Archive for the ‘being alone’ Category
Serendipity. Perhaps it will be Serena for short. Meet the new-old jeep purchased with a handshake a couple of weeks ago. Of course, there’s a back story.
About three weeks ago, I got to thinking that my trusty van which has weathered several winter trips to the southwest, was in need of some maintenance and repairs. However, how was I to arrange this? I live alone and have only the one vehicle. I have no one to ask for a ride anywhere — at least no one who would not be inconvenienced. And so I began thinking about trying to find a reasonably priced vehicle to purchase as a back-up and general run-about car.
I perused kijiji looking for something local that might fit the bill, but didn’t see anything too hopeful. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed an ad on the bulletin board at the grocery store. It read, “2003 Jeep Liberty, good condition, $2000” and a couple of phone numbers. I had no pen on me, so I committed the numbers to memory with the intention of calling that evening. However, after arriving home, the numbers had vanished from my memory. Too bad.
A couple of days later, I went to the local lumberyard to buy a sheet of plywood. Just after it was loaded, I noticed a silver jeep with a for sale sign in the window. The numbers jogged my memory. They were the same numbers as seen on the ad in the grocery store. I looked around for someone to ask about the jeep, but everyone was busy with customers, so I departed with the intention of returning in a day or two to find out to whom it belonged. A couple of days later, the jeep sort of forgotten due to so many other things on my mind, I was filling a gas can at the local gas station. I looked up and there was the Jeep parked behind my van, waiting for its turn at the pump. There was a young guy at the wheel. Someone was chatting with him about whether he would be playing fiddle at some local event that weekend. Hmmm… THE Jeep, and it was owned by a fiddler. Interesting.
I walked back to ask about the jeep, then went inside to pay for the gas purchase. I moved the van up alongside the Jeep over on one side of the parking lot. We talked for a few minutes. Me asking a few questions and the young fellow producing a wad of parts invoices to show me what he had fixed on the jeep since buying it a little over a year ago. He wanted to buy a full size truck now. I gave the jeep a quick looking over — under the hood, looked inside and sat on the seat to see if it was comfortable. Then I said I’d probably take it — that I’d think about it a bit more overnight, but that I’d probably be down to the lumberyard to put a deposit on it the next morning. We shook hands on the deal and departed. I did return the next morning to put a couple of hundred bucks down, and left instructions for him to deliver it to my place in about a week — after my yard was less jammed full of roofing company vehicles (the roof was being replaced that week). It was all pretty casual.
Thursday morning came and I dropped by the lumberyard to give the young fellow the all clear to deliver the Jeep the following evening. I went to a music jam that evening. The next day, while I was out and about and driving home along the highway that runs by my place, there was a huge bang from the front end of my dependable van. It swerved crazily as I tried to get it stopped without crashing in the ditch. Finally, it came to a halt. I sat at the wheel regrouping my thoughts. I looked up to see a man jogging quickly toward me. He called, “Are you okay?! I heard a huge bang from up at my house. Sounded like something terrible happened.”
I climbed down out of the van and we walked around to the passenger side. Indeed, something bad did happen. The passenger side front wheel was twisted around into a crazy angle and the van was lying sort of canted over in a huge rut dug into the shoulder of the road. I knew at a glance that it must have been a broken tie rod end or control arm.
The van was off the road enough that it was in a relatively safe spot. The man from up the road ran back to his house and called a tow truck. When he returned, he and I and an unknown but very nice woman who had immediately stopped to help, got my canoe unlashed from the roof of the van and carried it up the road to the man’s house. He offered me some apple juice while we waited for the tow truck. He asked if I would like anything removed from the van and offered to drive me and my stuff home, then backed his van up where we could remove several heavy pails of plaster, a couple of big pails of water, and a grocery order. Then the tow truck showed up. Unfortunately, the van’s size and the kind of damage would require a ramp truck, so the tow truck driver put some pylons around to make the van more visible. He said to me, “It’s all looked after now. I want you to get that worried look off your face. I’ll take care of the rest.” The tow truck departed and my newly acquired friendly neighbour drove me and all my stuff the 3 or so miles home to my place, helped me unload, then drove off after telling me not to worry about my canoe — it would be safe in his yard until I could come by and pick it up.
An hour or so later, the Jeep was delivered by the young fellow. He signed off all the papers on it and I handed him the cash for the Jeep. I couldn’t do anything about getting the licensing done until after the weekend, so the Jeep sat in the yard for three days. The next morning, I thought I should try it out — after all, I hadn’t even driven it around. I backed it around the front yard and it seemed okay.
After the weekend, a fellow widowed friend drove me to Digby to get insurance and a licence for the Jeep. I had made some phone calls ahead of time, so the whole process went very smoothly. We returned home, me with licence plate in hand. She departed and I stuck the plate on in readiness for driving to a kitchen jam at the arts centre that evening.
The Jeep and I have had a couple of days to get to know each other. Sure, it has a bunch of little things wrong with it. Yesterday, I epoxied the brackets for the rear lift glass shocks back into place. There will be other things to take care of, but basically, the little Jeep seems pretty decent for two grand. I’m happy. I drove it out to the garage that’s going to work on the van — if it can be repaired. A very nice mechanic who everyone says is the best and also a good, straight, honest guy – thinks the van can be repaired and that the damage probably isn’t as bad as it looks. I told him to take his time. I have my little Jeep now… Serendipity, that is.
