Time for New Tradition

Some holidays feel like tombstones on the calendar

These days smell like dusty dishes, broken flowers and tired pictures

Flashbacks seem bright – some not

Numbers that don’t count

Hands unheld

Candles boxed

Food not cooked

Time for a New Tradition

 

 

 

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In Three’s

My Grandma used to say something along the lines of “It happens in Three’s” – she believed it.

It is a phrase repeated by some when loss strikes…  Why do we say things like this, is it a superstition carried-over from some ancient grasp for acceptance?  Is there a power of three that some people cling to?  Is it real?

I never really gave it much thought.

I wonder what Grandma would say now that one of her son’s has passed-away, the third branch of my family tree to die in the last sixty days.

“They go in Three’s?”

Her name was Mary

Saturday I read a text while on lunch break from a writing workshop.  While walking my dog I learned that a favored cousin had died, that it may have been as long as a couple weeks before she was found.  The small words on my phone almost sat me down on the wet sidewalk – once again my dog kept me moving.  Nobody can see a tear in your eye if you eat alone in a dark corner of a pub, this was working until I was invited to sit with the group.  I chose to save the news for later, join them and float in their conversation’s.  I succeeded in not thinking about her very much and did the best I could with the rest of the day.  As I began the three hour drive home over the bridge guilt clutched me for being able to put myself first.  The tortuous lone drive home on wet roads through dark trees seemed like an appropriate time-out.

Sunday I learned that she left a note – she had chosen this ending.  It felt like an asthma attack in my head.  As this sad ending becomes another of life’s unsolvable cruel riddles that ride in on the monster we simply call “Loss”; I will focus on what I can.

Mary was ten years older.  Being another only child gave us a special bond, our club of one’s.  Most years we got together on my family trips back to North Dakota.  Mary lived on a huge farm alive with animals, horses being her favorite.  This contrast to living in a small Washington town appealed to me.  One Summer I was given three little ducklings to care for at my Grandparent’s farm.  Years later we’d meet for dinner and a night on the town to catch-up, a highlight of my annual visits.  Mary’s adult life revolved around taking care of elder family and helping other friends, she seemed to delight in the role.  Certainly as they passed away, chunks of her went with them and loneliness soaked in.

My cousin had a huge heart.

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Her name was Mary.

Nobody Likes A Coward

“It doesn’t rain at the end of July, the forecast is wrong.  My motorcycle trip to the coast won’t be cancelled.”  I declared one beautiful sunny day.

“Okay, well yes it’s raining, but it’ll stop – it is July.”

Mike stared at me in silence.

Are Norwegian’s more stubborn that Swede’s?  Ah who knows, I laugh at such things.

We put our rain gear on in silence and rode out into it.  My open-face half helmet allowed the drops to hit me with a blinding sting.  Twenty minutes later we stopped to buy a better helmet at the Harley Davidson shop in Tacoma.

“You riding in that?” asked the pretty cashier.

“Yes!”

“Where to?”

“The coast.”

“Oh – really?  Be careful!”

After the monsoon experience on Interstate 5 we stopped at a Barbecue Restaurant to warm up, eat and pour out our boots.  No one said anything – everyone looked.

“It’ll let up, has to” I laughed.

“Sure, it’s gonna” Mike laughed back.

After the winding roads and fresh tarred construction we stopped for a beer at a Peninsula Dive Bar.

“Cheers to stubborn!”

Clank!

***

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As always I learned while enjoying the “Rain” writing workshop at the Fort George Brewery on January 23rd 2015.

Matt Love lives and teaches in Astoria, Oregon.