Every year after Mother’s Day, I slip off my wedding rings and tuck them away until fall. Spring and summer on the farm are dirty, sticky months full of soil and planting, clanging metal gates and cattle charging. It is no place for precious metal. Every year, I am struck by the age my hands have gained. They are not my hands. They are my grandmother’s.
(Photo credit to the lovely Lynell Shooks Miller)
This is a season of life out here on the farm. There are five sweet robin eggs in the garden birdhouse, bright baby blue. Six new baby longhorns are running through the evening light as I type, daring one to chase the other. The strawberries are flowering and about to bud and tomatoes will be planted this weekend. Two of our best friends welcomed a baby boy into their family this afternoon. New life is everywhere.
My grandmother is in the final stages of life. A phone call this afternoon confirmed that the very last days are here. My grief is tempered by the understanding that she is going to feel so much better soon… her body has waged war against her for 30 years, crippling her with arthritis. That will end, and I can ask for no greater gift.
She left me her arthritis. I see it when I take off my rings and in passing… a flash in the mirror, a certain angle of a photograph. I feel it in my joints and I read it in my medical file. Her story will be mine soon enough. She also gave me her orange fedora and Polish hips. We are that kind of family.
I am literally surrounded today by life and death… both are staring at me, sitting on my porch and streaking across the sky. And yet, I forget the enormity. There are library books to return and lunches to make. Gus has attached himself to the van with a bungee cord, and Abby is 3 days short of a nap. I live in the in-between until the phone rings and the extremes make themselves known again. It’s easy to forget the extremes even exist when you are trying to find the twist-tie to the bread.
But then again, we can’t live in those extremes. We can visit but we cannot settle. There must be a foundation to steady the life and death, beginnings and ends. There must be somewhere to come home to.
So I will make an apple pie and set the table… like every night.
And I will hide my rings and plant new seeds.
And I will grieve the end of life and cheer the beautiful new breaths.
Because I live in the in-between. THAT is home.
Amazing really… how the best days and the worst days and all the days in-between… all the days start with a sunrise and end with a sunset.