A post by Liz Flaherty. A friend who inspires me.
© Copyright 2013 Angeline Larimer
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Merry Christmas From Stanley, originally uploaded by Life in the Pumpkin Shell.
We are very sad these days. Our beloved pain in the ass His Majesty Stan the cat had to be put to sleep on December 2nd.
He was my best animal friend. I've had pets all my life. Stan was the one who controlled me with his mind and bended me to his will like a slave unaware of her chains. I wept on several occasions when he went missing. I wept again when he returned home, stunned and annoyed and curious as to why I seemed so emotional. I tracked and rescued dozens of his undead kill. I laughed my ass off on the days the birds of the yard swooped him as he took his constitutional (until the day he put up a well timed paw and brought one of the creatures down like King Kong on top the Empire State building)...
When he was a kitten, young and sweet and adorable, he would sit on my lap in the car, or get bored and then ride on my shoulders as I drove.
In recent months, he has followed me around the house for minutes (cat hours) waiting for me to sit so that he could fluffen up my lap and lie there comfortably for his early nap.
I met Stan in the summer of 1999. I was working second shift on the line at a factory to earn money for grad school. After dinner that day, I rushed back through the outside break area, hoping to catch the bell on time, and I noticed some women giving a kitten milk from the vending machines. "He was here two days ago and so-n-so took him home, but she can't keep him. I hope someone can keep him," is all I heard.
My boss asked me to work overtime as soon as I got back to the line, so at 2 am I was finally off work, tired, looking for someone to give me a cigarette, and I found that another tenderhearted woman had taken over the concern for the kitten in the box by the break room door. "He's so little. I hate for him to have to sit out here in this box all night..." she said to me.
Sucker that I have always been, I made eye contact with him (and I tried so very hard not to) and that was it.
"I'll take him."
He rode in my lap the entire drive home, and he slept on my chest that night, licking my chin.
Tom named him the next day.
And then a thousand other stories happened with Stan as the main character.
That choice to say, "I'll take him," has always been too easy to make for me. You'd think by now I'd remember how it feels to say goodbye, but I don't seem to have the self protective mechanism to deny two sad abandoned eyes.
I've insisted on no more cats this time, though. My foot has been put down. It's too hard.
We'll probably have a couple kittens soon enough, consequently. That's how it goes.
I will never ever forget Stanley, though. My cat through two pregnancies, lots and lots of worry and stress and growing up. His eyes saw a lot of things. All of our dear friends had excellent laps, he felt. Stan had his favorites. Laps he'd quickly abandon mine to grace. I always knew when he took another lap, then casually looked my way, what he was really saying was, "This lap is much nicer than yours," but what I deluded myself into believing was that he was giving me his approval of that gift of that lap. Like the half dead rodents he presented to me over the years, my friends were similarly presented to him, and he enjoyed them much more than I enjoyed his terrified creatures. (They are all rejoicing, by the way.)
Last night I saw the spot where I used to fill his food bowl so often in my sleep (Tom cleared the bowl away, but the habit is still strong) and I thought I saw Stan. I still think I see him. I think the scratching on the door is his, his, "LET ME IN!" pissed off way he had, but then I'll look at the door, see beyond the screen down by the garden and know he's under the ground and gone.
Of course, a few times I've watched long enough to reassure myself he's not coming back up from his grave as a zombie. That's just like something he would do to me. He was a cat who never seemed to be stopped by life.
I will miss him terribly.
STAN PHOTOS on FLICKR
All the Stanley Stories on Life in the Pumpkin Shell
From a recent story about Jack (which made me have to go change up the laundry and blow my nose into a clean towel after I bawled for ten minutes) ...
"You looked tired. Are you tired?"
"I think so."
"Did you sleep all right last night?"
"No. I had bad dreams."
"What can we do to stop that?"
"Hmmm. Where's Stanley?"
Jack is now asleep, his arm around the happy cat.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Happy Halloween 2013!
For you, friends.
I hope you are all very well.
The gang and I spent last weekend putting this together with our friends Chep, her hubby Mr. Chep, Kyle, Kelly, the dogs, the ponies and a shit ton of instruments that came from all over the state of Indiana.
We haven't spent this much time together in far too long.
I needed it.
If you've been reading, you know I've been sad.
