“Life is a Blank Canvas”

IMG_4090[1]Hello from my front porch,

It is a spectacular day and I have been working around the yard this morning. It is getting warm enough that I am sweating a bit, so I decided to sit in the shade of the porch and spend a bit of time reminiscing on the idea of Mother’s Day and the idea of honoring those around us. As I have noted in a couple of my latter postings, we do have a penchant for taking both time and people for granted. I am guilty as charged of the omission of telling another that they have an important place in my life. While my biological mother is still alive, I have not reached out to her in 12 years or so, and our last interaction was far from ideal. My adopted mother, about whom I have written on a number of occasions has been gone for over 25 years, and the person who became a mother, a partner of sorts, a friend, and one who probably affected me more than any other mother-figure has been gone for four months. Lydia was similar in age to my adopted mother, but they were both very different and ironically similar in some ways. It is something upon which I have reflected quite often and that was even before Lydia passed away. I continue to wonder about this different, unparalleled, and incredible person with whom I was blessed to spend almost 10 years. It has certainly been a time of adjustment. I am still trying to get everything managed and just got more paperwork in the mail this week.

I have reached out to some people today for this holiday, and there are a few more I should send a message or call before the day is completed. . . . It is hard to believe that life has continued to scoot by and I did not get this either composed or posed. Now I am sitting in Caribou Coffee in Menomonie and I am back to manage more of the things that I have been asked to care for. Yesterday I went to the cemetery and put flowers on Lydia’s and George’s grave. Today I will go to Chippewa and finish up the ordering of and paying for the headstone that will mark their final resting place. I meet with her attorney this morning to see how to finally complete things. In the mean while I am trying to pack my belongings that are still here, finish the paper that I need to present on Saturday and manage the online course I am taking to become QM certified as an online instructor. All in all, it is busy, but it has been productive. When I get back to PA, I have another conference to help participate and manage.

This trip to Menomonie is certainly a reality check of sorts. The stark difference that Lydia is gone and I am here to manage that estate and move my things has hit me hard at moments. As I began this posting some almost three weeks ago, (and it seems like a year versus three weeks)the feeling that one has lost a parent (again) is one of those life-changing moments. I have again reflected on the life that Lydia had (90 years) in a time that saw so many changes in the world, and particularly for her. From WWII and the unbelievable consequences of that war, both personally and even as a civilization, from her life in Europe to coming to the United States, her becoming an academic and living a commuter marriage long before most people considered such a thing. In many ways she was far ahead of her time and more of a feminist that many would consider. I am not sure she would have referred to herself as a feminist . . .  and while she was fiercely independent, she had a propensity for appreciating males much more than she did females. When I think about some of her mannerisms and idiosyncrasies, I still believe she had a sense of autism to her, but she was brilliant. Yet, I am reminded that if you moved something on a cupboard or in some place in her garage she would notice it and move it back. Her meticulous nature about so many things was unequalled. Her keen attention to detail was something about which I often marveled (and still do). What I realize now as I ponder things is her struggle with dementia began much sooner than I think any of us realized. I think of how she would repeat certain phrases or things. Initially I thought it was a quirk, but as I think back, in the latter stages of her illness, she did the same things, but to a much greater extent. So were those things a harbinger of what was to come?

During this week, there has been a sort of bittersweet sense of my visit for a number of reasons. Later this summer (toward the end of August), I will have lived in Bloomsburg longer than I lived in Menomonie. That is the longest I have lived in a place since I graduated from high school 42 years ago. I think about the changes I have witnessed in my own life and I think the two most profound changes I see are how I have been able to travel and see things. I grew up in a blue-collar family and vacations were not something we could afford very well, or at least that is how it seemed. We went on two family vacations my entire life. The one to the Black Hills of South Dakota is still memorable to me. However, the point is, I did not travel a great deal. In my adult life, I guess I have seldom sat still (at least geographically). The second change for me is the use of technology and how it has affected both our communication and our learning processes. I think that has been a very profound thing on me and it continues to be so. I am at a Computers and Writing Conference as I write this and, indeed, the fact that it is at Stout makes it really convenient and accessible. I am busy working on that paper as well as working on my own online course that I am taking. That online course has been terrifically time consuming, but I am learning a great deal.

The title of my posting is off the side of a Caribou Coffee cup, where I am sitting and writing this. It is ironic that I post from here because it was 12 years ago this coming fall that I first started to come to this Caribou. It is where I wrote a large part of my dissertation. It is one of the places in Menomonie that I most feel at home.  The feelings of wanting to hold on, but realizing the need to let go have caused me to struggle with sleeping. The need to pack my things and the struggle of actually doing it has been my constant companion these last days. There are pieces that have fallen into place and then moments of best laid plans gone awry. So the week has been a Tale of Two Cities personified. . . . It is now Tuesday morning and the truck is packed. I need to load the Harley, stop at the house insurance people and go to the bank. Then things in Menomonie are completed. I got in touch with a couple people yesterday who have been important to me professionally and personally during my time at Stout (thank you, Lexi and Sasha).  It will be an interesting drive back across the country and for the first time, with the exception of some details, I will not have a significant focus still here in Wisconsin. I still remember driving here from Houghton in August of 2003. I remember feeling that I had moved to the epitome of small town Americana with its summer bandshell concerts and pie sales, it’s farmers market and county fair. Those were my first week experiences. It seems the blank canvas was filled way beyond what I could have ever imagined. I have been blessed in so many ways by this Duodecim años period. I have been forever changed by the experiences, the people, and by the joys and less than joyful moments. But overall, as I will pull away from 307/311 Park Circle with a closing of responsibilities, I know that I will always love you, Lydia. From that first day I met you, you changed my life and you changed me. Vielen Dankt, meinen Mütter. Mit meinem ganzen Herzen, ich liebe dich.

Thanks for reading,
Michael

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s