Sunday, March 28, 2010


Yesterday we had a work day on the farm. I don't even know how many different people came out to help fix broken windows in the barn, fix and paint a fence, work on some electrical issues, prepare to switch our water from spring box to the well (a more reliable source of clean water), unload firewood, start up lawn mowers, play with children. Someone even brought a load of gravel.

The kindness of our church and community is overwhelming. Dizzying.

Some folks came to pick up some scrap metal and the old K-car. 1987. Blue. Philip's dad bought it brand-new. He drove it 3/4 of a mile to downtown to pick up the paper and a cup of coffee and a doughnut (until the doctor told him to lay off the doughnuts). When he died in 2003, the car had 40,000 miles on the odometer.

Philip loved that car. It was basic. No frills. Anytime something went wrong, Philip would fix it. The car drove many more miles in its last seven years of life than in the sedentary suburban life it lived in Madison. Our friend Sean came out yesterday and as he saw the car head out the driveway on a trailer, he reminded me how many people drove that car since it came to the farm.

He needed a vehicle one summer so we lent him the blue bomber. Anytime someone was without a vehicle we would happily pass them the keys! So you had to be a bit brave and know that if the car died at a stop light, all you had to do was coast a little, pop the clutch and you would be right back in action. No cd player. But there was an AM radio. I think the heat even worked.

Driving the old K-car made me feel independent and strong and unattached to the things of the world. Especially knowing that my hard-working husband could fix most things that went wrong with it, with a visit or two to his dear friends at Advanced Auto and a few evenings out under the stars, with the dogs keeping him company.

The car died on the way home from our friends' farm one evening. Philip coasted it into the Dollar General parking lot and a few days later he and Thomas loaded it up on the trailer to bring it home. He never could get it going. He got too miserable and was too busy trying to keep us in firewood. The car was to be a warmer weather project.

Seeing that car head out the driveway made me burst into tears.

Philip is gone. He will no longer be keeping spare cars running to loan out to friends. Seeing that car leave was like seeing a part of Philip and his dad leave.

It made me ache.

We said farewell to the many helping friends, and Sean and Julie took the kids to see a movie. I sat numbly in front of the fire, eating some homemade pizza brought by other church friends, and read a Dan Brown book by candlelight. Couldn't even bear electricity.

It was cold and a steady rain fell for a very long time.


Jeff said...

A number of people have made the comment that major decisions shouldn't be made for a year after the death of a loved one. If it hurts to think about doing something, wait until it doesn't hurt. It's only been a month .... said...

Thank you so much, Jeff, for recognizing that is has only been one month. We are making sure to not make any major decisions right now, but having broken vehicles blocking entrance to milking area is more depressing to me than saying farewell to them. I am trying hard to allow myself freedom to feel a bit of pain when it surfaces, bit by bit, and I think some things are just going to hurt. It does feel empowering, in a bizarre way, to see friends help me get some things done that Philip and I had been working on for the last couple of years, and even though it is hard to see things happen without him here, it gives me and the kids a greater sense of security watching others help make our work run more efficiently.

All that said, I do remind myself, as the pain surfaces, that it has been only a month, and I think that we will be feeling pain and loss for a good long time, even when we manage to grab a smile or a laugh or a sweet memory along the way.