Fresh Pages

I don’t know about anyone else’s house, but in mine, there is one “master” calendar that hangs on the wall in the kitchen and is the repository for everything and anything that happens under this roof—planned and unplanned but noted once it happened.

At the end of each year, somewhere between Christmas and New Year’s, I take it down from it’s hallowed space on the cork board and with a brand-new calendar in tow, I make myself comfortable in a corner of the house and begin the obligatory transfer of family and friends’ birthdays, anniversaries, and any other milestone moments.

I typically start with a quick scan of the month copying events I already know by rote, but I check anyway to make sure I got the correct date. Then, I take a second, closer look at any days that had comments written inside. In any given month, I find my way around the maze of oil changes, dentist appointments, and miscellaneous call-backs that needed to be made. Sometimes there are stretches for months, where there is something written in each day with appointments and activities, that by the time I get to August, I need to sit back and take a few minutes’ break and stretch from the intense inch by inch scrutiny.

As I decipher my shorthand and scribbles, the memories of each event come rushing back: That emergency mechanic appointment I had to squeeze in before our vacation (“but it’s a new car, darnnit!”); the phone call we received when we found out our granddaughter was born; the reminder that we need to order wood again for the winter (and scratching our heads swearing we just did that); my 30 year high school reunion (!!); classes starting, classes ending; a retreat one weekend and a weekend in Upstate the next; and it goes on.

Transferring those dates on the calendar is like reading a diary of my family’s life from the year, which is what a calendar can be I suppose. It’s this recording of the daily and monthly minutiae of our life that is the fabric of memories, some good, some bad, and some bittersweet.

A few years ago, the big build-up was my husband’s health. Looking over that calendar year as I transferred dates, I relived the memory of his chemotherapy treatments whenever I came across his oncologist’s name every few weeks with the appointment time scrawled underneath. We then began to add the countdown to his last treatment, until finally, happily, added to the calendar in block letters: “Cancer Free”.

This year’s focus, as I looked back, was my mother and her health and I could see the intensity of the changes reflected about mid-year when the doctor appointments increased. I began to make notes on the calendar of her falls and hospital visits; then came the closing date of her apartment she lived in for the past 15 years followed by scrawled names of appointments with facilities, social workers, and nurses. And then, finally, the date she entered Hospice and a mere three days later, the day she passed.

Every year, every month, has its own story. Some have a theme that runs through the year and others are just pinpoints of hours or days of unrelated events. As the years have passed, I’ve become more selective over which milestones I carry over to the blank spaces of the new calendar. Of course not every event gets transferred but I think this year has been an especially bittersweet reflection as we added the joyful event of the birth of our first granddaughter, and then the sad, but inevitable date of the passing of my mother.

January is already beginning to fill up, and that’s okay. It’s even good. Because isn’t that what it’s about? It’s those moments in between that keeps us smiling, keeps us loving, and keeps us moving on…..to fresh pages.

#takingitdeeper

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Dear Spring

Dear Spring,

Please, please come back. I miss you. When you left I know it was because Summer had come to town and you may have felt intimidated with all of her long sunny days and giving off heat so intense sometimes, she had the power to make the rest of us wear the skimpiest of clothes and sometimes even do nothing but just lie around basking in her light. Oh, but she is not you.

And yes, then Fall came wearing the most breathtaking colors. She is THE weather diva sashaying down earth’s runway wearing her colors of gold and red that no one else can carry off. But you know she only stays a short while, so you never have to worry about her. And again, she is not you.

But then there’s Mother Winter. Sometimes the cruelest one of all with her paralyzing ways. None of the others can compare with her ability to hold us down, keeping us hostage to warmer areas while she redesigns the landscape by making new snow mountains and hills by covering everything she sees. Yes, there are some who love her and dance with her in the storms and use her back to ski or sled down, but not me. She is definitely not you.

Spring, you are the only one for me. Yes, okay, I admit, there are some things about the others that I hold dear, but it is you whom I adore and just can’t wait to see again.

I keep thinking of the times when we used to walk in the park or go running and bike riding outside in the fresh air, and then the nights I would sleep with the window open, your rose and lilac perfume wafting through the window and tickling my dreams. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to smell and feel you now.

So come back dear Spring. I heard you were coming back to town in a few weeks and I am counting the days. It’s hard to believe you’ll be here soon when I hear Mother Winter will once again come visit my house. But I will keep the vision of green grass and budding trees in my heart and listen for the songbird singing your name.

I will be hear waiting, but please hurry because I can’t wait to see you again!

Love,

me