me of any damn thing except for the other times I have walked down it and have always, without fail, been happy and the water of so many colors is at the end of all of the streets if you just keep walking long enough and the bats boil out of the jungle at night to eat mosquitoes and the swallows dart and soar and the iguanas bask in the sun with their sternly sour look of disapproval and little children smile at you from behind their hands with their merry eyes dancing.

Or something like that.

No trips are planned, however, and not likely to be. Therefore I am taking comfort where I can find it although the ham and the chocolate cake no longer seem to be working. I told my darling Lis a week or so ago that my greatest comforts are my chickens and Keith Richards and I was only half-joking. I cherish the idea that Keith (as Hank pointed out) is my spiritual totem animal and perhaps the chickens are my earthly totem animals and if this is so, there is nothing wrong with that.

Of course my grandsons bring me great joy and my children and my brothers and my husband too but they necessarily bring up all sorts of genetic and heart-connections and these things do have a tendency to lead directly back to The Mother and now that I think of it, I am now The Mother and there you go.
Neither the chickens nor Keith Richards are related to me in any way and like the streets of Cozumel, lead only to pleasant places or at least humorous ones or dancing ones or eggs.
Which reminds me of the way Keith bestows blessing/thanks on his audiences and on other musicians which is hands to head, heart and balls and I guess that's a rasta thing, I don't know but it sort of sums it all up.
Also? I am not the chickens' mother nor am I Keith Richard's mother and the egg fits in the palm perfectly as if they were made for each other and huevos is the Spanish word for egg and also Mexican slang for balls and honey, all things are connected I guess and there is nothing for it but to call Mother's eye doctor and inform them that Mother will not be needing any more shots in her eyeballs which are not unlike eggs in shape and the shots, the shots and I think of how they gave Mother a shot of morphine when she was dying and I thought of the Rolling Stones song Sister Morphine which was, perhaps not quite appropriate as a dying song but which, perhaps was in fact as appropriate as anything.

I do not know.

It is cold.

I am going to go let my chickens out and then take a walk. Things, I feel, will go from there.

Monday, January 21, 2013

My Good Man Baby Brother

I have to write about my baby brother, Russell who is here staying with us. It is such a comfort and joy to have him here. He and Mr. Moon just moved a chest of drawers for me and I said, "It's so nice to have such strong men around."
Mr. Moon said, "Yes, but odor isn't everything."
And Russell laughed.
He is the gentlest giant. He is caring and responsible and he has a wonderful sense of humor.
He loves his cat, Little Bitch. Well, her official name is Booger due to a little black spot on her pink nose. As he says, "Booger is what the vet knows her as."

When I was twelve, my brother Chuck was born. A year later, here came Russell. Irish twins, as it were. Mother was forty when Russ was born and she'd read an article in the Good Housekeeping when she was pregnant about how babies born to older women could have Down's syndrome which was just starting to be understood then.
And she feared the entire nine months that this baby would not be quite right but he was, in fact, right as rain.
And since Mother was at a rather advanced age for childbirth and taking care of babies, I took over a lot of the childcare of Chuck, and when Russell was born, Chuck's crib was moved into my room which I loved. I loved both of those babies so much. I think I was born with a very strong maternal instinct and because the period of time when they were born was such a horrible nightmare of a time with my stepfather, the babies were my salvation.
Having Chuck's crib in my room saved me from nightly visits from the man which was a miracle of sorts and then on top of that I got to love, love, love two little redheaded baby boys.
Chuck and Russell.

The only thing about leaving home at eighteen that was hard for me was knowing that I was leaving those two precious boys. Things in our house had gotten only worse. My stepfather's addiction to pain medication, his bizarre behavior, his cruel psychological abuse of his wife and sons had reached a level of horror. And I knew I had to get out and I knew I couldn't save my brothers but I so wished I could have. And they survived. But it wasn't easy.

