A bit of death is in the air.
August does it to me. Most every year, the month of August brings a sullen, confused time into my life … into my state of mind.
This year, I lasted about a week into August before it really hit me. I am done with summer. Worn out from digging, bending, schlepping, lifting and tending the garden. Even the heat is different.
Yesterday, afternoon, I walked outside to try to get enthusiastic about something. I was hoping to feel the magic of the garden.
I looked around my yard. I walked to the wildflower garden, all spent from heat and exhaustion. Their bright colors had transpired to gray. Their heads, once bonnets of beauty, looked like me when I need to have my hair colored. Their posture was like mine, too. Bent.
The hydrangeas, which had been transplanted this year, and had been warding off the fungus, showed signs of weakness.
After. Few minutes, I walked into the house, noting that their was no air to breathe outside.
The garden had taken a toll on my body. I know, I know, I did it to myself. No one told me to haul bags of pea gravel, lift it and put it around. I didn’t have a gun at my head switch someone saying, dig deep into this clay to land this spires.
No, I was my own garden warden. The vision was strong. The body did most of what was asked. And now, it was revolting, telling me that it was time to rest.
There are times when I dance as fast as I can. I get a project, a vision in my mind and I go for it. I do what it takes for as long as I can.
Even if it involves trips to an orthopedic doctor and MRIs and. Probably, physical therapy.
Last week was also the week before my 6-month mammogram and visit with the surgeon. My first check-up since I was declared cancer free. And I had been cancer-free. Once the surgeon had said those words, after surgery and before radiation, I lived my life free of cancer. I simply went on.
The funny thing about many kinds of cancer is that you feel fine and dandy, even though a group of cells are gathering to form a convention of attackers, often you don’t know it. It is like walking in your yard, as you always do, but this time, you look at the grass and see a copperhead. Yikes. But you get rid of the copperhead and move on, perhaps with a slower speed because you realize that you need to slow down and feel life, or you speed up things because you hear tick-tock, tick-tock.
For me, it wasn’t so much the episode with cancer … it is age. No matter how much I want to believe that age is just a number … for me, it isn’t. It is trying to balance attitude, looks and body. I rarely have them all in sync.
And August is my month when I feel everything shift. It is my of uncertainty, a bit of a foggy head and a sense of loss … ad transition.
I see photos of my grandchildren heading back to school. A couple of days ago, I got a phi tire of my two oldest granddaughters standing by each other. One is a senior and one is a freshman. The senior was going to drive the freshman to high school. I couldn’t help but get misty.
It is so difficult for me to put my arms around the fact that one of my sons will have a daughter in college next year.
I guess that August is a melancholy month for me. The air even shifts. What was simply hot and humid, become stifling. The sounds of outside are different. The nights are loud with a cacophony of insects and their hallelujah chorus. And even now, as I sit on the screens porch, the sounds of insects drone, not allowing silence of any kind.
I tend to craw my way through August, waiting for it to end. If I acknowledge and embrace this weird sense that I feel, I can almost laugh at it. But mostly, I don’t think it is very funny.
The good news is that when September arrives, I have figured out my next chapter. I have let my mind and body regroup. At this moment, I am uncertain about what my next act on life’s stage will be. Will I continue to write and allow people to see some of the workings of my mind and heart, or will I hang that up? What will I do to move my life and thoughts forward? Or do I have to look at life that way?
There is something good that comes out of putting one’s shovel down for a while. Breathing deeply and taking stock. Maybe that is what August is about? Perhaps the discomfort and uncertainty of and uncomfortable feeling of this month is part of the growing process. It is a realization of the seasons. Seasons change. So must I.
But for now, I think I will rest.
PS. Winston feels this way, too.
It isn’t that we were actual friends. More like pleasant acquaintances. I know of her but hadn’t talked to her until she began following my writing. At that point, we had a few email conversations about some of the subjects that I had written about.
One of those subjects was Ireland. It made her think about her trips to Norway, where she visited relatives.
I love Ireland. She loved Norway.
The last time I saw my friendly acquaintance, was just prior to our moving south. I saw her in a local carryout. I was buying scratch off lottery tickets pats and she had just purchased cigarettes.
We chatted for a few minutes. I told her we were moving. She mentioned that she and her husband had moved into a little schoolhouse type building. She mentioned that her son had bought their big house on the lake.
It was a peasant chat. Friendly acquaintances. A pleasant sort of relationship.
One of my sons knew her husband. I think that they were friendly acquaintances, too. One day, maybe a year or so ago, I received an email from my son, saying the husband of my friendly acquaintance, had died.
I didn’t know him, but I felt badly for his wife.
Remember when Robin Williams died? That hit me. I didn’t know him, but I grieved. The same with Anthony Bourdain. I recall, crying, when Nick told me what had happened. Nick asked why I was crying, and all I could say was that I was just very sad. I was going to miss him.
Maybe it is my age, or how the world is or just the way my mind works, but when I hear about certain deaths, though I might now have known the person, feel like a bit of a punch in the gut. My equilibrium takes a hit, and I grieve.
I have a friend that I have had for probably 35 or 36 years. Long time. Good friend.
The other day I called her. We chatted and caught up on what her kids were doing and how my kids are. We talked politics and laughed and about my old neighbors and that the people who bought our old house, which is next to hers, are taking good care of my cottage garden.
She asked me if I knew a certain person. This person was my friendly acquaintance. I said, yes, I know her.
“She died last week.,” she said.
My gut immediately hurt. She was only 67.
I can make 67 sound young or old. It depends on how I am looking at it. For death, it is young.
My friend told me the circumstances for the woamn’s death, which unsettled me even more. Fire, burns … suspected to be caused by smoking.
My mind flashed back to our chat at the carryout. She and her husband had a lake house and were planning on spending more time there. Her obituary mentioned that she and her husband began dating at 16.
Now, 3 years later, they both are gone. Their 3 adult children have lost their parents and their children have lost their grandparents.
And though I didn’t know either, well, they are in my craw.
Futures. Plans. Pasts. Unexpected Losses.
I think I will sit and watch some birds for a fe minutes.