Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Lasts and Firsts

Tonight is the last night Patrick sleeps under my roof as a kid who lives here.

In the morning we will groggily throw the rest of the stuff into the back of the truck and head to Central Texas.

I offered to make a gourmet feast for Patrick's friends, whomever he chose.

His pals are going their different ways. His choice was a handful of his high school teachers: Mrs. Keith, geometry, Coach Keith, history, economics, cross country and track, Mrs. Fox, history and history fair, Mrs. Donaghey-literature and writing and Mr. Fox- FFA, welding,etc.

Even though they are in the middle of get ready to start school weeds, they took the time to spend several hours in our home, visiting, eating and drinking, remembering, sharing stories, laughing with us as we prepare to launch Patrick into his new chapter.

Is it a new chapter? A new book?

I found myself a bit tense the other day. Somewhat short with a couple of the girls. I paused to ask myself where these feelings were coming from. What did it feel like?

It felt like grief.

When I named it I began to sob.

Guess I found the ticket.

I apologized to the girls and told them I was feeling a bit grieved about the fact that Patrick will no longer be a part of our daily life. I told them I was so proud and happy about his transition, but that it left me feeling a bit bereft. I told them it was no excuse to be short with them, and I hoped they would forgive me. And of course they did.

A couple of days ago I decided that I had had enough of painting on the rent house I purchased this past winter. I found a green I liked and set to task painting my new kitchen. Ahhh. lovely.

And then the next day decided that I couldn't live with the grubby laundry room any longer and went to buy a nice creamy yellow. Patrick came home from work, yet again to see me, hair askew, ripped up t-shirt and shorts, covered in paint, perched on a chair, transforming another room.

The next day I tended chores, worked on bakery odds and ends. Made phone calls. Cleaned. And at 6:45pm, after supper, ran to TruValue and purchased yet more paint. The dining room. I couldn't live with it another day.

Granted, we have not ever painted since we moved in three years ago this month. But, three days in a row?

Patrick walked in from work and asked if it was a sickness... We laughed. I painted on.

This morning I finished painting a nice glossy white over the primed 1970's dark paneling in the dining room. Then raced, dirty clothes and painted face, to Sul Ross State University Meat Lab to purchase some locally grown and harvested beef for our farewell dinner.

I felt a bit manic. Slightly hard around the edges.


So happy to launch this amazing progeny out of the nest and into the great big blue sky up there in Austin.

And yet.

So many people try to steer my little feelings of grief into happy thoughts, reminding me of the positive.

Well, truth be told, I am thrilled to see Patrick go forward. I would feel rather sad and worried and irritated to have him want to stick around home another few years! That said, I am a realist. I know that for us, and for him, this leaving is a definite end. He is packing up his room to make ready for a sister to move in. His treasures are going into boxes for a time when he has more space and can take them onto his own property. Old swords, a tinder bag he crafted out of old blue jean denim for his fire starting adventures, stuff. Things too precious to discard, but moving into the shed. He will take his scant little pile of clothes. Stacks of books. Camping gear.

When he returns it will be for a visit.

How can it be that one day, this little child is smiling at me with happy teeth, playing with a GI Joe with his brother, laughing heartily, cuddling sweetly and now speaks of economics and world issues and knows how to take a book and annotate and discuss and verbally parry swords; annoyingly argumentative, beautifully inquisitive, sweetly sensitive?

We dined at a lovely, candlelit table. Bouquets of zinnias and coral vines. A silver obi with orange design. As close to UT colors as I could get! We made toasts. Said prayers. Enjoyed food and more food and then chocolate cake. Our friends said their most gracious goodbyes, and let me tell you-I know we are blessed. Lucky. How could it be that we moved to the edge of the earth and had these teachers bestowed upon us???

I set upon the piles of dishes and couldn't help but think of the many dinner parties back in the good ole days, when the guests would depart and Philip and I would find ourselves in the kitchen, laughing over the memories of different conversations, drinking the last bits of wine from the bottle, snagging one more bite of cake as we scrubbed and washed and dried.

I found myself talking to his memory, comparing notes, remembering the baby days, marveling over the growing up days. I thought how proud he would be of his son. How he would have loved sitting down to table with those lovely educators. How we never would be here had he not died. What a weird world we live in, a maze, twists and turns, never knowing what awaits, but somehow certain that not only will it be bearable, it will probably be beautiful...

Can't say I have figured out how to be thrilled about single parenting. Haven't figured out how to not feel sad.

Am pretty thankful to be able feel such a spectrum of emotions. It is rich.

Just like a tasty French meat dish. It starts out with a nice hunk of meat. Many different ingredients. Celery, onion, garlic,carrots, anchovies, bay leaf,red wine, beef broth, some thyme. Peppercorns, sea salt. A few sprigs of parsley and rosemary. It looks watery. Not so special. But several hours later, the meat is tender, the juices thick and savory.

Best eaten with friends. And candle light. Red wine. Lots of veggies. Some fresh, crusty peasant bread, kneaded by loving hands, salted with a few tears.

So my dear son Thomas lives down the street. Patrick will soon live in a giant dorm. The house is exploding with feminine energy. And we are doing well.

And the library is just itching for a nice coat of paint!!!

1 comment:

Texsheva said...

Oh, my...this brought on a fresh spate of tears for me. You really do move to another aspect of their lives once they go to college, and, it's as it should be but still, no less hard on the emotions. We just married off our middle son so I've been quite the emotional one lately, too. So many thoughts & memories and although a VERY happy marriage, it still brings forth some grief at the passage of time. Wishing you an easy adjustment and your Patrick a wonderful Freshman year!