A few years after I left for college in Denver, I was back in Florida, married and with a baby of my own and I used to babysit Chuck and Russell when their parents went on trips out of the country and god forgive me, I used to wish with all of my heart that something would happen to them, the parents, and that they would never come back and I that I could raise those boys as my own.
Well, only the good die young.
I did keep them as much as I could and they came and stayed with me on and off for years and I loved them the best I could. At one point, when they graduated from high school, they both moved to Tallahassee to attend college here and that was wonderful. Chuck stayed, got married, got a job he loves to this day and had kids. Russell eventually moved back to Winter Haven. And I have missed him so. My kids miss him too. We are trying desperately to talk him into moving back to town. We love him and in some ways, we need him. He has such a good heart and a good soul and we want him here.

I told him that I was going to write this and that I wanted to find him a wife.
I am only half kidding. The boy is shy, y'all. He is also kind and honest and strong and handsome. He works at Home Depot in kitchen design and is a sort of artist. He used to work as a jeweler and I think he loved that and misses that sort of work. He is quiet and he is thoughtful and he is funny. He is my baby brother.

I have loved watching him and Chuck together the last few days. They don't see each other very often but when they do, I can see the little boys they were together. It makes my heart so happy.

I want Russell to be a part of our lives. He is so good with children and I would love for Owen and Gibson to know him, growing up.

But mostly, I want him here for me. There is no one in this world who makes me feel as safe and protected as my brother Russell. I just know that no matter what situation I was in, he could literally and would literally carry me right out of it. He wouldn't think twice.

And now I'm going to go make him and Mr. Moon some supper. It's been a day of just being, mostly. We've been some busy and Russell and I went to the Publix and Mr. Moon took care of as much business as he could but really, we haven't done much. I watched our president's speech and I cried several times. It blew me away when he mentioned Stonewall and said what he said about our gay brothers and sisters. He is, as his wife said about him, not one to get in the door and then close it behind him. I love so much about him but that is one of the things I love the most.

I do love a man who cares about others. I am blessed to be married to one, I am blessed to be related to some. Chuck and Russell are without a doubt, two of those men and so is my brother White. And of course, my son Hank.

And it is one of the gifts of my mother's death that she gave me opportunity to spend time with these two brothers of mine in person and also on the phone with White, my other brother in Washington. Our relationship is being repaired and strengthened by the day and I wish that he, too, were here.

But this is about Russell and how much I love having him here. I feel as comfortable with him as I do with any other human on the planet. He is my blood and he is my baby brother who has grown to be a man who knows I love him and whom I know loves me. No doubt there on any level.

Here he is last August when he came up to celebrate his forty-fifth birthday with us.

Oh Russell. We want you here. You may not need us but we need you. I want to celebrate as many birthdays as we can together. It's your life and you are the one who gets to decide where you live and how you live, but dammit, I want you here.

Love...Your sister, Mary

Brain Detritus

I slept so hard again. Hours and hours and hours of it and I still feel half asleep. I dreamed I was on some small island and the whole thing seemed to be one street of commerce, the beach hidden from view and I rode a bicycle from shop to shop and wondered why I had wanted to visit there.
It did not, believe me, look like Cozumel.

Mr. Moon and my brothers were going to attend to Mother's business today but then they realized that today is Martin Luther King, Jr. day and so banks and offices are closed. So much for that plan.
It is beautiful and sunny and cool and tomorrow night it's supposed to get down in the twenties and I'll have to cover up the plants outside and today I need to water them. They are thirsty.

I drink coffee and I think about Owen and how you can be playing with him for four hours and he'll look at you and say, "What you want to do today?" as if you've just met up that very moment and are making your plans.
What you want to do today?
I don't know. Lay flat on the ground and think/not think. Feel/not feel. Boy I tell you what- I am going through the emotions like a hot knife through butter. Today is one week from the last time I saw my mother alive and conscious. I wrote about it and started out with these words: The visit with my mother did not go well. They so rarely do but this was on the horrible scale.
So of course I am thinking of that and how after an hour and a half I had to get out of there, had to flee, left her behind with that chugging oxygen machine, her nausea, her litany of complaints. She actually said this to me that day: "I am ready to die. Not that I think I'm going to see Jesus walk around the corner or anything."
Yay, Mom! No deathbed comings-to-Jesus for you!

