Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Well, they left, and it was a good half mile walk down the road, so I didn't go the first day.
The second, third and fourth days passed, I still didn't go down the road.
Didn't make it the fifth, six, seventh, eighth or ninth days either.
About a week after they came back, I hadn't heard anything, so with my head hung low, went over there to confess to my dereliction of duty.
I've never forgotten the thirty minutes that followed. The animals were fine, but only because one of the neighbors had stopped by to find the water tanks bone dry. Dr. Hoffman was disappointed in me. He'd relied on me, I let him down. He didn't yell, but he didn't need to. I was yelling at myself.
They didn't call my parents to complain as I thought they would.
They never called me again to babysit, either.
I've felt badly about my actions ever since. I let them down. I let myself down.
I would give a lot to change what I didn't do. If I could be given another chance, I'd show up every day to take care of things, to make sure the animals were all right. If I could be given another chance, I'd do right by my word; instead of words of broken trust, I'd remember smiles and laughter.
I learned a valuable lesson that day - it's the last time I said I'd take care of people or animals and didn't follow through. Yet, yet. Yet I wish there was some way to atone; to set things right.
But there's not.
Some things can't be undone, can't be fixed, can't be made right.
Some mistakes, we just have to live with.
Sunday, August 21, 2016
She was my ex-husband's aunt - one of the family members I kept when we split up. She was as wild as her younger sister, my mother-in-law, was well behaved.
She was a model and a writer. She was a drama queen. She was a free spirit who followed her impulses and her heart. She raised her children in Los Angeles (she and her husband were once writers for the 'Love, American Style' TV show. I was too young to properly understand the show when it was on, but I loved it...). After her marriage fell apart, she decided to move to New York. She found a job, her friends threw her a marvelous good-bye party, she moved, and the job fell through. I asked her why she didn't just turn around and move back, she said, 'I couldn't do that! They'd just all given me a wonderful party!'
So, she found work as a freelance writer. She fell in love with the city, and an artist there. As she got older, when she was in her late sixties, and money ran short, she went back to school and got her teaching certificate. She worked as a substitute teacher in the New York public schools for the next couple of years. (Even though I never actually saw it, I have a vivid mental picture of the always glamorous Sherli running herd on a group of city teens in gym class, as she did for a time.)
Eventually, time took its toll. Her memory started to go, so she gave up her apartment in New York, and moved back to Los Angeles to live with her daughter. I spent some time with them there on one of my camper van trips, and was struck by how patient Audrey was with her mother. Sherli was in good hands her last few years - this past week, she died from a brain aneurysm.
Aunt Sherli - I will never be as adventurous as you were; my spirit won't be as free. But you showed me how to grab for the golden ring; that there's more to life than making the safe choices. Life is sometimes kind to those who take risks - that was a good lesson for me to learn.
Be free once again, now. Pull out the heels and the dresses, the martini glass held just so, the long cigarette holder. Hold court with your bevy of admirers once again.
I love you.
Thursday, August 4, 2016
This past week in Colorado has been all about the connections. Like the trees in an Aspen grove, with their interlocked roots, we met and nourished one another with food and words and hugs and laughter and some tears.
We had lunch at an Ethiopian restaurant in Colorado Springs, where the food was delicious and we were met with hugs and declarations of 'Peace'. My groups of friends had not met before - once we'd ordered, they began to talk of where they live and who they knew - and discovered that two of them had met once upon a party at a mutual friend's house. Bill asked Mary if she wanted to join him sometime for some cut-throat bridge as a fourth with his mother and brother; she said she didn't know the game, but would love to. I sat next to my friend Mrs. Young, who is now 93 - rejoicing that I could see her with mine own eyes and talk with her once again.
We stayed with Rose's ex-husband's sister Debbie; the two of them talked fast as they tried to fit in all the words they could in a short time as they caught up on the events of years. We stayed with Mary and Jim, my friends from college, where I was the one talking fast as we caught up. We stayed with Rose's beloved cousin, Gaylene and her husband, Tom; more speed talking.
We picked up Ginny and caravaned to her cabin in the mountains. Rose, Ginny, Gaylene and Tom have known each other since high school. Their connections are strong; over the years, they have held each other up in the bad times, rejoiced together in the good. I watched a lot as they laughed and cooked and talked of times old and new. I watched care lines lighten, worries fall from shoulders.
I swore, if I watched closely enough, I could see the connecting lines grow stronger, like a pencil line retraced to add emphasis and definition to a drawing.
I'm pretty sure I'm on to something here.