This morning, I picked up a bottle of Gaspereau Valley wine and dropped by at the helpful neighbour’s house to pick up my canoe. He came up from working in the field out back. We tied the canoe up top on the jeep. He even found a good piece of hardwood to make a cross-bar for the roof rack. We had a good chat while we secured the canoe in place. As we finished, I presented him with the bottle of wine. He wished me luck and, once again, I thanked him as I drove off for home.
Serendipity. Not just with regard to the timely arrival of the Jeep, but with the van not crashing worse than it did, or in a really bad location. And for finding a good garage with a good mechanic and tow truck driver. And for all the wonderful help of a neighbour whom I’ve never met before. And a friend to drive me to the licence office to get the Jeep’s plates. All is reasonably well — in a summer that has been a little more stressful than it should have been.
I think Serendipity is a good name for this Jeep. And it wears its canoe hat very well. And Sage and Shelby seems to like lying in the shadow that it casts out on the grassy lawn.
Last night marked five years since Don’s death. I worked on this post for quite awhile, but the right words did not happen, so I finally gave up and got some sleep with the hope that I would know what to write this morning.
These annual posts are difficult for me. What to say?
Of course, I like to begin by choosing a few photos of Don that help me to remember him as the strong, healthy, man that he was for most of his life. Those days far outnumber the brief period of his illness. I don’t like to think of those last few months, but unfortunately, I cannot shake those memories and find them difficult to push away in spite of my best efforts. Anyhow, I thought this group of photos was particularly nice because they were taken along some of the many trails we hiked with Sabrina. We hiked, snowshoed, and paddled on trails, lakes and rivers all over eastern Canada. They were the best of times.
So, what to say this year – that hasn’t already been said before?
As might be expected, I still miss Don very much. He is in my thoughts each day as various situations trigger some recollection or cause me to wonder what he would have done or said if he’d been here. But, you know how it is – life goes on with or without you. And so I carry on, although there have been times when I’ve become very tired of everything and ready to throw in the towel. But I am still here. I keep the promise that I made – that I would carry on.
What else might be said?
Without any doubt, I know that Don’s death has changed me. Life is about change and we are all in the process of transformation from the time of our birth to that of death. However, certain events can precipitate radical change whether we like it or not. Being left to carry on alone has provoked me to become a person I barely know. For example, I am, by nature, a very shy and reclusive person. If I had my druthers, I would have spent the remainder of my life with Don, working and then doing the things we liked to do – hiking and traveling together when not just putzing around our own place, gardening, building things, or whatever. I do still do these things, but have had to force myself to interact far beyond anything that is within my comfort zone, especially when traveling on my own.
It may not be apparent to others, but all of this muddling on alone has been difficult in the extreme and has taken its toll over these five years of traveling, selling the farm, buying an old house to work on, moving, figuring out what to do, managing finances, trying to keep the dogs and me well, sort out the endless crap that we all have to deal with in life. Those tasks or problems that were once discussed and dealt with by the two of us, still had to be done. Many times, I have felt absolutely sick inside about having to deal with yet one more problem, but one way or another, in the end, I do – because I must. The proverbial buck stops here. The good thing in all of this is that it usually seems that I’m doing just about what Don and I would have decided upon together. It seems that a good part of his thinking rubbed off on me during our thirty-four years together. I used to feel like I was half a person after he died, but maybe it is more like being one-and-a-half in his absence. In any case, whatever is going on, it seems to be working and I manage in spite of myself.
So, what else can be said about these past five long years?
I guess I have learned a thing or two about life (and death). In truth, I knew most of this already – gleaned during the time while I was caring for my father during his terminal illness. However, repeating the process a second time while caring for Don served to reinforce these lessons.
* Be kind to others. It costs very little to be kind – to speak kindly to others – to reach out and help someone when they need a hand – to give something to someone when it will make a big (or even a small) difference to their existence. It is true about paying it forward. Everything you do for the good or bad, will eventually be returned to you – so try to make it all good.
* Treat others as if it may be the last time you see them. That might just be the case. If you love someone, tell them. It’s not sissy stuff. It means a lot. I am so glad that, in the finally weeks of my dad’s and Don’s lives, I told them how I felt. It meant a great deal to them and to me.
* Objects are just things and don’t really mean a hell of a lot. Our society puts great emphasis on material stuff, but it’s true about not being able to take it with you when you go. Worrying about your stuff is a real pain in the ass (just ask George Carlin). It’s also true that leaving a bunch of stuff behind for someone else to deal with isn’t a good thing. But more importantly, after you lose someone, or maybe two or more someones, you begin to twig onto the fact that stuff is sort of dumb. It’s relationships and experiences that are what count. These last few years, I’ve lost, given up, given away or had so much stuff broken, but it’s all seemed virtually meaningless compared to losing the people I love.
* Try to leave the world as a better place than when you arrived. Most of us may be feeling like what’s happening around us is beyond our control. That’s probably quite true. However, maybe this is just the right time to push back. The time to make the greatest difference is often that moment when it feels like things can’t get any worse. Believe me – I’m kind of an expert at recognizing those moments. Think of all the good that we humans could be doing here on this planet – but what are we doing instead? We have so much potential. Why are we squandering it on stupid shit? Why can’t we put all our considerable intellect, effort and resources into solving real problems – like curing cancer and other diseases, ending poverty and starvation around the world, lessening our impact on the environment. Can we not choose right over wrong?
Well, that is all for this year’s reflections.
To Don: I miss you and will love you – always.