Well, how can I describe my summer thus far? We put the farm on the market, and it sold. We put Cinnamon Ridge on the market, and it also sold. I was in the middle of finishing Mulberry Moon. The buyer for the ridge was supposedly going to pay cash and pushing for an early closing and possession date. The ridge has collected stuff behind my back over the fifteen years that we’ve lived here. I swear that I don’t know where some of this junk came from–or maybe I should be asking myself, “What in the world were you thinking?” I will donate a lot of stuff this summer, for sure.
Anyway, with both places sold, we found ourselves with nowhere to go. John, already in Montana where he is now working, went into high gear, trying to find something that would work for us. He found a fabulous piece of land, sixty acres of lush alfalfa pasture with over a half mile of Bitterroot River frontage, and he managed to get it for a price I could afford since the ridge was selling and the expenses there would no longer be a financial factor.
Well, as you can see it is beautiful land. But when I committed to buy it, I didn’t account for the possibility of Murphy’s Law, that what can go wrong will go wrong. Three days before closing, the buyer for Cinnamon Ridge backed out. John entered my office that night, where I was trying very hard not to think about moving stuff from Cinnamon Ridge while I finished MULBERRY MOON. He told me he had some bad news, and I could tell by the look on his face that it was really bad news. My first thought was that my dad in Arizona had passed away. It wasn’t that, thank God, but in a way it was nearly as devastating. He told me the buyer for the ridge had backed out. I saw dollar signs flash before my eyes. If the ridge wasn’t sold, how was I going to manage financially to buy the Montana land, which I’d already committed to do, and also build a residence?
John had already begun making hauls to Montana, unloading his stuff into eight storage units Julia found for me near Hamilton, which was perfect. She got them reserved for us. I have since given the storage company my credit card to keep me up to date on rent for the units, because with all the craziness in my life, I knew I’d forget to pay.
Closing date arrived for the farm on June 15th. I moved home to Cinnamon Ridge. Thank goodness I didn’t hire movers to gut the house and take everything to even more storage units in Montana. But it was a near miss. At least I have a beautiful place to live while all the puzzle pieces fall into place.
As my Facebook friends know, I haven’t been able to be at the ridge because so many sad memories haunt me. But on June 15th, I had no choice. I had to come home, where I see my beloved husband everywhere I look. This gorgeous house became his prison for the last several years of his life. He became wheelchair bound. It was so hard to watch him loose ground. He had pulmonary fibrosis, a dreadful fatal disease, that scars the interstitial lung tissue so badly that the lungs can no longer absorb oxygen. In short, he suffocated to death.
Faced with financial hardships I had not expected, I paid off the lease on my wonderful Audi Q7 and let it go back to the dealer. I had put only 17k miles on it in three years, so I did get a two thousand dollar check after the exchange, because the car was virtually almost new. Now comes the funny part. And some not so funny parts. I brought my special edition, Victory Red Hummer out of mothballs. The vehicle is gigantic and wide and high off the ground. First I had to get used to climbing up into it again. Then I had to learn to drive it again. It is very wide, so it’s hard to tell where you are in the traffic lane. It is a 2004, so it has no GPS. For me, this is a disaster. I can’t find my way out of a paper bag and never have been good with directions. I need GPS that talks to me and says in ladies’ speak, “Prepare to turn left.” I also had no car phone for the first time in years. I hate that. My grandson has me lined up to get a Garmin GPS and car phone installed into the Hummer dash.
But the Hummer’s little quirks became the least of my frustrations when it came time to move home to the ridge. My two old Aussies are a bit overweight, and I can no longer lift them. So after I had all the cats loaded in the back, seven of them which belong to both me and John, I had to figure out how to get my dogs inside. John was calling me. I can’t remember where he was, but he kept saying, “Don’t try to lift those dogs into the Hummer, Mom. You’ll hurt your back or shoulder.” Well, I knew that was true. I’ve had surgery on both, and my shoulder is particularly fragile. But I couldn’t stay the night as John suggested. For one, my bed was gone, and for another, all my medication was at Cinnamon Ridge. Plus, I’d worked for hours catching cats! I didn’t wish to turn all of them loose again.
My solution was to use a cooler as a platform for the dogs. I managed with a bit of pushing, shoving, and lifting to get my hefty dogs inside the vehicle. As I drove south to the ridge, I planned how to get the dogs out of the vehicle. It’s a long jump down for old dogs, and I didn’t want them to hurt themselves.
Well, I came up with a plan. When I reached the house, I pulled one side of the Hummer onto the lawn, thinking that Talili, (named after a Papa New Guinea warrior and pronounced Tuh-lily) could jump onto the soft ground without injury. Once I got him out, my plan was to open the rear door of the Hummer, put my arms around Buddy, who rode in the back, and help break his fall as he jumped.
Well, Talili didn’t give me a chance to get out and go around to the passenger door. The instant I got out, he shot past me, nearly knocking me down in the process, and hurt one leg when he landed on the pavers. When I went to the back to help Buddy out, he was just as excited to be home as his brother was, and the instant I began to lift the back hatch, he shot past me. He landed face first on the pavers, hurting himself pretty badly.
After the dogs recovered somewhat, I figured that they’d want to explore their beloved forest and relieve themselves after the long drive. Instead they stood at the front door, begging me with their eyes to let them go in. When I let them enter, they took off like peas from a sling shot toward Sid’s office. They just knew that I’d finally regained my senses and brought them home to see Dad. (Do they think I got angry with Sid and left him? Heaven only knows what goes through a dog’s mind after the death of a loved one.) When he wasn’t there, they searched every inch of the house for him. Buddy, who’d gotten on the bed with Sid to say his last goodbye, caught on more quickly than Talili. I think he remembered that Sid was gone. But Talili searched for Sid for three days. Every time I went out to the garage, Talili went with me and ran straight to Sid’s wheelchair.
I did not allow myself to cry. I knew if I started, I’d never stop.
I’m settled in now. I can’t find my checkbooks. I believe they are packed and may be in the shop. I don’t have the energy to go up there to look. I found more checks for the bank I use more and started a new check register. But otherwise, life is returning to normal, and I’m hard at work doing revisions of MULBERRY MOON, working in Sid’s office where I worked over the last year of his life.
In the foreground lies Talili, pressed against the footrest of Sid’s recliner. He has pretty much stopped doing this now. He has chosen, instead, to press against me. When I must leave to do errands, an expression of absolute terror resides on his face. He is so afraid that I will disappear, too.
So have I had a summer? Well, not really. It’s all a blur of writing, cleaning, packing, and then moving home.
Yesterday was the Fourth of July, a holiday that normally attracts a crowd of family and friends. I spent the day working. When it began to grow dark, I decided that I would not sit on the deck to watch the fireworks alone. The last time I watched them from the deck, Sid was with me and a crowd of relatives were there. How sad would it be to sit out there alone? Last night, my niece Gerry texted to say she was sorry she wasn’t here so she could hear me say, at least twenty times, “Okay, everyone, this has to be it, the grand finale!” It’s true. When I watch fireworks, toward the end, I do start saying that. The last burst of color in the sky is always the most beautiful. Right?
I hope all of you had a fabulous Fourth with family and friends. Next year, I will be with my son and grandson in Montana, living along the Bitterroot River. I’m looking forward to the Fourth next year and pretending yesterday was just another day.
Hugs to all,