Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Scent of a Man

I thought about my grandpa today.

I had no good reason to think about him. He has, after all, been dead for almost 25 years. But I thought about him just the same.

This past week has been difficult--my emotions are all over the place--and at times like these, for whatever reason, I think about him.

I don't think about his last years, when cancer ravaged his body. I barely remember how he looked at the end. "Sickly" comes to mind when I think about his final days, but those aren't the days I remember.

Today, and like other days when I think about him, I remember him as a giant of sorts, vibrant, healthy, with a robust and contagious laugh. I remember his hands, holding me tight and swinging me toward the sky, flinging me in the air...flying toward space, then hurtling toward the ground, and a moment before hitting, those same hands scooping me up, bringing me in and crushing me to his chest for a bear hug.

I remember him telling me I was pretty.

He was the first person to put me in touch with my imagination--we used to build towers and castles out of beer cans. He was also the first person to ever tell me that I was so full of shit that my eyes were brown!

I remember sitting on his lap, feeling safe. Never before and not since have I ever felt that secure in a man's arms.

I remember feeling like a co-conspirator when he would do something the time he was grilling chicken in the backyard and dropped a chicken leg into a pile of dirt. He looked around, bent down and picked it up, then motioned for me to follow him. He swept me into the kitchen laughing and said, "Watch this!" He rinsed the chicken leg under cold running water, then shook it off and put it on a plate. He winked at me, picked me up, and said, "Don't tell your grandma. She doesn't need to know." Then he proceeded to walk back into the yard and hand the plate to my grandma. She ate the chicken.

I thought about all of this today in the early morning quiet while I pushed my cart through the grocery store. I had a small smile on my face, reminiscing, when it hit me. It was like I had run full-force into a concrete wall.

I smelled him.

I don't remember my grandpa wearing cologne, but I remember what he smelled like. And that scent, the first scent I associated with a strong man, hit me from all sides. I wanted to look around, but forced myself not to, knowing full well that grandpa wasn't there. I don't know who or what it was, but his scent was there.

I yanked my cart and hurried away, tears welling in my eyes. I kept my head down, knowing if I looked up, the tears threatening to spill over would start flowing. I paid for my groceries and made my way across the parking lot, the sun bouncing off my tears, making me see strange, diamond-like prisms.

When I finally pulled myself together, I got myself home, put away the groceries and then sat down to write this and it occurred to me that while he taught me much about great love...he later taught me much more about great loss.

I miss him.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

My Life's Savings

I think when most people hear the phrase, “life’s savings”, they usually assume it refers to money or assets. For example, “I put my life’s savings towards a down payment on a house.”
For me, it’s a little different. It seems like I’m always saving something. I’ve been saving my entire life. If I was a bank, I’d be full of all kinds of assets. From the time I was a kid, I was always being told to save something.

• Save your money for a rainy day.
• Save this, someone might need it later.
• Save that, you might need it later.
• Save your breath, don’t argue with me.
• Save your energy, don’t waste my time.
• Save…
• Save…
• Save…

I’m always saving something, and as I get older, the messages I’ve always heard have been internalized. I now have my own messages about saving and sometimes, they go to the extreme.

• Save my money.
• Save my vacation time.
• Save the pink sweater—don’t wear it and I won’t ruin it.
• Save wedding dress.
• Save the red lipstick for a fun night out.
• Save my tears.
• Save my love for someone who wants it.
• Save the memory that hurts too much to remember, but would be agonizing to forget.
• Save the sweet memory that makes my heart flutter.
• Save the manicure for another day.
• Save the hateful letter that crushes my self-esteem every time I read it.
• Save the pretty blue underwear for a special occasion.
• Save the trip, the cruise, the WHATEVER for another time.
• Save my hopes and wishes.
• Save my prayers.
• Save someone.
• Save myself.
• Save a life.
• Save the world.
• Save more.
• Save…
• Save…
• Save…

And yet, when I think about it, what exactly am I saving for? Is life itself not a special enough occasion for pretty underwear, a pink sweater, red lipstick and a manicure?

Is my time not valuable enough for me to take and enjoy?

At what point exactly did I become a deposit box, unwilling to draw from my own assets?

Save the excuses. Save the lists and reasons for another day.

Sunday, October 03, 2010


I would really enjoy a vacation right about now. Autumn is here, the weather is cooler, leaves are changing colors, Halloween is's all good stuff that I'm enjoying, but a vacation would be so nice. If circumstances were a little different, I would take my kiddo to Maine next weekend, just the two of us. She has a long weekend (no school on Friday or Monday), airfare isn't too bad right now and we could spend a few days in a small town, enjoying the local culture. Unfortunately, my own work schedule doesn't allow for that at the moment, nor do finances. I remind myself that life won't always be like this--things will settle down and some sort of normalcy will return.

Everything else is about the same. I spent most of my weekend preparing for and cleaning up from the hubby's poker gathering. A lot of effort goes into those little parties, but everyone seems to have a good time. I usually do the cleaning and cooking, then do my own thing while the guys play. They were out in the garage last night, I worked on some sewing in the dining room after the kiddo went to bed, then went upstairs and read The Bridges of Madison County for probably the 458th time. (I adore that book.) In any case, it was nice overall. The hubs has a birthday on Monday (35!) and I thought it would be nice for him to celebrate with his friends. He enjoyed it.

Today I did some chasing, bought a few things from Kohl's--all things I currently need, no wasteful spending here! Actually, I bought a night shirt, an undergarment and two tops, and I paid ten cents. No kidding. I had some Kohl's cash and a gift card and after those were processed, I handed over a dime from my purse and was on my way. Nice!

I'm going to Trader Joe's in a little while and I'm hoping to keep that under $40. I don't get paid until Friday and I know I'll need gas for my car, so I just have to figure out how to balance that out.

I don't need to do any cooking tonight. There are leftovers from last night's gathering, so it'll be spinach salad, chili, enchiladas and apple crisp. And cupcakes for dessert.

It occurred to me that the holidays are just around the corner. Halloween is in a few weeks, followed by Thanksgiving, and then Christmas will come roaring up, too. I started thinking about Christmas shopping and I'm getting ideas for the kiddo. She doesn't ask for much and it's always fun coming up with ideas for what to get her. This year will be no different.

Let's see...anything else? Oh, my dog had surgery on her paw last weekend. That was an unplanned (and expensive) event. She was digging in the yard and got a claw hooked on something--split and fractured it deep into the skin. Tomorrow will hopefully be her last post-op visit.

I think I'm going to be Wonder Woman for Halloween this year. THAT should be fun. I'm also making an octopus costume for my kiddo. Hilarious!