Saturday, September 27, 2008

Random Autumn Thoughts

It's a beautiful, crisp, sunny autumn day, and Gregg and David have gone over to my parents' house to move their float. This is a twice-yearly event that weighs heavily on my dad's mind until it is done. In the fall, they detach the float from the dock and tow it into a nearby bay (for storage over the winter months). With winter storm winds and waves, the float could damage the dock, or even break away (and be lost), so this keeps everything safe. In the spring, Gregg and David go back into the bay, tow the float out, and re-attach it to the dock. My dad is restless until these two tasks have been done.

While they are gone, I have been pruning our mint and lavender plants. This is a fun job, partly because both of these kinds of plants smell so good! It's like being inside of a teabag. Surrounded by blue sky, blue water and all different shades of lush green vegetation, I worked until had to take a break, to come inside and sit down, as my back started to seize up.

If you know me at all, you know that I am not a gardener by any stretch of the imagination. This year, however, I have started to see the pleasure in it. I told Gregg that I'd prefer to prune the plants than go to the grocery store while they move the float, but that I'd like to go with him when he gets back. Gregg's reply was, "You really must not want to go to the store, if you'd rather work in the garden." So I'm not known as a gardener around here, but it's a pleasure on a day like this, especially since A) No one is pushing me to do it, B) I can stop if I'm exhausted, C) I can see the results of my work easily, and D) I'm saving money (by doing it myself)!

And it's true: I just don't like grocery shopping since Katie passed away; I don't know why. Maybe it's because I had some weird encounters with people at the store in the early days, but whatever it is, I dread grocery shopping now. It takes me twice as long to shop alone as it does if Gregg or David goes with me. I get sidetracked, and into sensory-overload at the store, if I go alone. I should add that our local stores are awesome. The nearest one is HUGE, full of gourmet goodies and fresh ideas; the produce is beyond compare, as is the meat department. I just can't take it all in without going into a sort of trance, these days. Then, I always see someone (or several people) I know, which is okay, but that slows me down even more.

I have a friend who didn't like to put gas in her car's tank after her son died, so I know that it's not unusual to take a dislike to something ordinary like this. It's just an odd aversion for me to have, but I push through it, or wait until we can go together. I wonder if it will pass.

Tennis is going well for David. He has won all but two of his matches, and he is fun to watch. The most important thing, to me, is that he is learning from the games and enjoying the cameraderie of his peers. His classes are interesting, and a few good extra-curricular opportunities have arisen, so we shall see what comes to pass. I am proud of what a nice young man he is; can you tell? We are blessed to be the parents of both David and Katie.

Someone at a tennis match recently asked me how many kids I have, and I answered, "Two: David, and our daughter Katie, who passed away last August." This shocked the person who asked, and he was clearly uncomfortable with my answer. Gregg and I discussed it later, and Gregg thought I had made it difficult. I disagree. I have two children; one is here and one is elsewhere, but I am the mother of two kids, and that will always be the case. I don't mind explaining it at all. It's not a problem; I had two kids intentionally, and I still am the mother of both of them. Katie is part of our family, and she always will be; she just doesn't live here with us now.


Jennifer Stumpf said...

I think your problem at the grocery store is an anxiety related problem. I've had anxiety attacks for years, debilitating ones, and large stores send my head a-whirl. In your case, perhaps it will pass with time.

Suz said...

Your garden sounds very pretty. I also don't like to garden much, mostly because it is SO hot here. I sweat just walking to get the mail...
I am also thinking the grocery store problem is anxiety related. Running into people. having to act a certain way, even if you don't feel that way. (good mood, happy etc..)
I too hope it passes for you.
As far as answering how many children you have, I would have done the same thing. I think people's reactions to your answer catches them off guard. They don't know how to reply to it. I really understand that too. The loss of a child is so unfathomable to most parents. They don't know what to say. But you should never feel bad about your explanation either.
I think it may get easier for you in the future Karen.
Take care,

Kay said...

Your garden sounds wonderful... and of course, I love herbal teas.. so YUM!

I've had this discussion with several moms I know about THE dreaded question (how many kids do you have?). It is a hard one to answer. There isn't a right or wrong answer to that. And you certainly don't need to apologize or protect people from the truth. In the 'early days' I used to tell evvverybody that asked that I had two kids.. one died etc. Later I began to just say 'one' sometimes. It depends on the situation. Yes it's sad to say that, but sometimes its 'easier' than the alternative. But I've also had the other problem where people *assume* that I have an 'only child' and make all sorts of assumptions based on that 'fact', which bothers me too. So I've had to turn around later and fill them in on the rest of the story. I peronally think it can be a tricky question just about every time I get asked it. But like I said, my answer varies...esp depending on if I'll ever see this person again in my life again, kinda stuff.

You just need to say what works best for you. It will be right whether the receiver is comfortable or not. : )

Laurie Keller said...

I love your answer ...

Sheri said...

That is always hard, answering when people ask how many children we have. Sometimes I just don't want to get into it or don't want to say it, but then am siezed by a sense of disloyalty if I do not acknowledge I have another son. I have yet to master this one, but when I do answer with Joseph included in the mix, I make sure to smile when I say it and if the person seems to not know what to say, to acknowledge their discomfort by telling them it is okay to ask questions. It seems to give them permission to inquire and then I help the conversation flow along to other things most of the time. Its exhausting, but I do realize most people have no idea how to react and I can pity them for that to a degree. But like you, I am reluctant to let the discomfort of others stop me from saying his name and acknowledging he was here and is still one of my children. You will find your own way with this. Its a tough one and I have heard it takes about five years to figure out a comfortable way to deal with that question.

I think you did just fine.