Neil and I had some rough spots over the years. What marriage doesn’t? We tend to suppress those memories or gloss over them in time with a more favorable lens. Recently, I went to a concert that forced me to confront one of those memories.
Twenty some years ago, Neil and I planned to attend a concert at that particular lovely outdoor venue called Lime Kiln Theater. It’s made up of several different stages hewn out of ancient quarry rocks and man-made refreshment stands where you can buy beer or a glass of wine. The gates open early so people can bring picnics and relax under the stars before the show. I didn’t get off work that evening until 8 pm, so Neil suggested I meet him there. He got there at least an hour before me and started “relaxing.” He was very drunk by the time I arrived.
He slept in his seat through the whole first half of the concert. He snored forcefully once or twice, but a quick jab with my elbow took care of that. In the middle of the second set, he woke up and loudly announced that it was time to go. Embarrassed, I quietly shuffled along behind him, hunched over so I didn’t obstruct anyone’s view of the show. We left the audience area and had slowly climbed about half way up the path that leads to the parking lot, when Neil decided to take a nap. Yes, right there in the middle of the pine straw path, he laid down on his side, curled into a little ball with his face on a rock and told me, “Night night.”
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Lately I have been thinking a lot about gossip. I have definitely been a victim of it; haven’t you? More important though, I have been trying to pay attention to how much I participate in it, and wondering if I am a gossip girl. I don’t want to be!
Over the years there was a lot of gossip about me and Neil:
“I heard Neil didn’t go home last night. I guess Colleen made him mad – she is so bossy!”
“I heard she was pregnant before they got married. I guess she’s not that Catholic after all.”
“I heard he moved out. I guess Colleen finally had it with his drinking.”
Like all gossip there were nuggets of truth in these comments. For example, Neil struggled with alcoholism and sometimes it was safer for him not to drive home. I wasn’t pregnant for nine months since I went into preterm labor at thirty weeks instead of forty. And, our typical argument involved retreating to separate corners until we cooled off. Sometimes that was an hour, sometimes a night, sometimes weeks. But all the gossipers saw was the way things appeared to be – not the way they really were. I loved Neil despite his faults and, thankfully, he loved me despite mine.
So what makes a conversation gossip? It isn’t simply talking about other people. In a small town and among friends, that’s how we keep up with each other, how we know who needs extra prayers and who might need a casserole. Continue reading →
I have been doing some self-reflection lately, thinking about the words I use and the things I say. I try not to use any curse words and I try to speak kindly to and about others, but….
I realized there is one bad word I use quite regularly. It seems there is often a ‘but’ in my sentence, and the way I use it generally means something bad. Continue reading →
Since Neil died, I am learning to appreciate solitude (at least sometimes), but I am still having trouble adjusting to all the work that goes onto caring for a house. I started keeping lists to remind me what needs to be done.
From indoor things like laundry and groceries and pets, to outside things like the yard and the heat pump and the car, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. The lists help me feel more in control and productive, and I admit I love the sense of accomplishment that comes from crossing things off when they are done. I should have known I was developing a problem when one of my friends invited me to lunch and I declined to go. I didn’t tell her it was because I had too many things on my list, but it was. Continue reading →
One of the worst fights Neil and I ever had was the night of his 25th class reunion. In retrospect, the reunion was a recipe for disaster even before it started; there was no way things could have turned out well. I worked night shift the night before and never slept that day. I knew no one in Neil’s graduating class, and although I was flattered that he wanted to show off his family, I was exhausted by the prospect of an entire day nodding politely and smiling constantly. Continue reading →
Have you ever realized too late that you made a mistake? Maybe blamed your son for a broken vase, only to find out later your daughter broke it? Or criticized your coworker for an error, only to learn that it was actually your fault? I thought about this today as I noticed my jacket hanging on the back of the dining room chair. Continue reading →
Neil had a way of teaching me things. Sometimes I learned from him, other times I learned because of him, but in retrospect he was pretty wise. Here are seven of his life lessons we should all remember. Continue reading →