Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Every Four Years ...

Eight years ago my father passed away. I really loved him. He was strong and self-confident and all of those things that men are suppose to be. And then he was no more. Sometime after the last eulogy was read, the last song was sung, and the casket was lowered into the ground I went to his house and cleaned it out. It was an act of total stupidity. I rejected the offer of my wife and a close friend and I did it myself. That isn't exactly true. I sorted through their stuff and filled two dumpsters with family memories. And then I hired teenagers from McDonald's to help me load the rented truck and bring the furniture to my mom's new apartment one half of a mile from my house.

Cleaning out their home was brutal. I paid an enormous emotional price.

Four years ago today I buried my mom. We placed her earthly remains next to dad's in the Arkansas cemetery. And it was time to clean out another dwelling. My amazing wife did most of the work this time. She grabbed a few friends and did the sorting and tossing out of memories. I only had to deal with the major furniture. That was hard enough. I really loved my mom just like I did my dad. I still miss them both more than I can say. Last week I was back in the town we all lived in when my mom died. I drove past her old apartment and just parked the car for a minute. Remembering.

And last week my house sold. And so next week I will be going back one more time and cleaning out a place of memories. Blessedly, nobody had to die this time. But this is the place where we raised our children into the awesome adults that they are today. Every room has an abundance of memories. And the garage? The garage is filled full to overflowing with their stuff. Souvenirs ranging from preschool to college. Pictures of wonderful times. Items that hung on my refrigerator door for years.

I have learned sometimes that it is best to simply turn your brain off. Put it in neutral. Let it run out of gas. Do anything but allow it to roam freely. Sometimes it is best to refuse to look backward and simply focus on the task at hand. Or dream about joys coming up in future days. Onward and upward.

I don't know what life will look like four years from now. Given my recent history this concerns me. I have never been the sad type. My life has been more defined by joy and exuberance for living than by gloom. But geez. This cycle has to be broken. Three times in a row is more than enough. I have often noticed an odd symmetry to life but this is ridiculous. And so I am giving my family and friends ample notice. The year 2012 will be joy-filled. Dying will not be tolerated. Those who relocate far away will be scorned. I don't want so much as a fender bender in a car or a pet that has to be put to sleep. I want more grandkids by then and I want them bouncing on my knee and slobbering up my face with their kisses. I want hugs and holding hands and loud laughter bouncing off the rafters. I will be 57 years old. My hair will be even more gray than it is now and I will be celebrating every one that is left on my head. It WILL be a GREAT year.

But for now? One more house. One more dumpster. One more time.


Anonymous said...

This made me cry; we'll be going through my mom's things soon.

Here's hoping 2012 is uneventful. Or at least eventful in a good way.

Ron said...

Nicole, you and your family are in my prayers. I know how tough it is. But the love of God ... is sufficient. Hang tuff...


Anonymous said...

I understand those feelings. Let your friends prop you up next week... and don't forget the blessed memories that make us smile, laugh, and even sometimes cry a bit. You are loved by many!