For a year now, I have taken this class next to Leilani, who stands just a little shallower in the pool than I. Today, as we were warming up, one topic led to another. We were talking about getting rid of “things” and she told me a niece had asked for her lighthouse collection, and how was she going to mail them all to her, some of them were almost two feet high?
“Easy-peasy,” I said, “You know those storage tubs people buy at Target? You can use bubble wrap and ship them in those containers. They give fragile items a lot of protection.”
Leilani laughed and said how funny it was she didn’t know that because her husband had been a postman after his retirement from the military.
“Nice!” I said. “Two pensions!”
“Not really,” she said, “The day he retired he came home and handed me divorce papers. He’d been planning this for a long time. ”
“Another girl?” I asked.
“No,” she laughed sadly, “He was greedy. He said ‘You’ll never see a penny of my money.”
“I hope you got a good lawyer” I said.
“I did.” She didn’t look happy. “I had raised the four children, so I got parts of both pensions AND alimony. I don’t need a lot. I was happy.”
I asked if he had been the kind of man who had planned to walk out on her and leave her with nothing, if he had also been mean and stingy during their marriage, and if a part of her found peace when he left. She said because of the four children she would never have left him, but that yes, her life was better when he was no longer there.
“Money doesn’t make a person happy,” she said. “Things don’t make a person happy. You know he went and got a beautiful luxury apartment, and died just a few years later. He had emphysema from smoking all the time. No one to help him. So I went there every day, took him a meal because he couldn’t do for himself. I sat with him at night. I was there when he took his final breath.”
“And you know what he would do while I was out of the room? He would take out his money and count it. It never brought him any happiness.”
My pool friend is one of the sweetest hearted women I have ever met. In all this time, she has never said a bad word about her husband, and she was there by his side as he died. There is no bitterness in her, no anger; she didn’t resent him, she let all those feelings go and did the kind thing for a dying man.
I call this cross-cultural, because she is Hawaiian, and I have seen this kind of serenity in my Hawaiian friends and acquaintances. They are willing to let go of grudges, they are willing to move on. They have generous hearts. I feel like I learned something from her today.
We are usually two trips out. By that, I mean that while we are getting close to one trip, we are usually planning the next trip. It just works out that way, and it gives us something to look forward to even when one trip is over . . . there is always the next trip.
While we were still planning our three week trip to the American Southwest and California Coast last March – April, AdventureMan shouted from his office to mine “Why do I keep getting these brochures from Viking Cruises?” I was shaking with laughter. “Because I signed you up!” I replied.
We are getting older. We tire more easily. It’s just the way life goes, and we need to focus on how we can continue doing what we love. We need to explore other strategies, other ways of doing things. So we decided to look at cruises to Istanbul and beyond, and after two hours of looking around, ended up choosing a Smithsonian trip to Spain and Morocco. For us, it is totally normal. We toss ideas back and forth, and all of a sudden, something will click.
AdventureMan was on the phone, booking the sea and land cruise within two hours of the start of the conversation. We knew we wanted a balcony and we also knew that flying business class would help us adjust to the jet lag involved, so we could hit the ground running.
And yes, we already have our next trip booked 🙂
I relished having a day off from my volunteer job. A sudden cold front moved in; the daily temperatures are still in the nineties, but the early morning temperature was in the low seventies, and will be going lower. I started the day, once again, with a big smile.
There are obligations I have each morning; the expects to be fed and he has an inner timepiece that is amazingly accurate. Unfortunately, it doesn’t understand “days off” so I have to get up at my normal time to feed him, give him his medications, grab a cup of coffee and head for my scripture readings.
My computer has become increasingly buggy, but today, it won’t charge. Sure enough, there is a tiny puncture – a bite – along its slender length. Just one, but one is enough to keep my machine from charging.
It’s not the only thing. Just yesterday, I found my settings changed; the time was set for somewhere in China, the date was goofy, it was just weird.
I was headed for the nearby base, so I called my friend who has taken a spill and can’t get around and asked if she needed anything from the commissary. She didn’t sound like herself. I asked what was up, and she told me she had to have her faithful kitty of 17 years put to sleep; it was time. We both wept. I stopped by later, after grocery shopping and buying a new, tiny, svelte MacBook Air, and we wept some more. The vet had thanked her for making the decision, and said her bloodworm had shown she was in misery in so many ways. She was a great kitty. My friend said she wishes it were so easy for human beings, that we could just humanely end it, and we wept some more.