But. Do I wish I could go back and make my words sweeter that day? Make my touch more comforting? Give more reassurance?
No. Not really. Can't see as how I could have changed much. I keep thinking that I should be feeling...something. What? Softer? More regret? Maybe. Not going to happen, I don't think. The grief and regret I may have is centered on two things.

One, the way she died which was one last example of my inability to make my mother happy in that her greatest fear was that she would die and be "brought back" which is exactly what happened and no, it's not my damn fault that her DNR form wasn't in her paperwork right there but I should have made sure it was. I just so strongly assumed it was, having spoken to every nurse in the joint about it and how she was ready to die and yes, was a DNR. I had TOLD them that and they understood. I could comfort myself and say that she was unconscious when they coded her but the nurse told me in that scrambled mess of phone calls at the very end that she had regained consciousness before the EMT's took her to the hospital so I can't believe that. If she WAS conscious when they were coding her she was pissed and it probably hurt like hell.
So. Yes. That makes me feel sick and horrible. We have spoken to the powers-that-be at the assisted living and they have already changed their protocol for the handling of DNR forms because of what happened but that doesn't help my mother one bit. And I'm not sure I'll ever get over that one.

Secondly, I grieve because I never did have the mother I wanted and needed. I don't know whether it was something that happened to her in her childhood or whether it was because the years in which I was young were so traumatic to her due to my father and the circumstances of that time or because I just wasn't the child she knew how to mother. I do not know.
But I do know I was a good little girl. I do know I loved my mother desperately.
And I do actually know when that love evolved into something far more jaded and realistic.

I keep going through her jewelry and thinking that there will be something that I'll find that I'll want to keep and wear but there just isn't. Anything that my stepfather gave her is immediately rejected. Okay, there is one pair of earrings that I gave her that I like and quite frankly, I don't remember that she ever wore them. I'd love my grandmother's pearls but I can't find them. I found my grandmother's slender wedding band and yes, I am wearing that and maybe Jessie would like it as a wedding band. I don't know. It just seems so damn sad that a daughter doesn't want one piece of her mother's jewelry after she dies. I mean, isn't that the way it should be? Instead, I just want these things out of here. I want the newspaper clippings out, I want the jewelry out, I don't even want the pictures.
When she moved into the assisted living we had to get rid of all the household items and so what we've got left here is just a few pieces of furniture and her clothes and the personal items. The concentrated remains of things, I guess.
The clothes are gone. Most of the furniture is back at her old house which we still haven't sold, and the personal items that no one else wanted are here. And I wish they weren't.

God. Mother's and my relationship was so odd. I moved away at a young age but then when Glen and I had been married for six years, his mother died and his father and my mother married and she moved here. He died shortly after and she stayed in Tallahassee. It was just so...weird. Suddenly my beloved father-in-law was my stepfather and my husband was my...stepbrother?
All I could think was, Will the incest never end?
And yet, when Glen's daddy died, I was sorrowful for her. What a terrible thing- she'd finally found and married a good man and then he died. My mother did not get the good breaks.

It's all so complicated and thus, my thoughts are complicated and my emotions are swooping and diving and whirling. No wonder I can't do more than one thing at a time. No wonder that when my husband couldn't find any clean socks this morning and we were out of milk that I cried. No wonder I don't want any of my mother's jewelry.

Well, I have said that I am not going to censure my feelings. As if I could. There is such a Hollywood-induced temptation to believe that I should now only feel and remember good things about my mother. To let all of the negative go. I think I'd have to be a zombie of some sort to do that.
And on top of everything else, there is just the plain fact that one somehow never believes that one's mother will die. Even if she has been telling you she wants to for most of your life. And yet, she did die and I was there when she took her last breath, my hand on her head, my other hand holding hers.
Which is a profound experience, no matter what. I think I was, on some level, completely aware that her time had come even though the nurses seemed to think that if we just got her pain meds figured out and her nausea figured out, she'd get better.
My gut knew the truth. Maybe because I am her daughter.
No matter what, I am indeed her daughter.

I think I'll go do the laundry. I think I'll go water the plants. I think I'll go put all of Mother's things in one place that I don't have to look at then every time I walk through the house. I want the comfort of my old funky junk, my gathered treasures, my camellias and madonnas and mermaids. And then watch our president get sworn in again which is something that I know my mother would have loved seeing.