I'm okay. I'm transitioning. Don't worry. I hear everyone goes through something, and in my case, it's much more of my own making than those I've been worrying over.
The wonderful thing that has happened (I found myself explaining to a friend earlier today) is that after 12 years of focusing on the kids, then having to step back and take care of myself, my beautiful boy has been looking out for me. He's too empathetic, that one. When my spirits sank, he was there asking, "Are you okay?" He was asking what he could do for me. How he could help. Why I was sad. What could he do?
Incredible to me. There were posts nine years ago that went, "Will he ever talk to me??? Will we ever have a conversation? Is he ever going to distinguish between the W questions?" and so on.
Now he's the one who kisses my cheek 'just because' and cleans up the dishes 'because you do so much.'
I hope those of you who have written to inquire about him and MERLD will watch this video and take heart. Gigantic heart! You deserve to know what is coming.
Tom and Pick have been wonderful and patient as well. Pick is growing up too fast. It's likely that's had an impact on me and my melancholia. She's dealing with social issues at school, getting older, the tween stuff that breaks you up. Things we all shudder about when we dig up those repressed memories. She still wants her mom, consequently, so we curl up on the couch together and talk about her day. Not everything has changed, then.
The rest of the Pumpkinshellers are still with us, though Stan gave us a scare that week and Wina can't hear much any more. I have to stomp to get her attention, poor thing.
But we're still together.
Still love Halloween.
Still thinking of all of you.
You should keep in touch better!
(I gave you a BIG hint this was coming back at the beginning of September. Hopeless Wanderers.)
© Copyright 2013 Angeline Larimer
Saturday, September 07, 2013
I did it. I got to the top of the Holden, and it was tough. 5.10b self belay. The first time I got up, all of my limbs were shaking. I'm surprised at the end of this climb, because I thought I'd be too exhausted to do it again. (I'd also climbed the crack earlier, which was extremely difficult because of how hot it was up top. My fingers slipped five times and my middle finger is a little tender from getting caught, which I knew was bound to happen, but frankly just don't care.)
But what I learned from this climb is how much easier things are the second time around, because you already know you can do it.
A good climbing day.
This sport makes me so happy.
© Copyright 2013 Angeline Larimer
Friday, September 06, 2013
((I have a bit of an addiction problem with the app Untappd, and the quest to acquire more badges. To compensate for all the boring photos one takes of one's beer as proof of consumption, I try and pose my daily life in the background, and in this case, my dear son Jack... which is the only picture I managed of him working. What has happened to me?? I used to take hundreds of photos a day of my children. ))
The garden is in its harvest phase. My tomatoes took forever to ripen, and then school started, and I never transition well between summer and school starting, so the garden becomes that place that seems a bit overwhelming since I know that in only a few hours, the children will require me to go through the afternoon's paperwork. It's a sad solitary job, saucing and canning alone. Also, I now associate grasshoppers with being left behind by everyone.
Thank goodness the hummingbirds are such needy bastards. They can be the only interaction I have aside from the dogs, and even they seem sad by the new quiet of fall creeping upon us all.
I'm making sauce now.
I was making sauce yesterday. Heavyhearted. Bad BAD night yesterday night. Woke up the way Pick used to go to bed. The grief of everything making me miserable. Couldn't sleep. Couldn't get my gut to calm down.
Could be that I was on my feet for at least 17 miles the day before, and my chemistry was working against me. Was most likely it. OR the Taco Bell I ate, after being so careful to eat well for so long. Or other things, but probably those first two mostly. I woke up at 4:30 crying. It's getting old. You don't have to tell me. This is not me, not necessary, and it didn't happen this morning, so ...
Yesterday I made sauce.
The writing, I decided, was too dark, too raw, and my food will rot if I don't do something about it now, so to the garden I went! Came back in with pounds and pounds. I have no idea how much. Work is always a good distraction. If need be, kick the grasshoppers off. Watch the butterflies awhile, dancing over the zinnias. I was in a zoned out meditative state over the sink when I heard the bus brakes squeak.
Jack came home, put his book bag down on the floor and said, "Hi, mom. Oh. I see you're making sauce. Can I help?"
I said, "Sure. What would you like to do?"
"I'll run the smoosher if you cut the tomatoes for me."
We worked happily side-by-side.
