Sunday, November 08, 2009

Empty Windows

Autumn is in full stride, with the leaves on our maple trees both front and back dropping, each leaf floating delicately to the grass below.

I hurt my back two years ago holding up a gas-powered blower in an effort to corral the leaves. I'd blow them into a pile, put on the vacuum attachment, and grind them up as they were sucked into the bag. All that weight, however, put my lower back muscles into such tight spasms that I couldn't move. They are still sensitive to any extended strain.

Last year, I borrowed a lawn mower from my brother and ground up the leaves. I raked the smaller pieces into piles that I placed into large brown kraft bags and put them by the roadside for pickup. That was quite inefficient.

This year I'm borrowing my neighbor's lawn mower that has a bag attachment. It doesn't hold a whole lot but it is more efficient and less taxing on my body that the other solutions. Now there are 21 filled bags along the edge of the front lawn but the tree in back has about 10-20% more to drop. I wish they were all down today since it is relatively warm at 55˚F and just right for yard work.

As I mowed and bagged, I caught myself scanning the windows along the back of the house for my mother. She always sat in the rocking chair and watched, or looked out the kitchen windows to monitor my progress. It didn't hit me when I looked and she wasn't in the chair. I shifted to the kitchen figuring she must be there. And then it sunk in that she wasn't here anymore, and as corny as it sounds, will never watch me rake up the leaves again.


Greg said...

That watchfulness is tough to shift, isn't it? It was pretty ingrained in me after just a month or two with my Mother, so I can imagine that it'll take a good while for you before you stop looking over your shoulder. I believe that noticing these little tics and reporting them is a large part of conquering them, though.

I feel it's a valuable thing to report the continual little adjustments and insights that come to the carer after his/her charge has moved on. It's so easy for those who haven't gone through this to imagine that it's all immediately hunky dory as soon as your parent is in a facility.

karen said...

You had to make me cry didn't you. I had not thought about mom coming to check on me while I was doing yard work. She used to come out and yell if she could not see me from the window. It used to bug me to death. Now she just sits in her easy chair all day and does not even notice I am not in the room.

Mom said...

Your post brings a lump to my throat. You are a good son.

Gavin said...

I was crying when I wrote this post so y'all aren't alone in shedding any tears. I filled up again when I re-read it before writing this comment.

I've also caught myself reaching for the tv remote to turn down the volume so it won't wake up mother dear. So interesting how our minds get trained.

citygirl said...

Ugh! I should learn not to read blogs while I'm at work. I'm tearing up terribly at my desk.

I totally get the scene/feeling you wrote about. After we moved my mom into care, I'd go over to her house to check on it (while we were figuring out what to do with it). I'd walk around making sure all was in order and almost expect mom to be in her usual spots. Every house-check visit was a teary one.

ArichNY said...

It's not corny at all. I'm reminded of a quote I put once on my blog, a quote from Angels in America: "Nothing lasts forever. In this world there's a kind of painful progress; longing for what we've left behind, and dreaming ahead..."

ArichNY said...

[I sent to soon . . . wanted to add this . . . ]
I've had those same feelings over these past 4 1/2 years as my life changed so drastically in such a short time.

Lacey said...

not corny at all. I'll be scanning the paper and see that Wegman's has roast beef on sale and immediately reach for the phone to call my mother to ask if she wants me to pick her up's like a flash...comes and goes in half a second before I remember that she's gone since 1983. I can't even explain it. I hadn't even thought about it until I read your post. And now I sit here with tears streaming. I'd like to think it's a wonderful tribute to a love so strong that it lingers after 26 years of, um...26 years of life, I guess. thank you for sharing.