Monday, November 06, 2006

End of the Season

The bedroom switch did not last.

Ben’s in his own room, where he belongs. Jake in his, Zachary in his.

All is quiet on the Western Front. At least at this particular moment- I’m going to keep my helmet on.

It’s a stunning fall day. The kind that makes you think it will be warm for weeks and weeks to come. I know better. It’s the last burst of sun before we wake up to snowflakes. The frost has already ended the tomato season. Today the fruit is still bright against the shriveled leaves. Makes you think you could pluck one and take a delicious bite even though they are now mealy and breaking down.

The snow can arrive anytime soon because I am off to Florida, to my mother’s condo. My first trek to a home she owned since she died. On one hand, I am excited. It has a stunning ocean view. You can sit on the porch, drink coffee in the morning and watch the shrimp boats go out. In the evening, their lights dot the horizon. It is easy not to move very far, only from the deck to the beach, back to the deck, stopping only to rinse the sand off your feet.

There is a wonderful spa and golf course nearby. I plan to play golf and have the miraculous high performance ‘counter-aging’ facial.

If I’m out drying the hell out of my skin on the golf course and at the ocean, I might as well give it a shot. Maybe they have a maximum dose for sun worshippers like myself.

I haven’t been to the condo for three years. Things between my mother and I were too hard. I was too anxious to sit with her for long periods of time. I never knew what she would say. I was afraid I couldn’t get away.

It was her favorite place to be at the end of her life. It was easy to manage and gave her the privacy she craved. No one stopped by unannounced. She allowed herself to ignore the ringing phone. She was anonymous there- something she never was in her hometown. No one asked her out to lunch.

She once said to me, I’ll give them money only if I don’t have to go to lunch. I am so sick of going to lunch.

I’m excited about my visit and… a little scared. Nervous. It’s her house. I feel like I’m going to intrude.

I wonder if I’ll feel her presence. I wonder if I’ll be able to sleep in her bed. I’ve always been afraid of ghosts- when looking to buy our first house, Jeanine and I went into a home that was icy in a single room. There was a skeleton key to the porch tagged, “Mary’s” in very old, worn script. The outline of a cross was faded on the wallpaper. A very, large cross.

The house was a great price. I didn’t care.

Oh, no. I said. I’m not moving into a house haunted by Mary who was a Jesus freak and didn’t like gay people. No no no.

Jeanine, a logical thinker, rolled her eyes. But even she was a little creeped out by the cross on the wall.

Over the years, that particular house has turned over, again and again. I’m thinking I was right about Mary still walking around the house, looking for her key.

But if it’s my mother’s ghost, will I be frightened? I don’t think so. I held no secrets at the end. I told her the truth. She wasn’t very happy about it but we made our peace. Will she come sit at the end of the bed, grab my foot and shake it, like when I was a little girl? Will she scowl at me for not having sent out my thank you notes yet?

I will, I will.

I haven’t been dreaming about her as much. Since I really broke down last week, I seem to be more at peace. She’s not roaming in my mind.

Maybe, I’m a little hopeful. Maybe I do want to see her. To feel her spirit. Maybe I want to believe she would want to see her baby. Tug my foot. Or sit with me and watch the boats on the horizon, one last time.

Maybe, like my tomatoes, I will see something beautiful, if only from the outside. If only for one last time before the snow falls. Before it all goes away.


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