Home Improvement as Memorial

The kids and I agreed not to commemorate the first anniversary of husband’s death. He hurt us so. We’re just not ready. The therapists approved of this. But spring just kind of threw it in our face, nevertheless.

See, during the horrid weekend of his death and the subsequent weeks last year, this house was invaded with spring. The kitchen had ants and a few roaches, which was weird–we never get roaches here. (During my brief visits back to the house from the trauma center, I’d wash dishes and without even skipping a beat, would smash a roach with the glass I was washing. These were rare moments of clarity.) The dogs’ yard had weeds, three feet high. There were signs of pantry moths in the cupboards.

Sometimes I bemoaned this invasion of nature in terms of all the problems that husband left us with. Other times, with the roaches, especially, I sure did wonder if husband hadn’t opened the hellmouth and all these creatures crawled into our lives as he left it.

Even as I was in the thick of loss last year, I bought roach traps, and took care of those suckers immediately. I kept forgetting to buy pantry moth traps, though. They got out of control. By mid-summer, I had to throw away a lot of good grains and flours they’d infested. As for the weeds, a friend’s husband came over to weed-whack them. He taught me how to use one of them weedwhackers. By the end of the summer, I had a weedwhacker of my own.

As May progressed this year, I watched the return of the spring invasion.

There were no roaches.

At the first sign of pantry moths, I bought my favored traps. I am still battling, but it is a battle I am winning.

As for the weeds, I saw them come up early in the month. I went to our local Sears (one of those little, locally-owned Sears franchises, not a full-fledged department store) for a new string for the weed-whacker. The young guy was all, “This is the one you need.” It wasn’t. I wasn’t able to get back to exchange it for another week. By then, the rains began, followed by the fatigue. By this anniversary week, the weeds were back to 3 feet high. It was if those weeds were keeping vigil, reminding me not to be too hard on husband; things can get out of hand pretty quickly, before we know it.

This Friday, I got out there to whack those weeds. I inserted the new spool of string. I turned on the weed whacker. The cap for the spool of string flew in one direction, the string in another. I knelt down in the ivy where the cap had gone, searching, searching. I was reduced to tears. I whacked weeds without the cap for a little while, until the spool got all tangled up. The next morning, we stopped at Sears on the way home from the farmers market. I bought a new weedwhacker. (This is crazy, I know. I am crazed. Those 3 foot weeds were a testament now, to some memory of awfulness and a world out of control. They had to be whacked.) When we got home, I explained to daughter that I bought a new weedwhacker, plus string for the old one, should I ever find that cap.

“Oh!” she exclaimed in her little pixie voice. “What does it look like?”

“Black, round, plastic,” I intoned.

She skipped away, to the middle of the lawn, a good 20 feet from the ivy I’d been searching. “Here it is! I saw this last night and didn’t know what it was!”

So I used my old weedwhacker and tore away at those 3 foot weeds in the dog yard and elsewhere. Daughter appeared in closed-toed shoes and safety goggles, so I let her hack away at other spots while I mowed the lawn.

I returned the new weedwhacker, which was never taken out of my trunk. The owner of the Sears franchise made the return. He sees a lot of me, what with the new oven, dishwasher, and dehumidifier this past year. Probably some other things. Oh, yes! A tool chest, and that weedwhacker from last summer. He rang up the return, when I piped up,

“Oh! But we’re not returning that spool of string! It’s $8.99.”

“Doh!” he responded, as the return receipt came out of the printer. “Let’s just call it even. You’ve been good to us this year.”

This afternoon, a mom came to pick up her daughter. As we chatted in the driveway, she remarked that the end of the lawn looked so cleared away. I explained that we chopped down the pine tree for a Christmas tree, and this weekend, we hacked away at weeds down there (not really knowing what we were doing).

“And you noticed,” I said. “I’m so glad you noticed.” As if she were a witness.

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One thought on “Home Improvement as Memorial

  1. Home improvement is a time honored tradition on Memorial Day. Next year that is going to be in my game plan book to get through the holiday weekend.

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