It's complicated. And that's not just a movie title or a Facebook status. It's just the fucking truth.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lord. Lord. If I had a dollar for every time I've said that or "Oh god," or "Oh Jesus" in the past three days I could fly to Cozumel and have a lovely vacation. 
Unfortunately, no heavenly monetary bounty has fallen with my words. 
This is not to say there have not been blessings galore. 

I cried today watching Obama take the oath of office again with his wife and daughters. The Bible he used today belonged to his wife's family- a family descended from slaves. The Bible he took his first oath on belonged to Abraham Lincoln and the Bible he'll swear on tomorrow belonged to Martin Luther King, Jr. On Martin Luther King day.
His family is so beautiful. You gotta love a man who'd take on a six-foot tall woman and love her the way he seems to love her. And then their babies....

Everyone came out today. Chuck and his wife and kids and father-in-law and sister-in-law and Hank and Taylor and Mark and May and Matt and Lily, and the boys were already here, and we ate and ate and all the kids ran around like crazy and yelled, "May! May!" and she ran around like crazy and we passed Gibson around like the wriggling smiling Buddha he is and I couldn't concentrate on one thing. One thing I've learned about death is that after you experience one you cannot, for the life of you, multi-task. Go ahead. Try. 
Like if I'm carrying Gibson and someone wants a glass of water I don't even know where the glasses are.

When it came time for Lily to take the boys home, Owen did not want to go. He cried and cried. He pleaded to spend the night. I finally said, "If you spend the night you have to sleep with Uncle Russell." He thought about that for one red-hot second, looked very distressed, and started crying again. He did talk me into letting him take a bath here.


My beautiful, beautiful boys. 
My beautiful, beautiful children.

I can't multi-task. I am telling you. Which means I can't think and write at the same time. I'm sorry.

When I went to kiss Owen good-bye before they left I said, "Give me a kiss." 
"I already kissed you." 
"Too bad. You have to kiss me again."
He did. 

I did the traditional turkey gobble and explosion sound and he said, "No thank-you."
What? All of a sudden he's mature. 

Gibson turned ten months old today. Time is flying. 

Sweet dreams.

Love...Ms. Moon

Sunday Morning

It is a sure-enough beautiful morning here in Lloyd. Cool but not cold and the sun is shining like it was brand new and just trying out its powers. I am realizing that my dreams are going to be changing a lot and not necessarily for the better but that when I wake up, I can struggle out of them. I can see the day for what it is and that's a blessing, especially when it's a day like this one.

I am looking forward to a day, soon I hope, when there is nothing I have to do. It's been a long time since I had a day like that. It was two weeks ago today that Mother fell and broke her ribs. Two weeks. Such a short amount of time. A lot has happened though, in those two weeks.

You know one of the things I'd do with a day in which I had nothing I HAD to do?
I'd write.
There's so much I want to talk about, to get out of my heart and brain and into words.

Meanwhile, Obama is about to be sworn in again and I want to watch that and there are dishes to wash and the boys are coming over soon and then other people are coming over soon and there are things to be unloaded from the trailer and it's all okay and good and the sun is shining and the cardinals are chip-chirping and I'll process more crap and stuff and facts and dreams tomorrow.

There is time.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Emptying Things Out

 Midwives say that on the third day after birth the milk and the tears come in. 
I think that the third day after an injury, the pain is the worst. I don't know why.
And now I am thinking that the third day after a death is when it begins to settle in. The truth of it, the finality of it, the exhaustion.

I'm just so tired now.

We got that room cleared out. Hank and May and Lily and the boys and Chuck and Russell and Glen and I all came together and sorted and finished what we'd started yesterday. Bags and bags of stuff and Glen and Russ are taking a load to donate right now and tomorrow we'll figure out what to do with the rest of it. I guess.

Kathleen came over and left the most beautiful dish of arroz con pollo I've ever seen and pecan praline bread and salad and my across-the-street neighbors who brought the ham have now left a chocolate cake and I just got a call from another neighbor who is bringing chicken salad.

I am so grateful. These kindnesses make me want to cry.

