Monday, August 8, 2016

august memories ...

Summer is hard for me. I feel heat and humidity more intensely than the cold and it may sound perverse, but too much sunshine makes me grumpy. 


But summer has been bringing me some lovely moments which I record in my gratitude journal -

~the pleasure of sleeping with windows open after a long heat wave
~finding baby peppers growing in the garden box
~waking to bird song
~walking Moose in the coolness of night
~an abundance of marigolds
~fresh peaches from the farmer's market
~monarch butterflies on my walks
~an afternoon thunderstorm
~corn still warm from the sun and the fields

Ah, corn. I buy it from a truck parked daily in the corner of our neighborhood gas station. I buy 6 ears and they always throw in an extra "just in case" an ear is less than.  We usually end up with left-over ears and recently I have taken to cutting the kernels from the cob to use for soup. 

I am cutting a cooled ear when I remember cleaning out my mother's kitchen shortly after her death. In her freezer were six small plastic containers, each filled with corn. Individual meal sized portions of summer corn set aside for winter months when the taste of fresh corn would be most welcome.  I am struck by the hopefulness of that action and then undone by the reality that I held the bits of my mother's last summer. It felt sacrilegious, but I emptied each container down the disposal. There were too many memories to swallow in her stuffed apartment. Crackers of every kind (she was a cracker afficienado), canned goods long expired (stashed away for those rainy days that never arrived), spices I still use, and a half emptied bottle of Kahlua. (DId she drink it with friends? Or by herself? A solitary pleasure enjoyed as a daring gestures in her golden years?

I realize part of the weightiness I have felt this summer perhaps can be attributed to a growing list of bittersweet August memories. The last real season with my mother. The last time I saw my father was in August. He was in the hospital recovering from by-pass surgery and I flew out to help my mother for a week. When it was time for me to return home, I hung back from my mother and brother. I slipped back into his room.  I didn't want to believe I was saying good-bye, but part of me knew.  

My father asked me, "Do you think I will be alright?" I can't remember what exactly I said, but I know I reassured him. I reminded him he was going to have a new granddaughter and that he would be meeting her soon. He had to get better.

Less than two weeks later, the Husband and I flew to China to bring Cowgirl home. One month after I became a mother, I lost my father.  He never got to see Cowgirl in person, but at least he knew finally we had become a family.  He never said so, but I know he was thrilled for me to become a mother. 

This month will be our ten-year anniversary. Ten years as a family with Cowgirl. Next month will bring the ten year anniversary of my father's passing. As I get older, I become more fluid in the dance between grief and joy, sorrow and gratitude, loss and hopefulness. I store up memories like my mother put away corn. I feed upon the moments, the memories to sustain and inspire me. 

And we fill up our days with new moments, new memories. The imperative is to enjoy the Now because the future can be a long way out and all we have is right here, right now:  life rich and hard and heartbreaking and heart filling all at once.  


  1. oh my. i'm quite verklempt over much joy and love mixed with grief is so very bittersweet.

    i'm with you on the summer thing, too....i've surprised myself several times this summer by stating that i prefer it to be cold. :)

    so much love to you...xoxox

    1. I am shocked Mel! Oh, but it has been a brutal summer, hasn't it? I know I will be singing a different tune come January! Meanwhile, some mail love arrived today and I am motivated to pick up my pen (or maybe my typewriter?) and keep the conversation going! xo

  2. "More fluid in the dance"... That's such a wonderful way to say what we all feel. The older we get, the more we experience, the better we have to get at that dance, that balancing act.

    Last month would have been my 20th anniversary with my Steve. Today is my son's 33rd birthday. Life teaches us to treasure every day. Thank you for reminding me.

    1. Ah, you my friend have expressed such grace and wisdom in navigating your path. As we get older, ahem, it does seem like the anniversaries pile up and the scales wobbly between the celebratory ones and the ones that leave us momentarily gutted. 33?! How is that possible? I mean, I am STILL trying to figure out what I will be when I am a grown up? Happy birthday mama! xoxo

  3. You have a magical way with weaving words and feelings. I had to sit a while after reading this to just feel it. Much love to you (from another 10 year family! Wow!). Xx

    1. I know! It feels like yesterday to me ... sitting at my office desk (yikes! I worked in an office?) surreptitiously reading YOUR blogs and finding this community of adoption comforting and supporting me. A decade of our girls - can't even fathom how I lived "before." xo

  4. blessings to you, sweet friend. much love from afar

  5. This is really beautiful. I felt quite overcome when I read this.

    And I find the Summer a struggle also. Even though I'm quite besotted by Spring, (which has already arrived in my part of the world), it does mean that I mentally gird my loins (so to speak) for Summer. Which means trying to focus less on the torpidity it brings, and more on the seasonal goodness, (I love that list of deliciousness that you wrote). x

    1. So comforting to know I'm not the only one who struggles with summer ... even though it IS a wonderful tussle at times. And yes, the seasonal goodness! I think we lose out with so much of what used to be only available for a few weeks - strawberries, cherries, blueberries, melon - seemingly year round now. Except it really is The Best only in these golden days! xo