Hospice and Leave — Day 11
Day 11 (Sat 9/20):
I woke this morning to sunlight and the sound of dishes clinking. For a moment, I was disoriented the way I always am when I sleep somewhere new, but before I even opened my eyes, I remembered we were now home and that this is how I would wake up for the next few decades. I stretched and smiled…then I heard the clink again. The only dishes I had unpacked the night before were china and crystal. Someone — some child — was working in my kitchen. Only the sound of a bed barf has ever made me fly out of bed quicker.
I found Henry putting leftover doughnuts onto a saucer and pouring milk into a champagne flute. He was making me breakfast.
We sat together on the deck, eating and chatting. One by one, the family joined us…first Lillian, then the dog, then Clint, and finally Kadie. We cooked bacon and hashbrowns, and ate on the deck watching the hawks overhead and the turtles on the log at the water’s edge. There’s an airstrip on the island just upriver from us, but we’d never seen it being used until this morning when two biplane-looking planes suddenly erupted out of the treeline and soared overhead. We cheered.
We spent the morning unpacking and making lists of what we needed to buy first — all to the background sound of Soul Train which was playing on one of the three channels we could pick up without satellite or cable. Clint killed a snake while we were working outside. It was small but looked like a water moccasin to me. I wouldn’t let my babies into the yard until it was gone. Clint nodded patiently and chopped its head off for me.
I got to take a leisurely bath in my monstrously big bathtub before the Alabama football game came on. We cheered the Tide on to victory against Florida before we packed up and headed back to the campus house.
This is what our life will be now, I suppose. We will spend the school week at our faculty house on campus. It is the place of work and jobs, of busy schedules and To Do Lists. It is the place of the grind. We find joy in many aspects of our work, but it is work. And from now, we will spend as many non-working days as possible with the family at the lake house. This will be the place of long walks and talking on the deck, of identifying animal tracks and types of rock, of Apples To Apples and five-card draw, of projects in a house that is ours, and of things that matter most.
As we opened the door to our campus house, we were assaulted with the stench of decay. Clint tracked down the smell and discovered three mice had electrocuted themselves inside our dryer. He spent the next hour cleaning singed fur and bones out of the cord housing all the while managing to keep up a hilarious running commentary on the tragedy of mouse suicide pacts.
This, I realized, is true love. Over the years, along with the usual spiders and bugs, he’s taken care of snakes, mice, opossum, and a squirrel for me. In hindsight, wedding vows should include such realities. Clint’s could have been, “I promise to love you and honor you and help clean up all messes — biological and otherwise — our children make and to get rid of all the wild animals that make their way into your house forever.” Oh, how I love this man. ♥
At some point over the past couple of days, I started humming a song I haven’t heard or thought of in years. It was “our” song the whole six and half years we were dating. It’s by Toad the Wet Sprocket, and when we used to listen to it in college, I would picture what our life would be like…one day…when we were “grownups” with a house and kids and a dog:
Music in the bedroom
Laughter in the hall
Dive into the ocean
Singing by the fire
Running through the forest
And standing in the wind
In rolling canyons
I will not take these things for granted.