Maybe that's what I need. To cry. I don't know. It's a confusing, emotional time and I am feeling everything from vast relief to profound sadness. I continue to try and accept each and every feeling as it comes but I tell you what- it's taking a lot out of me.

Which is to be expected. It is the third day, after all. I think I feel empty. I think I feel hollow.
I guess this is why people bring food.

We Just Keep Eating

I slept so hard last night that I can't seem to wake up this morning. I am in a dazy haze.
Mr. Moon and Russell are hooking up the trailer to the truck so we can go in and finish up the cleaning-out of Mother's room at the assisted living. I believe we are going to stop at the Waffle House for our breakfast. I am pretty sure that all deaths which occur in the south require (perhaps by law, even) at least one meal taken in a Waffle House by someone in the family. We need to cross that one off our list.

The Waffle House is a place which will take you in any hour of the day or the night. It will welcome you with fluorescent lighting, servers who will call you honey or baby, and there will be the good smells of bacon and sausage and frying potatoes and onions. It doesn't matter if you are deep in grief or in drunkenness. As long as you are wearing shoes and shirt and are not belligerent and have cash, they will serve you.
No credit cards accepted.

I am going to go put on my black dress again. It is now my grieving-nunnightgown. Truthfully, I don't even remember the last time I washed it.

This is how it is today. There is more, but this is the bare-bones story of it, the bright-morning of the third day after my mother's death.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Well the days just keep being filled. We started out this morning at the funeral home after a night of not much sleep due to normal mind-stuff as well as a gastric system freaked out by my-mother-just-died-and-I-can-eat-anything-I-want-to foods. 
Pie is good. Faux Mexican food is good. But. Pie and Mexican food and so forth and so on when you're not used to eating food like that can keep your ass awake at night and I am not kidding.
Just saying.

Anyway, the funeral home guy was terrific. Mother had taken care of everything back a long time ago and we just had to update a few things and they didn't try to sell us any fancy urns or upgrades. It was beautiful. My brother Chuck got there before we did and opened the door for us and said something like, "Velcome!" in a Count Dracula accent and I remembered once again how much I love my brother and I started laughing and then realized I was at a funeral home and felt a little bad about laughing but then I stopped feeling bad and it was fine.

After that, we all met up at Mother's room at the assisted living and started going through her stuff. Toss, donate, keep.
"On my god. Look at this."
"You want this, baby?"
"Mmmm. Maybe. Let me look." Etc.

Memory Lane, Memory Road. Memory Highway. Memory Street. We traveled them all today. There were things that made us laugh so hard. I found a stash of white cotton gloves that I have NO idea why my mother kept. I showed them to Chuck and he put one on and did his Michael Jackson impersonation. I said, "Oh god. Can I take a picture of that and put it on my blog?"
He said I could.
I did and I did and I am. Here it is.

My brother Chuck is one of the funniest people I know. And one of the blessings of Mother's death is that we get to spend time together. He is so busy with his children and his job but we are necessarily thrown together and it is a joy. 

So we got through a ton of stuff today and will go back tomorrow. My brother Russell just got here and he'll be with us and so will Hank and May and Lily and the boys, and Jessie and my brother White are all here in spirit. 

One of the things I discovered today is that my mother was an inveterate collector of newspaper clippings. I spent my high school years in Winter Haven and the Winter Haven News Chief was obviously hurting bad for news because this was one of the many clippings I found today. 

Was I rocking those horn-rims or what? I made that dress, ya'll. I had no idea how gorgeous I was. A gift from my mother. Along with a whole lot of S&H Green Stamps and more address books, greeting cards, memo tablets and address labels than anyone needs.

Well, so okay, Russell is here and my across-the-street neighbor has brought me a ham. For the first time in my life I don't feel bad at all about receiving food. My mother died. It's okay. Bring me a ham. I am a southern woman and I want to cradle that ham in my arms and love it. 

I wrote Mother's obit tonight and I sent it out to my kids and my sibs and I completely forgot to list Chuck's kids. Well, all I can say is- my mother died and I am not in my right mind and I will make the correction. 

Send hams and reminders. 

Love...Ms. Moon