He said, "You sure work hard," and I stifled a sniffle.
He has noticed lately...
He heard me crying the other night and came to our bedroom door and said, "Is mom alright?"
I was trying very hard not to be heard.
"She is, buddy. Go back to bed," Tom said.
"I'm sorry," I whispered after Jack's door closed again.
"He's alright," Tom said. "He loves you. You did a great job with that boy."
I thought about this a lot. It was a very kind thing for my husband to tell me at that moment. He relieved the guilt, AND gave me a compliment. He could have said that the crying was getting old and was starting to impact the children, but he did not.
My goal, passionate as it has always been, was to help Jack achieve self sufficiency. I never imagined I would raise a son who would achieve the emotional maturity that Jack has achieved this August, and Tom does not take credit for this. He has given me that honor.
Not perfect. Still a teen. But a boy who gets out of his bed at midnight to the sound of sobs elsewhere and asks if everything is alright.
It's a tremendous relief to know he is a kind boy.
He was once not supposed to be able to take care of himself. Now I can sense a wonderful husband and father in him. I can't begin to express how comforting that dream is to me, given where I've come from, and what used to pass as standards for those two roles... We were always supposed to raise strapping sons with sharp brains, but I've got one who cares about feelings, too.
He senses mine better than anyone else. Always has, now that I think about it. I don't always know that he's paying attention to them, but then I get reminders from time to time and have to check myself, because he cares very deeply about my happiness. He needs me to be happy. It is our bond that we built over a long stretch of symbiotic faith in one another.
I stifled the teary-eyed reaction to him saying I work hard, and continued to chop. He looked at me, stared at my face, then kissed my cheek.
It is almost too much.
(The last several nights, as I've walked by his room on my way to bed, he has called out, "I love you, mom! Good night!" He didn't used to say that. I used to have to prompt him for it, and before then, he couldn't say anything close to that at all. Now it's all him.)
I got distracted from my duties while trying to photograph my beer, and so he took the tray to the sink, started rinsing and slicing, then said, "Did you bring those tomatoes in that I picked a couple of days ago?"
HE asked ME.
"No. They're still out in the beer fridge."
"I'll go get them," he said.
I sat on the stool and put my chin on the palm of my hand. He returned, one broken arm opening the handle, the other arm with at least fifteen pounds of tomatoes. There were no complaints. No hints of frustration with having to work. He was completely involved in helping me. Happy to be doing it. And I didn't even have to ask.
And then he continued to work, so I watched him awhile, grateful, taking a big sigh, swigging a few gulps of pumpkin ale (which I have to say goes very well with fall harvesting).
Finally, he looked over his shoulder at me, his hands covered in tomato smoosh, and he said, "You are going to come back and help me, right? We'd sure get this done a lot faster if you did."
That's my boy now.
*Also, he recently won a $25 prize from the Ovar'Coming 5k Race that he's signed up to do in a couple of weeks. At first he was pretty excited about the Legos he was going to buy, and then I explained that the money came from a charity organization, raising money to cure ovarian cancer. He said he wanted to donate his $25 back to the charity. There is a huge possibility he'll be running his 5k with his arm still in a cast.
*Notes from school have all been very positive. The new coordinator seems to think very highly of him. Tom and I have been lax in helping with the homework, however, mostly because Jack has been sitting at the table himself, doing it, or so it seems. Some assignments slipped by us, but the grades are great.
*Football games on Friday nights, Tom takes the kids, and one week I said, "Why?? You don't know any football players. I don't understand."
"So I can see Jack interact with his friends," he told me. "It's non-stop. Kids are coming up to him all night long. Even Pick notices this and follows him around. You should see it. Mostly girls, but lots of guys. Everybody knows him. He's mister popular!"
How many years did I fret over him never having a friend?
I don't know if I mentioned he won "Funniest 6th Grader" last year. He was also on the A/B Honor Roll all year.
What else can I tell you?
I wanted what was fair and right as a mother and got way beyond my wishes.
That's worth a better picture than the one with pumpkin ale in the foreground, but I did at least take it in when it happened and I appreciate it all.
Someday, I promise I'll kiss his cheek while standing over HIS kitchen sink.
A new dream for me.
So many through him have come true.
© Copyright 2013 Angeline Larimer