Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How do you like your eggs?

Today I was making my grocery list and literally had to go to the kitchen to remember what I thought we might need. I glanced into the refrigerator and was making notes of the “he needs milk” style when I saw the egg carton and a scene from a movie played out in my mind. Julia Robert’s has a movie called “The Runaway Bride” that involves her running out of the church on 3 separate occasions. The story arc hits it’s high point when Richard Gere asks her “How do you like your eggs?” Through flashbacks we see that she eats her eggs however the man in her life eats his eggs. With one they’re scrambled, another they’re poached and a third they’re over easy. She transforms herself into the perfect mate for a man and looses herself. Thus, she runs away before saying the big “I do’s.” She literally leaves and finds out who she is by the end of the movie and they live happily ever after. Good movie, but I digress, this is not the point of this post.

I began to notice how many things I do “because Richard liked it that way” in my normal everyday life. Now after more than 20 years together, a certain amount of assimilation is to be expected. But, as I look back, it seems I was over taken by the damned Borg. As I made the list and wrote bacon, I automatically wrote sausage. Neither my son nor I eat sausage unless its Italian sausage in Lasagna. So I crossed it off the list. Neither my son nor myself eat canned vegetables, we are carnivores. God help me, the Jolly Green Giant is crying in the corner because I marked off those as well. I had Sunny D on the list because of Richard going into insulin shock. We hate it as well. Ciao. I had a particular brand of bathroom cleaner on the list that I have to work twice as hard to get the tubs clean because he hated the smell. My elbow says for me to buy something that could peel paint if it saves me work.

The biggest question of the day today was “Just who in the hell am I?“ So I began a study on myself of things I do or wear or eat or watch simply because “Richard liked it that way.” For example, I sleep on the left side of the bed because he was closer to the bathroom and it saved broken toes because he was a klutz. I have since moved to the middle. No top sheet on the bed because it made him cold. Guess what, they’re both on the bed and they’re black. He said dark sheets looked like you were sleeping in a whorehouse.

These are the results of my study so far. I sleep under my good comforter because I am responsible and won’t destroy it. When I make my bed I have more than 30 pillows that go on it, and I like it that way. I watch TV in my bedroom rather than the living room because it’s more comfortable. I watch what I want when I want because technology makes it easy to do these days. I wear a t-shirt that says “Heartless Bitch” in public and my rock star sunglasses indoors. I am not prone to holding my acid tongue if asked about either one in public. Young or old, if you have the nerve to ask, I have the nerve to answer. I have specific drawers for each kind of underwear and there are five separate drawers. My t-shirts are folded rather than rolled. I feel better in 5 inch heels than in tennis shoes. I take bubble baths rather than showers most of the time. I put bath oil in my bathtub without worrying that someone’s going to fall if I don’t clean it when I get out. If I fall, it's my fault. I sit on my bed rather than in the floor to put my lotion on and then get straight into the sheets without worrying about stains. I think that the right shade of red lipstick can turn that frown upside down and that every female on the planet has the right to find hers if it takes 500 tubes. I know that good make-up will hide a multitude of sins and less is not always more but if you can‘t put it on, leave it alone. I believe in the power of the little black dress, dark hose and platform shoes. I think that a woman in pearls settled, get the diamonds baby girl or at least look like you did. Three quarters of my wardrobe is black and has been for more than 15 years. No I don’t need color unless I say I want color. I am not really friendly with strange people and as a rule I generally do not like children under the age of 12 nor old people that act like they are privileged because they lived this long. Both types often tend to be needy and they usually smell in my opinion. This does not make me a horrible human being, just an honest one. I do not eat food that I do not like or cannot identify. If it's slimy, it's really not for me. No I don’t want to try it because I don’t like the way it looks or smells. I am a slave to good French roast coffee with a touch of sugar and I tend to like a strong, cold adult beverage. I do not drink sweet tea nor do I eat grits, and yes I am a true southerner. I do know what moonshine looks as well as tastes like. I prefer either text or email, I hate to talk on the phone for the most part. These are the things I can state with absolute certainty.

I find it amazing that I have to ask myself what I like or want. So many things that define me as an individual have been stripped away that I am in danger of loosing them forever. I have to find my way, my voice, my truth in this place. I know some things but not enough to say that I know myself well. Maybe I won’t fit where I used to fit because I am not who I used to be. But, it’s for me to find out rather than someone else to tell me.

