Ever since we moved into our house six years ago we have been friendly with our across the street neighbor, Mrs. Potter. Mrs. Potter is a widow (her Elwood died in 1987) and her only daughter is physically disabled and had to be put in a nursing home round about the time we moved in. Mrs. Potter couldn’t take care of her at home anymore. Her daughter never married and doesn’t have her own family. Mrs. Potter turned 90 this past May and has watched most of her own family and friends pass away as she’s gotten older. Despite her age she was always busy. She drove to visit her daughter twice a week and was always running errands. We’d see her backing out of her driveway and cruise down the street at a brisk 8 mph. I always felt for her and we’ve tried to include her in our lives and in our family. I would always invite her to our family events at home and every Halloween her house was always our first official stop. I would call her if I didn’t see her for a while and try to stop in for a visit (though I hadn’t done that in a long time). I felt that she could be me years on down the road. She was lonely for her daughter and for her husband – whom she hadn’t seen in 20 years! The last couple of years were hard for her as she got older and older she started worrying about her daughter more and more. She wanted to be sure that she would be taken care of if anything happened to her.
Anyhoo, we noticed that she wasn’t around recently and I started to get worried. I called the local police and they said that she had gone into the hospital. I tried calling all the local hospitals but none of them had her listed as a patient. I finally found a name of one of her friends and found out that she had had a stroke and was in the same nursing home as her daughter. I’m glad that they are together now but apparently Mrs. Potter has lost some of her faculties. Her friend said that she doesn’t always recognize her when they visit. We have to go and visit her too. She’ll probably never come home again. I guess that it is just the cycle of life but I’m sad for her. I wish her peace.
Speaking of Mom’s. My friend Karen’s Mom passed away suddenly on Wednesday. She was 61 years old and had only retired one month ago. She had a stroke on Tuesday and overnight into Wednesday just deteriorated completely and died. Needless to say Karen is in total shock. She called me on Wednesday morning and told me and I just can’t stop thinking about it. Today is the wake and tomorrow is the funeral. I called her yesterday to check on her and she said that she was holding it together a little better. She and her Father had gone to their family’s church for a service and it helped her to feel more peaceful about everything. Her son is my daughter’s age and he asked her why all these family members and friends were visiting them. She didn’t want to say that it was because “Grandma died”, cause that sounded too sad. She told him that they were coming to celebrate Grandma’s life. He said, that since it was a celebration they definitely needed some decorations and proceeded to go about making them.
Six years ago today my husband and I moved out of Brooklyn. The next day we commuted into NYC from upstate. We took the train to Hoboken, NJ and got on different PATH trains. His train took him to midtown and mine took me downtown to the World Trade Center. It was Tuesday September 11, 2001. Ever since then I’ve always sorted my life into before that day and after that day. I wouldn’t say that September 10, 2001 was my last happy day but I certainly was carefree in a way that I feel I could never be now. Something happened inside of me as I was running for my life after the first plane hit the building practically over my head. One moment I’m window shopping at Century21 and the next moment I’m running into traffic on Broadway and feeling the sidewalk undulating under my feet. I truly thought that I was about to die right there. I thought that bombs were dropping on Manhattan and they practically were. I didn’t know if I’d see my husband again. We married only 6 months earlier. It had taken me almost 35 years to find him and now I felt like I was losing everything.
Now, whenever I look at old pictures I find myself organizing them into a before group or an after group. A couple of months ago, while contemplating my next career move, I thought about giving the ol’ acting thing a try. I pulled out my newest headshot. It was taken in the spring of 2001. My husband looked at me like I was crazy when I told him that I wanted to use it now. “You don’t look like that anymore”, he said. I wanted to disagree with him but when I took a real look at it I had to give in. It’s not that I look so much older now (though lately, I don’t know) it’s that the headshot is definitely a before picture. That version of me had a lot of anxieties – especially that day, the day of the photo shoot I think I had some of the worst stomach cramps that I have ever had – and had certainly had her share of depression and worries but she could hide it a lot better than I can now. That version of me also had never had a child and all the experience and grey hairs (and love and joy and worries) that go along with that.
All in all, I feel like I’m feeling stronger leading up to this September 11th anniversary than I have in all the five years before. Maybe it is the effect of time, gently fuzzing everything. I think almost losing my husband in a car accident and then everything I had to deal with following that this past February has helped me to feel more able to rely on myself and be more self sufficient. I’m still not sure how I’ll be feeling tomorrow. I really don’t want my husband in the city but he’s very busy at work this week and cannot miss the day. It’s not that I think that anything bad will happen (but nowadays you never know) I just want to have the people I most love close by. I wish you all the very best tomorrow. Hug and kiss your loved ones. Hold them close and be thankful.