We continue to have a mutually beneficial exchange of goods, services, and goodwill with our neighbor who lost her son, as she’s sorting through his belongings, and fixing up the house.
Today Erin was scraping the garage door, cleaning up, and hosing down the area in preparation for painting. Meanwhile I was digging a drainage ditch to direct water away from the garage, helping E, and improving upon the memorial bird sanctuary. The neighbor had big bales of cedar chips that I used to mulch it.
Our neighbor is funding supplies, but also giving us lots of useful items. Today she gave us some fresh corn and watermelon, and an old purple bike! It just needs a little repair, and then I’ll have a bike to ride.
In between working, we all sat under the trees and talked. She and E are able to relate to each other’s extreme losses and grieving process, so it’s a more meaningful exchange. They take turns crying and laughing. It turns out she is fairly knowledgeable about Jewish customs, having studied them for years, so that was a pleasant surprise. We’re going to have her over for a Shabbat meal soon.
Here are some more scenes from around our expanded estate. I was excited to see the first flowers on my sugar snow peas today.
Living in working-class Ohio, I see a lot of slow people waddling around in a fog without a clue, but this was surreal even for here.
We heard someone pounding hard on our downstairs door, like a maniac. We ran down to discover the old lady who used to live next door for years (on the other side), who had had to be moved to her daughter’s house for supervision, banging away, not at our front door, but at the side door only used for occasional access. It appears her kids had brought her with them to visit her old home, which is being emptied and renovated, and somehow she had “escaped” (to go smoke a cigarette, or something) and wandered off in her demented state, and thought her daughter had locked her out! She didn’t even recognize us, her old neighbors, or the fact that she was at the wrong house.
We got her sorted and sent back over to her family who were outside trying to figure out where she had gotten to. The whole experience would have been comical, if it weren’t so surreal and disturbing, and a little too close to home, STS.
To review: just shoot me if I get like that. It’s just wrong.
Our neighbor who just lost her son is trying to process and sort a lifetime of belongings, and feeling very alone and confused. We seem to have come along at just the right time to be like, as she puts it, her guardian angels. She doesn’t have much family left, so we’re listening, empathizing, helping her around the place, and just being there to help her go through stuff, both emotional and physical.
I’m cleaning up and maintaining her garden, including her son’s memorial garden as I call it, to which I added bird-friendly features. He was a nature-lover. E is offering her services cleaning up and painting the garage exterior and house interior, which the neighbor is funding.
When our friend gets overwhelmed with memories and guilt, we help her slow down and feel better. There were some sad issues in her son’s life, and though she did everything a mother could do to provide a supportive place for him, she still blames herself for not doing more. E can totally relate, and can also provide practical skills, so it’s a mutually beneficial situation. I get to garden more, and I’ll be helping paint the interior.
E is going through her own grieving process, so it gives her someone to take her mind off her own struggles. Our friend is glad to have some company and guidance through this frightening time. It’s another instance of synchronicity happening in our lives.
So, here we have: a German-style red potato and pea salad with a mustard caraway cider vinaigrette and fresh dill, chives, and parsley; sautéd assorted vegetables with fresh herbs; roasted chicken with red wine, fresh basil, oregano, sage, and spices; and of course E’s fabulous homemade Challah. Not bad for living on a low fixed income.
(I should explain, in case it hasn’t become obvious by now, that we always eat our one daily main meal by early/mid-afternoon, so as to burn energy and calories earlier in the day. It just seems to make more sense with our lifestyle.)