Posted by: hightides | July 16, 2011

Goodbyes

“Way back here, where no one will look, I’ll sign my name to close this book.”

This week, my ex-husband, Neil, passed away. He had not had an easy life the last few years– he had had a series of strokes that left him with less and less brain power, less of who had once been, less patience for the world he was reduced to. He was difficult to deal with and stubborn and insistent on getting his way. He was no longer “Neil”, but someone else in Neil’s body.

This week has been interesting for me as I came to support my sons, cook some meals, wash some dishes, play with my grandson, offer a little advice. I’ve introduced myself as Neil’s first wife a couple of times, but will try harder now to introduce myself as the boys’ mother. I find that I don’t want to be known as an ex-wife — first one or not — as the years I spent as Mrs. Neil were a tad more painful to remember than a 30 year separation should have provided.

Yesterday I was asking Neil’s old friends to help at the funeral– be ushers, pour coffee — and remembering that these people turned their backs on me 30 years ago and chose the abuser’s version instead. There was a note on the newspaper obits page from the very woman who was instrumental in breaking up my marriage– sweetly written, but dang it! I know that the service tomorrow will also be difficult and I’m not looking forward to it. (Well, one doesn’t look forward to funeral services anyway, does one?) hmmmm…

Back at the farm, my kitchen is getting painted without me, the gardens are burning up in 100 degree heat, Kip and my dogs and cats are missing me. I’ll be sorry to go home because it means I won’t see my youngest and his wife and baby for many months. I’ll also be sorry to leave this lushly green state with reasonable summer temperatures. But I also find that this place, which was my home for a third of my life, doesn’t need me any more and I’m thinking that home isn’t so much where you hang your hat, but more where you’re needed. I’m missing home-home.

The final word is to anyone wandering around without a will. DO IT TODAY. This isn’t about you, Bucky, this is so the people you’re leaving behind can get everything sorted out with minimal cost and strain. People do not reason well when they’re mourning. Leave another piece of paper with a list of your accounts — even telephone and cable — and what banks you do business with. Who is your best friend — the one that would come and help your family? And, as Neil did, write a brief history of your life. What would you like to be remembered for? What events made a difference in your life?

Yes, this man made a huge difference in my life — actually two differences — my sons. And for these, I will say goodbye with grace and gratitude.

— Burlington, VT. July 13, 2011

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Responses

  1. Dev, Beautifully written-as only you have the gifts to do! I’ll be e-mailing you soon. Love, hugs, and prayers. Andy


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