When I met up with AdventureMan, he could see I was shaken and we talked over a good Bento Box lunch at Ichiban. He, too, said he would prefer to end his life to lingering on in suffering. His plan (I laugh and tell him he doesn’t ALWAYS get his way, which comes as a huge shock to him) is that he will go first, but that if he doesn’t, he thinks he will not last long without me.
It’s probably true. We have become greatly intertwined these forty three years.
And we talked of Zakat, who has now been well, totally well, for four whole weeks. His fur is full and gorgeous, his eyes are clear, he hasn’t lost any teeth, and he plays like a kitten. We know it is the antibiotics, and that it can’t last forever, but we will celebrate as long as it does last, that there are medications and God’s mercy to allow him a sweet life off the streets – while it lasts.
And then the tedium of transferring all my data from one computer to the other.
We are caring for our grandson, now a full kindergartener, who attends a school nearby. We pick him up, we bring him home. AdventureMan takes him to parks and museums, I take him shopping and on errands. He is so much fun, and we love hearing his stories.
He came in Friday with a necklace with red hearts. “I got it from the treasure box!” he told me.
“What did you do?” I asked. “What was it that you did that you got to take something from the treasure box?”
He looked at me with his big blue eyes and his expressive face and said “I have NO idea!”
We were laughing so hard we could barely stand. The day before, he had told us that no, his mommy and daddy had not bought his backpack. He explained that they let him choose a backpack online, and click on it. “Then someone puts it in a box and sends it to you!” It was a huge surprise to him that Mommy and Daddy had indeed paid for it.
License plate seen in Pensacola:
No, no, I didn’t sleep in. But I slept well. Tired yesterday after a killer combination of water aerobics and a meeting held at my house (prep, execution, clean-up) I was ready for bed earlier than usual, but Zakat was ready to party, and was exploring surfaces where he could play his favorite game called “knock things off.” I am heartless. I said no, a couple times, distracted him (briefly) after which he went right back to partying. Finally, I put him out of the room and closed the door.
Zakat is a sweet little cat, the sweetest of all the cats we have had. He doesn’t complain, just goes about his business elsewhere, and when he sees me in the morning, he is eager to love.
I slept wonderfully. I sleep better now than I ever slept when I was younger. I used to worry about things, wake up in the middle of the night and try to solve problems. I’ve gotten a lot better about letting things go.
Although I can sleep in, I slept so well that I was awake and ready to go at my regular time, and Zakat’s tummy doesn’t know it’s Saturday.
AdventureMan rolls out of bed; we are not in a hurry to get started. We are meeting up with a family group tonight for dinner, but we have nothing pressing until then. AdventureMan thinks he might plant a Limelight sage in a shadier corner of the garden, and I might do some quilting – or I might not.
When we retired, we had no idea how busy and compelling life would be, with our grandchildren and family, our church, our pursuits, our activities, and our friends. The weeks fly by, happy weeks, and we are all the happier for having a lazy Saturday.
There is a huge problem with the Cabrillo Lighthouse hike, and it is obvious from the very beginning. It is only a half mile, and it is downhill all the way.
What’s the problem, you might ask?
Well, if it is downhill all the way getting there, then coming back, it will be a half mile all . . . . What? You fill in the blank.
But it is another gorgeous day on the California sea coast, and it is a glorious day for a hike, even uphill.
There is a wonderful story about a man who came to take the lighthouse keeper position, but he wasn’t married and only married keepers were allowed to live in the lighthouse keeper’s house. So a local girl – maybe the daughter of the previous lighthouse keeper – volunteered to marry him, and they stayed married the rest of their lives.
I love using natural means to bioengineer against erosion loss:
This was on GoodReads Books today:
what we mean
by Maya Stein
I took out the trash to apologize. You made dinner to thank me for finishing
our taxes. I stayed on the couch for my bad mood. You went to bed early
for yours. The croissant, a peace offering. Two loads of laundry,
repentance. The sidewalk you shoveled while I slept, something resembling
forgiveness. When the words fail, the house still rings with conversation,
its rooms, wide mouths, the unswept floors, a burgeoning embrace. A kiss waits
inside every spent tube of toothpaste. When the milk sours, we fall in love
all over again. So I am saving the garage for the hard argument.
You are keeping the basement
in your back pocket.
. . . says AdventureMan, as he takes me to lunch and to a movie on Valentine’s Day.
