Happy Birthday To Me!!

I am 56 years old today.  My children called, of course, and asked me what I am doing today.  Cleaning house, naturally.  It is what I do.  For me cleaning house usually includes moving a piece of furniture or some pile of stuff I no longer want wherever it is piled. 

It’s a joke with my immediate family.  My older duchess fusses about my moving things around in the house.  Thoroughly encouraged by her Paw Paw.  She’s going to be fussing next time she comes even though I discussed some of my plans with her.  I moved our bed to another wall where I prefer it.  And in the green room I turned a bed a different direction and swapped two bookcases relocating the television that sits on top of one.

 I refer to the extra bedroom as the green room because it has a pretty moss green carpet.  I have two queen beds, a full-size iron bed and three large bookcases full of books situated around the room.  This is the room the girls and I sleep in when they come to visit.  We always watch television when we go to bed. The kitty cat movie was the only thing going for a long time.  That is Disney’s Aristocats. Recently, we’ve been watching the original Scooby Doo cartoons I have recorded.  This is why the moving of the television might be an issue.  She will likely make some comments about it and we will laugh at Granny always moving stuff.

Once upon a time, when I pulled the furniture out from the wall to clean behind it every few weeks, I would put the furniture back someplace different.  I would often just get up in the morning and without really planning, I would move things as I cleaned.  Large pieces of furniture. Like beds and dressers and sofas.  See the opening line of this post?  I don’t do that as often as I once did.  I guess that is one barometer of my aging body.  I am less likely to dig in to big projects.

Nevertheless, I did move a lot of furniture yesterday.  Pulling the books and “artifacts” as I call my collection of junk, was a big project.  I did get a chance to be reminded of some of the books I have accumulated and not taken the time to read. 

Another project I tackled over the past few weeks is relocating an old project.  I was in my twenties when I set some broken pieces of concrete from my great grandparent’s porch into an amateur patio.  I pulled out those pieces that were now in the middle of the cow lot and with his helpful tractor skills, we moved the blocks over here to the back of the porch.  I set in a new amateur patio as the first step toward a Houdash pond. Granny Sally always had a Houdash pond in her yard.  Wherever she lived, she put one in. Just a hole dug out and lined it with cement mixed in a wheelbarrow and spread by hand to make it hold water. That would then become the focal point for tropical plants and hold a few goldfish.  The goldfish did well if the pond was deep enough to discourage the fishing coons.  

I had one at our house at Camper’s Cove.  It was right outside the living room windows.  I dug it in August after dark one year.  There was a gutter that ran off the roof straight in to it and kept it flushed, filled and fresh.  Granny’s ponds were refilled with rainwater and a water hose, as needed.  My new one will be the same.

Why do I do all this?  Rearranging furniture, moving and situating my personal things, digging in the dirt, planting and tending things that grow.  Even sorting out and rearranging my clothes in the closet play a part.  Trying to satisfy the urge to create beauty and order from chaos.  To be simply creative. No matter how primitive my efforts.  I enjoy the process.  More times than not, I enjoy the product. 

He doesn’t seem to mind all my eccentricities.  He often offers to help with the big stuff and always helps when I ask for it.  I couldn’t do a lot of it without his support and wouldn’t without his approval.  I try to run things by him that will affect his movements.  Mostly, he just lets me go and do.  My projects are usually recycled materials and found objects.  If I can’t do 98% of the actual work myself, I skip it.  It’s the doing that counts and having what I’ve done my self. I don’t know any other woman that would be satisfied with my creations.  That’s okay.  I do it for me anyway. 

There is a new component to my work.  There are two duchesses who come to play here sometimes.  I recall how much I loved my grandmother’s tropical landscape.  I am trying to recreate one for myself and for them.  When they are older and see a banana tree or cannas blooming, they can recall summers playing in the shade of the bananas and ooing over the bright tropical blooms of the cannas.  And remember how much they are loved by a tolerant Paw Paw and an eccentric Granny. 

Reckless Abandon

A few years ago, I painted the ice box and upright deep freezer fronts with chalkboard paint.  I had written some words and phrases on the ice box with chalk markers and later when I washed them off, they left traces of the lines.  My older duchess was here recently and wanted to draw with the chalk. I gave her the little container of chalk and went on with the dish washing.  I looked around a few minutes later and she had drawn a cloud and a rainbow.  Then she had traced over the letters she could still see faintly showing.  “Love with reckless abandon” and the heart outline I had washed off for them to be able to use it for their play had been retraced. 

She wanted to know what it said. (She’s four.)  I told her and then she wanted to know what it meant. 

I tried to explain. 

Later, I thought about loving with reckless abandon.  To me, it is how it felt when I was her age and even until I was about ten.  When I loved, it was without reservation.  It was without condition or hesitation or fear of rejection or concern about reciprocation.  Love just was and everyone felt it as intensely as I did.  Or so I thought. I am speaking of more than romantic love.  I am also speaking of love between two individuals as friends or family members.  I was in my twenties before I truly realized that the experience of love I have is not universal.  I was so terribly naïve.  I thought love could work itself through anything.  It cannot work one way, though. 

As we age, cynicism tends to set in.  Or simply protective layers develop without our realizing.  Many people never learn how to love.  Some only love themselves.  Many people never feel the exuberance of real, deep, true love.  As I age, I think “many” should probably read “most”.  Perhaps early on they had it, but life was too painful to continue to try to sustain the seeking of reciprocation.  The heart and mind push away the painful memory and they forget it exists.  

Maybe that is why grandchildren are so important to our hearts.  When we are young and our children are young, there is a feeling of safety with the love between us.  The knowing that at the end of the day, the snuggles and hugs are without reservation.  The love in our hearts has a reckless abandon that only confidence of unconditional reciprocation brings. That same feeling returned with the duchesses’ arrival into the world. 

Love, passion, anger.  Strong emotions we are taught to control and suppress.  They are reckless.  They are dangerous.  They bring with them pain.  Pain is proof of being alive.  I continue to strive for the fullness of exuberance and love.  May I have the courage to face the pain of it all and love with reckless abandon.  As I age, I want the scales of protection to fall away.  I want the tender places to be open again.  With maturity, I hope to manage the pain with grace and mercy and not with closing off. 

I want to love Him and him with reckless abandon and exuberance and passion.  I want to grow into the person the Lord wants me to be.  I want to grow into the woman my husband needs me to be. I want to grow into the mother and grandmother my children need as the years continue.  We still have a lot of living to do and I want it to be as wonderful as the first 37 years.  Even better. Happy Anniversary, Rock.  I love you! Recklessly.