Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Reflections of Time....

I had such a pleasant time at the lake that I decided to stay an extra day. Ah...the luxury of being unemployed.

The weather was spectacular and the leaves were almost at peak as I'd expected. I grabbed a copy of "At Home in Mitford" that's been bouncing around the cottage for years now begging me to read it and settled in on the rocking porch chair out on the lawn under the two big hemlocks and just totally relaxed as soon as I got there. A few boats were puttering round lazily trying to find some good fishing spots. Other than that - for a Columbus Day weekend it was much quieter than normal.

I stopped on the way down at a local grocer and picked up a few supplies as I wasn't real sure what we had down there to eat since we haven't been much this summer. I'd like to say I bought fresh veggies and fruits and lots of other nutritious things but something came over me in the market. All of a sudden it was just me and nobody else to think about as far as my meals were concerned. Not such a good thing. I tossed a frozen pizza in the cart (although I did opt for the veggie topped one) and a pre-made chicken sandwich for lunch the next day. I couldn't resist getting some kettle-cooked chips (the low fat version...but still...not such a great choice.) And then as I walked past the deli corner I saw the cutest little freshly- made quiche. It was about the size of a frozen pot pie and I walked by it several times before it somehow found its way into my cart. By the time I made it to checkout counter a pint of ice cream called "Everything But the Kitchen Sink" was along for the ride too.

As it turned out I stayed the extra day so the quiche was breakfast both mornings and the chicken sandwich lasted through 2 lunches too. The bag of chips fared well. I only ate some with lunch the first day. The pizza on the other hand got eaten up entirely. *heavy sigh here*

I watched some old family videos that had belonged to my folks and I inherited when they passed away. One was from Thanksgiving 1986. As I watched it I was amazed that my mom was younger in the video (by one year) than I am now! And she was thinner than I am now too! (amazingly I'd always described her as overweight.) It's all relative I guess. It was hard to tell what I looked like as I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with my youngest who was a 10-pounder at birth. Still - everything on me looked thin except my belly. I never gained much with any pregnancy. But I sure did somehow between then and now! I'm actually 35 pounds heavier now than I was at full term with my last child!

In spite of the weight observations though...I was taken with a keen sense of sadness as I watched a snippet of "yesterday" on the tape. My dad had insisted that he mount the camera on a tripod and record the entire meal! We all thought that was silly and after all - who would want to watch a boring tape of an entire Thanksgiving dinner! Me. Thank you very much...21 years later.

I've often wished that I could transport myself back in time and relive just one day in my life. I've never quite decided which day I'd pick. A special one...like Christmas...or just an ordinary one. But popping in the video Sunday night allowed me to do just that...albeit only as an observer. It was strange - capturing the whole meal as dad did - every little comment was recorded. Every glance...every movement. And I watched so keenly as what I had taken for granted so many years ago - played before my eyes. I noticed when late hubby kissed me on the cheek I pulled away. Why, I wonder? Was I angry about something? What I'd give now to have him plant a peck on my cheek. Why, now I'd turn around and throw my arms tightly around his neck! I watched as the kids played and laughed and saw the delight in my parents' eyes as they interacted with them. They've both been gone for 10 years now. I wonder if my daughters will remember how much they were loved and adored by them. I noticed how special mom made everything that day. The fancy table settings...the decorations...the candles....the food.... Had I noticed it all then? Or just taken it for granted?

Of course I cried. A lot. Six family members in that tape are no longer with us. Four couples from the extended family have divorced. Even the home that was the backdrop for that day is now inhabited by strangers. Do they know....can they feel the love that echos in those walls?

Before I went to bed that night I picked up the three journals that sit on one of the end tables and began re-reading them. I've kept a record of almost all of our visits to the lake and those memories now fill three separate books. Re-reading took me down yet another melancholy path through the years. I "watched" the kids grow up on those pages. I "saw" the cottage evolve to what it is now. Noted how I swam less each year. hmmm....

One entry that froze me was the one where late hubby and I had just returned from a walk around the lake. On that walk he had told me that his cancer had returned. We both knew what that meant. On the yellowed page of that first journal are the words "Pat & I took a walk around the lake tonight. When we got back...nothing looked the same." I never thought I'd be able to go on when I penned those words. The future was so scary and uncertain. But I did go on and while life is so very much different than is was then - it's still good.

I have a quest now to slow down and appreciate the "ordinary" times a little more now. Because it's all those "ordinary" days that fill in the spaces between the big ones. We always remember the big ones. But we forget those others. Those are the ones where life happens.

It was good to be at the lake alone with my thoughts these past few days. But it's good to be home too!

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