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One of the scariest and best things I have ever done.

22 Dec

“Oh my! No time to pour my heart out. It overflows already as I go through the leftover possessions, photos, files, clothes, and everything in every drawer of my large house. I am leaving.
It is wrenching, but worth it. A new life beckons even though I will be living in my mother’s house and not my own. Even though I have no paying job at the moment. Still, I am elated with the innumerable opportunities available to me!”

I wrote these words in the midst of my move and you can hear the anguish and tension along with the hopeful quality which made it possible to do this with so little forethought.

And the results have been positive beyond belief. First of all I am happy. I am happy in my newly painted, robin’s egg blue room. Some of my favorite small things have found a resting place here. My vermeil dresser set which belonged to my grandmother Lilla Youngblood Buchanan sits atop the dresser. Along with many of my clothes, this piece of furniture holds my necessary accessories such as gloves, and headbands, jeweled hair clips and small scarves and sachets and some simple jewelry and broken treasures not yet repaired. There is a photograph of the pear trees at Heathfield before they came down. I will share that story at a future date. A great lesson which I remember every time I look at that photo. There is a cup, hard-painted by Jules Fritz who used to be the gardener here when I was a little girl. It has my name and his and the date Xmas 1949. This is one of my most cherished possessions.

Several favorite lamps illuminate the space with various amounts of wattage. Sometimes I write with only romantic low lighting surrounding me. Other times I use the brightest setting to distinguish one set of black trousers from another, ditto black turtle necks. Light comes in very handy in those instances.

People who wear a great deal of black will understand.

 

Mostly this room is a happy place where I play my own music. I sit with and cuddle my long haired, black and tan dachshund Magnus. We both enjoy this. Sometimes I open the doors to my balcony and let Magnus go outside and sun himself while I read or write. He lets me know if anyone approaches the house. I have plenty of free time here in my upper story lair at the opposite end of the house from my mothers room.

If you must caretake for an older parent, be sure you have an area in which to retreat and gather new energy. Rebooting, I call it. And just as it helps your phone or computer, it will help you, too.

These days I take time for myself and I meditate. Meditation has changed my life. It has changed me. The idea is to never skip a day. And it is rare that I do. Even a few minutes can make a huge difference in my day. In fact, I am going to go find a quiet spot in which to meditate right now.

December 21st 2017

Fall 2017 A Time of Change

23 Oct

Sometimes we suddenly know what to do next. Solutions just come down to us as a message from outside ourselves. Some might say it is divine, others simply point to inspiration from our own inner selves. It really does not matter. The point is to follow when the directions are given.

Lately this happened to me as I swam peacefully doing “lengths” all alone one morning. I have been torn lately by my desire to be in my house in Charlottesville Virginia and by the necessity of being in Washington DC with my charming and healthy 99 year old mother. Her friends are mostly gone and she is lonely. What a dilemma! No matter in which place I found myself there was always a pull to be in the other location.

Then that September morning as I swam, it suddenly came to me. The Serenity Prayer which I first heard at a High School assembly, popped into my mind. I am sure you know it:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

The sentiments involved in that prayer have guided me over and over in my life but sometimes, I need a little push. That is what I got that day in the cool, gentle water, under a clear blue sky. A thunderbolt of an idea that has sent me on a difficult path. I understood that I cannot do anything about my aging mother and her need for entertainment and management of her help. That is out of my hands. But what I can do is stop being divided in my attention. It is entirely in my power to give up my house in Charlottesville and move permanently to live full time with Mother in Washington DC.

As I write this, I am in Charlottesville moving out of my house to live in Washington DC.  But I got sick last week when I first came down here.  REALLY SICK. I am sure it was psychological because it is wrenching to move and to give away my things.

Deciding to divest myself of my things was a big decision which I did not consider for much more than an instant. I just knew immediately that it was the right thing to do.

I am making space, making space in my life for whatever is coming next. As I keep telling friends and family, it is very liberating.  But of course there is a huge sense of loss of a former self and a host of memories associated with each object, each piece of furniture, each set of china, each lamp, painting and rug and every piece of silver….So, even if I am completely happy about the move and about giving these possessions away….There is still an emotional wrench.

So I got sick.  Now my health has improved and though there is still a lingering cough and congestion.  Because I could not go back to Mother’s house with that horrible cold/flu I have stayed in Charlottesville all week.  So I am almost finished with my moving out. What a sense of satisfaction I shall have at the end. I am almost there!

The Oak Tree

12 Jun

All of it’s branches reach out.  Stretching skyward, slender or stout, shortened, truncated by man, or extending far from the center, those branches leafed out in June, shade the ground. Within green cooled air, lightly sighing leaf sounds compete with the twitter of  birds who fight for space on the bird feeders placed under the canopy. That tree has anchored the place since 200 years before the birth of my mother.

It has a name. The Dumblane Oak. It is a landmark and well known by many in the early 20th century. But that was another century.

Now, cracks are showing in the bark. New ones, that were not there even a couple of weeks ago. The end is near. The giant oak is completely hollow, though huge and gnarly, it is gently dying. The root structure is gone to the east and south east. Will it last another 3 weeks? NOT sure.

What a legacy. Power in a tree. Magnificent, majestic, mighty this tree calls alliteration to mind, even though trite, the fit is there. There are few like it. And none that grace the yard of a private home in the middle of the capital of the United States of America. This huge, stolid trunk is weakening from the inside. Though we who love it want to believe it will outlive us, we can see that it is almost gone into legend. Though it still stands, reaching to the sky and thick with leaves, the underpinnings of the tree are gone. Where once roots burrowed under the ground and interfered with growing lawn, the carpet is thick and green, with fast growing grass.

Overlooking my childhood that oak tree stood sentinel. Glancing at it sideways, it was just “there”. Shading our front yard in hot Washington DC summers, we were grateful for the coolness beneath those spreading arms.  Yet, unconsciously the presence as a constant gave stability to my growing years until we left to live in Europe.  Then I missed it.  Then we had a smooth grass circle in front of the Embassy and it seemed naked. How I missed my home with the fabulous leafy tree, unlike any other that I knew. I longed for the thick trunk and overreaching green leafed canopy, the acorns in the fall, the bare branches silloetted  against the winter sky, the thousands of spring tassles that preceded the early leafing out.

I loved that tree. We all loved it and we all still do. It frightens us to imagine the space without it. How strange that would/ will be. How unsettling and unusually bright. The entire house would change for the worse, or at least for a very different aspect. But life goes on.  The land will still be there when the tree is gone. Someone will tear down the house once called “Underoak” and build something made of steel and glass. An office building? An embassy? An addition to the American University campus? Will I live to see this change?