Sunday, October 23, 2016

He's Driving

He's a great driver.  He's cautious, and that means we end up with a line of cars behind us, and so it's not really about him making a mistake so much as other people making one while in a hurry to get somewhere. 

I see families with lots of little kids and think, "Oh my God.  So many driver's ed miles they have to endure."  That's where we are now. 

We made it to the smaller city - one closer in size to the town Tom and I grew up nearby, and had Jack pull us into a parking lot near the courthouse, where not only did my baby park a car in the middle of a bustling town, but we all realized in unison that he'll be voting in the next election.  Who knows where he'll be in four years.  I was in Bloomington, Indiana.  A freshman in college.  Clinton beat Bush.  I voted for Ross Perot.  Jack could also be in Bloomington.  I don't know.  It's wild when the kid is old enough that you're thinking, 'Four years from now, he'll be voting.'  Maybe he'll drive me.  Maybe I'll still be Instagraming those milestones.  Will that be weird? 

It's a lovely time for us. 

We've found an adorable place for lunch in this nearby town.  Pick got a grilled cheese.  Jack a monty cristo.  Tom's always with the salads lately, and I have a favorite chicken salad sandwich, because of the cumin and avocado.  We sat and we laughed, and it's what you dream about when you bring them home - that once they get old enough, they'll like being a part of your life, and things will be richer for it, and time will feel more precious, even just eating sandwiches.

Tom is off with Pick at the moment, salvaging for this year's epic Halloween idea.  Jack is in the other room using his break time to get ahead in Geometry.  He's learning postulates.  I'm supposed to be reading James Lenman for a discussion tomorrow night, but a storm is rumbling in, making the backyard leaves pop in front of deep blue.  Too distracting.

These moments make me the proudest, in the midst of all that's happening.  I don't think ahead to the next big thing these days, but just sit and look around and make sure to remember.  Not because I know it's all going to change again, but because of a promise I made to myself years ago that I would fully appreciate the accomplishments once we got here. 

My kid is driving. 
My MERLD kid.


All These Places...

Every special place I've been since that night in the long blue dress on Bourbon Street - my 40th birthday - I have had you with me, I promise.  You wrote me that night while I stood lost in the streets in a blur of life - I knew where I was, but I didn't know who I was - and you wrote to me, my saint, and those words have stayed with me always.   
I didn't know I'd lose you, but maybe someone did for the both of us. 
I'll never forget how hard you tried not to show me your pain, how hard you hugged me like you knew it would be the last time, and how awful it was to be in that same space without you just a few months after, knowing I would never see you again.

You made me appreciate my life again, make the most of all of it since.
There have been so many cliffs, so many things just outside my comfort zone.  I hear your voice, though, that laugh, and I take a breath.  Every brave moment has been because of you.  You should be here.  It's not fair that you're not.

I miss you.
© Copyright 2016 Angeline Larimer

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Learner's Permit


In Indiana, you pass the written part of the driver's test before you get your permit.  All he needs to do now is practice until March, when he takes the driving test portion, and then it's another milestone crossed off the list.

So proud of him for this. 

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Missed Pets

Stanley (1999 - 2013) & Wina (2001 - 2015)

I have always had pets.  There were a few months in college when I didn't take them with me, but they were waiting for me when I got home for the holidays, and as soon as I could have them again, I got more.  There was no time during my childhood when there wasn't at least three or more animals running around the property to love, and now every single time I lose one to old age, I think of all of them, and all their unique stories stuck in my memory forever.

There aren't a lot of dramatic stories about Lana I'm realizing right now, however, because she was always with me.  From the first night I put her out of her crate the summer of 2005 and she jumped into my bed to snuggle, to two nights ago as she slept at my feet during President Obama's speech at the DNC, she was there.