And just for the record, I prefer my eggs over medium with some light brown toast please.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Church folk, Elephants and Hot Sauce

To say I am scattered these days would be a gross understatement, at this time I can say that dealing with issues is not a job, it’s an adventure. Things that would be annoyances in the normal world become the shock and awe of “Widow’s World.” Everything is magnified because there is no strong arms to wrap around yourself and a steady voice to say that everything will be okay.

First was that I was summoned to my father in laws church, which was Richard and my church, for “Homecoming” festivities. For those not familiar with the concept, it is the anniversary of the first Sunday service in a church after it is chartered. Lots of food, family, etc. Now, the reason I was summoned was that they were to honor my husband since he was a deacon and the two of
us are charter members of the church.

I did not sleep all of Saturday night, so I started the glam process early. Took my time, drank my coffee and smoked the dreaded cigarettes as I painted my face to look my absolute best. Because I had not set my foot on the property since the day of the funeral, I was actually psyching myself up in order to go to the church. In truth I would have rather been dragged to the backyard and have been beaten about the face and head until comatose. But, I put on my armor and strode into battle. I say battle because these are the most inconsistent, undependable and fake people in the entire planet. I politely declined their insistence's that I sing at the Christmas Cantata and return to weekly services. I smiled, took their hugs and squeezes, their pats and polite conversation about weight loss and my nasal piercing. Small talk for the small minded. I watched their whispers and tortured food I had no intention of eating. Then I was making my polite escape when I was cornered by someone who was supposedly Rich’s best friend. When he pressed me to return that “my Church Family” was concerned, I reminded him that I had heard from no one, including him since Wednesday after the funeral. That if concern was what they were showing. I had no need of it at this time. He said they thought I had “moved away from the Lord.” I simply replied “I have not moved away from the Lord. But the Church Family moved away from me.” At that point, rather than engage him in a debate of excuses, I politely said my goodbyes and came home. I was exhausted and was trying to sleep when the phone started ringing. Like Granny always said. “A hit dog will holler.” I declined to answer the phone as I am unconcerned with anything they have to say at this point in my life. Please understand this is not an indictment of the church in general or religion of any kind. This is an indictment of these particular people.

Then last night, when I had finally relaxed enough to lay down, vandals threw a concrete brick through my living room window. My son was gone to dinner with his girlfriend and I was alone. They left their food on the table and ran to me. There was no white knight to come and protect or save me. I had to deal with the police and everything else alone. The officer, a tiny, little, and perhaps the whitest dude I have ever seen actually ask me with a straight face, if I was “beefing with anyone in the neighborhood??’ I looked at him and laughed as I said “Little too much TV there officer? I have never had an issue with anyone in the entire neighborhood.” I am not ashamed to say I came out of my bedroom with my gun and was prepared to use it. The brick sounded like a shotgun blast and I was petrified. I went into business mode and handled, along with my son and his girlfriend, putting cardboard over the window. I put the business card with the police report number on the refrigerator and the gun upstairs in a calm, cool and collected manner. But when I laid back down, I cried myself to sleep holding onto a pillow instead of my late husband. I truly felt alone. He’s really not coming back to save me it seems.

I often go back to my Grandmother in situations like these. When all of my problems and the weight of the world is resting on my shoulders, I see her soft brown eyes and hear her say … “’Buni, do you know how to eat an elephant? One bite at a time baby, just one bite at a time.” She was the calmest and best of all souls I have ever known. She raised five children in the depression alone and no one went hungry because she took in laundry she did by hand for one dollar a day. She never owned a home or drove a car. But out of all the influences in my life, hers is the strongest within me. Her strength was a amazing and her grace was a thing of beauty. My father’s side of the family gave me roots driven deep into the bedrock of the south. My beloved Grandmother was my Mother’s side and she gave me wings. She taught me the meaning of the word Lady. In good times and in bad she held her piece of this world with dignity. She left this world January 18, 1986 after a hard struggle with Bone Cancer that was metastasized Breast Cancer. God was merciful and it only lasted 6 weeks actually. She was the first close death I ever experienced. Today, October 19 is her 100th birthday. I hope Granny, as I wander through this “Widow’s World” that I honor you. I am eating this elephant one bite at a time, but I’m just using a little hot sauce to do it.