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The time is fast approaching for Mum to return to her own home.  It’s been nine months and the experience has been rather like a pregnancy.  The first three months were not terribly remarkable.  Sure, there was the queasiness in the morning.  Mum was in the habit of rising at an ungodly-early hour, such that I was sure I would ralph daily that first few months before the nausea abated.   The second “trimester” changes became even more noticeable and intrusive.  In lieu of an ever expanding waist line, I dealt with the escalating encroachment of Mum’s “things” into my space.  The past ninety days the discomfort and annoyance has grown daily.  At this point, not unlike a pregnant woman, I’m counting the days . . . the hours . . . the minutes until the blessed event. 

The preparations for sending Mum home are in full swing and it’s going to require the precision and coordination of a military maneuver; ergo, I have taken to referring to it as Operation Relocation.  How can this possibly be such a behemoth undertaking?  I’m glad you asked.  Now, I wouldn’t classify Mum as a hoarder exactly.  She just likes her stuff and never gets rid of any of it.  In rebellion of growing up in such an environment, I tend to be rather Spartan in my decorating style.  I’m not much for knick-knacks or an over abundance of furnishings; thus, providing Mum the opportunity to bring more and more and more and more shit to my house the longer she stays.     

It started small, but then it always does.  Mum arrived with one large suitcase and enough “creature comforts” to fill to capacity the back of my Kia Soul.  I know it’s a small car, but it has a significant amount of cargo space with the rear seats down.  Really, it does.  I have no idea why they don’t make a bigger deal of that in their sales pitch, but then I guess rap hamsters have a greater appeal to the car buying public.  “You can get with this or you can get with that, but this is where it’s at” is a powerful argument for choosing your next vehicle.  I bought mine for the retro red and black interior and the great gas mileage long before the rodent campaign was launched.  Anyway, Mum’s house is only a two hour round trip, so we made regular runs in the beginning each time filling the Soul.  Mum needs a copious collection of chattels to console her.  She is also a faithful practitioner of retail therapy.

I know you’re thinking, “Why doesn’t dim Dee just start taking the junk back a little at a time starting now?”  I would LOVE to.  The problem is that Mum can’t part with any of it now that she has it.  The portable air conditioner is a perfect example.  The overly large contraption is forever in the way.  October has now ended and we’ve had a surprisingly mild summer only reaching 90˚ a couple of times.  I figure this is a great candidate for a return load.  Mum doesn’t want to let it go yet.  “You never know” when we might have a freak heat wave.  The story is similar for the port-a-potty, she never used (thank God).  I only have one bathroom and “you never know.”  There is also the new vacuum cleaner she bought during a recent Costco visit.  “You never know” when both of mine may break.  Did I mention she wears the same shoes whether they match the outfit or not? She has at least ten pair as backups; because, “you never know.”

I believe I can do it in one trip with strategic packing, use of a full-size pickup along with the Kia and Mum’s Buick.  The now-not-so-new recliner – a powered model that motors up to a standing position for easy egress which Mum bought and had delivered when she first arrive – will necessitate the truck.  Should I be unsuccessful in conscripting one, I checked and, though I’d rather not, I should be able to strap the gargantuan beast to the top of the Kia.  Truck or no truck, I should be able, with adequate preparation, to complete Operation Relocation in a single weekend and proceed directly to my Relocation Celebration.  What’s my Relocation Celebration plan?  Nothing fancy, I think I’ll sleep in my own bed until noon; drink milk straight from the jug; eat Chinese morning, noon and night; turn the volume on my music up to 11; sit at my laptop writing for as long as I like; dance bare-ass naked through my half-empty house; and, oh yeah, burn the baby monitor.  I’m a simple woman.

Telephone Pole

Image by Nicholas Smale via Flickr

Cryptic contact
No rhyme or reason
What’s it really all about?

The call, a query
Inane conversation
Harmless seeming banter

“Hey, what’s shakin’?”
“How have you been?”
Sly code seeking new status

Nothing implied
No point or promise
Merely checking now and then

“Husband is well”
“Yeah, wife’s good too”
Nothing more to speak of

She knows she’s changed
That life long gone
Why cling to that persona?

He’s different too
Intent not known
What’s he seek to find there?

Farewell for now
“We’ll talk again soon
Catch you on the flip side”

“Sure, later babe
Must keep in touch”
Shades of disappointment

Beg your pardon?
What was the purpose?
As much to blame as he is

This trip they make
From time to time
Down a path that leads them nowhere

Work . . .

Most insincere

Trying to guess what
They want to hear

Need a job so
The game I play

Trying to guess what
I’m suppose to say

Grin and bear it
Smile through it all

No job too much or
Compensation small

Really don’t want them
These jobs I pursue

My God how I hate
The interview

Love . . .

Not quite sincere

Try to be all that
Will keep you near

Need to be loved so
The words I say

Wait in fear seeing
If you will stay

Hiding my tears
Sweet through it all

No abuse too much or
Recognition small

Want you to love me
The one I pursue

But this feels like
A job interview

Life . . .

Heart felt, sincere

Trying to do right
Try to see clear

Pray for redemption
Every new day

Look to tomorrow
How it will play

Put weakness aside
Enduring it all

No trial too much or
Temptation small

More worthy a life
All I pursue

Just to be ready for
St. Pete’s interview

The room was filled with the souvenirs gathered throughout a life of adventure.  The bullroarer collected in the Outback lay on the shelf next to the Tumi knife picked up in Cuzco.  The Tibetan Thangka hung near the window opposite a Baule mask from the Ivory Coast.  The Xianpgi set bartered for in the Pangiayan Market and bone china tea set acquired in Edinburgh graced the top of the Kotatsu table radiating warmth from the corner.  Numerous bits and pieces amassed wandering the world vied with one another for attention in the small hospice room dominated by the hospital bed which had only recently dwarfed its fragile occupant.

A man well-traveled had just died here . . . alone.  For all his exploits, he had never had the time to make the human connection.  Never did he experience the greatest of all adventures.    Never did he wait with baited breath for the birth of a child.  Never did he work a job he hated to provide for a family he loved more than himself.  Never did he return to the loving arms of a woman graying and past her prime.   Never did he stand proud at the graduation of a son or the wedding of a daughter.  Never did he cry silent in the night not knowing how he would be everything needed by those in his charge.   Never did he hear the words “I love you” from one he had given up his dreams for.

The young orderly stood surveying the mess he was packing up for disposal.  He searched for a picture, or a letter, or indication of any kind there was someone that would want to know a lost and lonely soul had left this world . . . anyone that would want something here to remember the sad, miserable man that had spent the last days of his life in this forlorn place.  The youth closed and taped each box of the now worthless hoard of memories unshared, feeling a sorrow for the adventurer once envied. 

The cell phone in his pocket rang.  It was his wife.  The baby was colicky.  His son’s soccer team had lost.  The electric bill was past due. She was frustrated and exhausted.  She waited for him to respond, but he was only now understanding the treasures of his own adventures.   All he could say as he choked back tears was “I love you.”

I feel the calming
Meant to quiet me
But I cannot be tame

I know the intent
Is for my own good
I’m just not the same

I see their fingers
Pointed straight at me
Still I reject their blame

I hear those whispering
Hushed behind my back
And hand them back their shame

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June 2023