It’s a perfect stretch, from my birthday to Valentine’s Day. AdventureMan bought the beautiful white roses at Celebrations, a wonderful shop in Pensacola. What I love the most is that the flowers they use last and last. My flowers, more than a week old now, are just beginning to droop, just a tiny bit. They are still unspotted and unstained, glorious in their pristine whiteness, glowing in our foyer. I still feel the glow. 🙂
My sweet son and daughter-in-law invited us for a shared birthday dinner and we had a wonderful, laughter-filled time, talking books, talking kids, laughing, laughing, and the 1 1/2 year old is starting to really talk and to get the convenience of oral communication. She wants to be a part of everything! The birthday boy and I had a wonderful time, tickling and laughing and sharing jokes. It was a great evening.
Lunch was in Gulf Breeze, at Rotolo’s, where they have great salads and thin crust pizzas, and then we went to see the spellbinding (if you are a nerd and love complex thinking) Imitation Game, which we both enjoyed thoroughly. We are so totally geeks; this was the perfect Valentine’s Day movie for us.
Every now and then, after all these years, I can still crack my husband up by saying something unexpected.
Retirement carries some unexpected adjustments. There was a time, when he was managing a major contract in Germany, where over dinner, I once told AdventureMan I needed him to look at me and to listen. He looked at me in horror; he told me later he thought I was leaving him. No. No. I just looked at him and told him that I am very independent, but that at least once, every single day of our lives together, I need five minutes of his undivided attention.
“Five minutes isn’t much,” he said to me.
“Five minutes is more than I am getting now,” I responded. I knew he was busy, and under a lot of stress, but relationships require nurturing, and I knew I could get by on five minutes, as long as I could count on that five minutes to stay connected.
Now, years later, the shoe is on the other foot. AdventureMan LOVES retirement, and he comes into my office all the time to tell me about a new Tiger Swallowtail in his garden, or to update me on our financial worth, or to use me as a sounding board for a political item that has come up in his garden club.
There are times I need focus. All the years we were married, I had that time, and more, I had all this time to myself, and I learned how to fill and manage my time. I rarely had to coordinate anything with AdventureMan, he just trusted me to manage the house and finances and making sure everything was in its place.
Once he had time, I had to learn how to share my time. I also had to let go of a lot of control. The first time he organized and cleaned out the garage, I almost had a heart attack. He was so proud! And I was so horrified! I am very logical, and more than a little compulsive, and I knew where everything was, in its logical place, and now . . . things were, very literally, out of control. A part of me wanted to kill him, and another part of me said “hey, cool, now you don’t have to clean out the garage, he he he” but making that gain meant giving up control over where things were!
AdventureMan started cooking, and suddenly pots and pans and measuring spoons were not where they were “supposed” to be. AdventureMan took over the garden, and I danced for joy at not having to go out and water in the heat, but I lost control over what was planted out there.
It’s hard. We are both managers, and both very good at it. We’ve had to draw some lines. I’ve had to share territory I always thought of as mine, and he has had to consult with me, when he would much rather carry out his plans directly.
We’ve both had to draw some lines. We don’t touch stuff in one another’s offices. We consult. When I clean out the pantry, the first thing I do is show him the logic, even put little signs so he will know where to find things when he is cooking. I put up with things ending up in the wrong place, except for the spice drawers, where all the normal cooking herbs and in spices are in the left drawer and all the chilis and peppers and exotic herbs are in the right drawer, with all the teas. It can be irrational, but sometimes it is the smallest things that matter.
From time to time, I need a pocket of silence.
I welcome my sweet husband into my office; he is always welcome. From time to time, however, if I am working on paying bills or a blog post or designing a quilt, or trying to get my readings done for my bible study, I tell him I can listen for five minutes, and then I need a pocket of silence.
The first time I said it, he looked at me in horrified disbelief, what I was saying was so astonishing to him that he couldn’t even take it in. Once he comprehended, he started laughing, and now he tells his friends he has a wife who needs her “pockets of silence” – and I do. As he has become more relaxed and stress free, he has become chattier. As I live a life of commitments and connections in retirement, I need some times with no talking.
I need silence in my life the way some people need to be around other people hanging out. Silence refreshes me. Silence helps me focus, helps me think things through and develop a strategy. I am never bored with silence; for me silence is a resource I use with great respect and gratitude. I love my family and my friends, and then – I need a pocket of silence.