Sitting here at the desk waiting on the boys to return.  I've done a lot of crying already.  Knew this was going to happen about five days ago, when Lana refused a dog biscuit.  She's thirteen.  We've had her eleven years now.  The last couple of years, she developed large cysts that would be too traumatic to remove, then lost all of her hearing, and often had ear infections.  I bathed her more in the last six months than all of the other years combined.  I bathed her yesterday morning, just to be able to do something for her, and she let me trim her sensitive areas with the scissors - something she never ever let me do before.  I cried into the bath water as she stood up a time or two with some remaining dignity, needing to relieve herself.  Tom was at work.  The kids were being teenagers throughout the house.  I yelled eventually, "Someone please get the door!" as I carried my old dog outside into the sun to dry off.  I carried her back inside a half hour later, and at one moment during the day, she was staring at me from across the room.  I knew she wanted to be outside again, so out we went, but she didn't let me take her back inside.  She made it under a bush, and rested, still staring at me, so I let her be.  All afternoon, we'd check on her, and she'd have moved.  Last night, Tom got home around 10 pm, wanting to see her, and it took all of them over an hour with flashlights to finally find her - hiding under a step porch to the south of the house.

"She wants to be left alone," I said. 
Tom was surprised by my response, but I feel like I've been through this so much these last five years - pets, people - I'm getting faster at accepting what's inevitable.

I thought she'd be gone in the morning, but she wasn't, and I couldn't stand the gnats flying around her, so I lifted her into the barn and the air conditioning.  She didn't want me to pat her.  There was a sense that she didn't want me to see her in that condition, but really it was the pain that she was in which made her distance herself.    Her last break outside, I sat with her in the grass and smoothed my hand across her coat, and she got up to get away from me, heading back to hide underneath the back porch.  She has never in all of the eleven years that she has been with me tried to get away from me.  She is the dog who was always at my feet.  Possibly every blog post (except this one) had her lying near enough to see me, but most often, resting next to the tips of my toes.

Losing Stanley was very hard.  He represented something about our life together, Tom's and mine, and how we started with a tiny apartment that was only big enough for us and one cat, to the spread we finally settled upon, with more pets and two children in tow.  We got him as a young married couple working the summer at the same factory where we'd met.  Stan was a tiny abandoned kitten I took home after working a late shift of overtime, and he was our pre-kids pet who used to get spoiled rotten, and driven everywhere with us.

He ran away once and couldn't be found for six weeks, but I always believed he was still out there - and then one night a girl called and said, "Your cat just came up to our back porch."  He was twenty miles away.  We had him another six years or so, and his illness came and went enough times, I thought he'd never die.   The timing of when he did get too sick to keep hoping was terrible.  I'd had to be away for the week before.  HAD to go.  Tom took him to the vet after we got back, and in his grief, took pictures for some reason while he waited for the sleep medicine to take effect.  I saw the pictures months later as I was uploading his photos to our collection, and was horrified by how bad Stanley looked.  Tom had spared me the visual on the day he took him.  He put a hand out to me and said, "I'm going to see what the vet says," and I didn't get to say goodbye.  Sort of like Stan, though, to be extreme about it.  I didn't get to say goodbye, and it crushed me.  The loss of control of the situation, the lack of preparedness, and the awareness that we were not ready yet for the next phase of life... that's what I think about when Stanley passed.

Wina was much better.  Such an independent, she was struggling to walk, make it out-of-doors in time, but by the time we knew we'd have to make a choice, she took the burden off our shoulders.  I got to hold her awhile on the floor of living room, and she fell asleep, peaceful, and then I placed her on her dogbed for the evening, knowing she had the appointment at the vet in the morning.  She died in her sleep for me, sparing me that ride, that break down in front of the vet technicians.  It was such a kind thing for her to do.

Lana (2003 - 2016)
Lana was a combination of both.  She got sick quickly, but was an old dog for well over a year - missing her friend Wina the entire time.  I knew she was going, nothing to be done, and I felt guilty for being gone so much over her final year of life.  When she did go, I didn't just notice her missing spirit, but the swingset that had gotten removed earlier in the summer, the ornery cat who got dive bombed by the barn swallows, and the barking terrier who kept the yard free of moles.  I noticed the gray in my hair, and the height of my children, and I wasn't quite ready for that chapter of magical childhood to close. 

I'm not a young woman with two small children and three high energy pets at my ankles all day any longer, and it's too quiet now. 

Goodbye, sweet Lana.

© Copyright 2016 Angeline Larimer
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