There’s something about mowing that’s soothing.   Now I’m not talking about pushing a lawn mower, but sitting on a rider and going around and back and forth.  My mind can just wander over memories, think over conversations, reflect, and generally just muse.

Today was beautiful with the wind blowing just enough to enjoy the warm weather and then later the clouds rolled in a dark blue with promise of rain to come.  Last weekend’s rain really greened up the yard and tiny plants are sprouting up.  The rain starved crepe myrtle didn’t bloom in July or August, but the pink tips are a treat in the September scenery.  I even have a few Tiger lilies blooming!

As I cut grass, I thought back on a conversation I had Friday evening.  I had the opportunity to talk to a couple I hadn’t heard from in over twenty years.  He was a groomsmen in our wedding and we’d go out on double dates in the years before Cam was born.  After Cam was born, they moved and we’d lost contact.  It was a Facebook connect and Joyce messaged that they missed John and me.  It was the first time that I had to tell someone that John died in a very long time.  Of course, it resulted in a phone call.  I was able to tell them what had happened and I did it without crying.  It’s different telling someone that didn’t know us as a couple and telling a person that did know us personally.  There’s a connection that makes saying it harder.  I was so proud of myself for not breaking down.  I had a lump in my throat, but I said the words and I didn’t cry.  Another sign of healing.  Thank you, Lord.

Five hours of mowing the lawn is a long time for musing.  I thought of John’s family.  We are having a birthday get together tomorrow over Philips birthday since he’s down for a visit.  Thinking of that, memories drifted in.  I loved that family, but the family I was closest to are all gone.

Vicki with her sweet smile and love of cooking.  She was the one who loved to plan family events.  Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays with her around.  She’d plan the menu and we loved to tease one another.  I’ll never have another sister-in-law like her.  I think with her passing, my love of Thanksgiving went with her.

I really dread the start of Thanksgiving through New Years Day.  I know many people enjoy the holidays, but to me they are just a painful reminder of holidays past.  With John dying December 23, I have to make myself get through the Christmas season without falling into an emotional hole.  I have come so far and hopefully it will get better as the years progress.

After Vicki died, John’s dad, Pierce, suffered, but after John died, I could see life was a struggle for him.  His health diminished.  I loved that man.  I enjoyed talking to him on the back porch, which is where we always wound up drinking a Dr. Pepper.  He knew something about everything and he had a beautiful, giving personality.  It didn’t matter if it was money or time, he was there for us.  He supported us.  I don’t know how John and I would have been able to complete our education if he hadn’t helped with bills and groceries.  He’d ask if I needed to make a grocery store run and then he’d hand me a blank check and never bat an eye when I told him how much I spent.

Of course, it could have to do with his grandson.  He thought Cameron hung the moon.  Cam thought the same thing of his Papa.  I miss his gentleness and I miss our talks.  He treated me as a daughter, never just a daughter-in-law.  Anne and Pierce were married over fifty years and they obviously showed their children what a good marriage was.  John did many of the same things that Pierce did.  Cleaned the kitchen, helped with laundry and other things that a wife is appreciate of.  I’m forever grateful that Cameron has witnessed the same type of marriage.  When Dad was almost gone, I kissed his forehead and told him to tell John that I loved him.  He passed away that evening.

John’s mom, Anne, was a strong woman.  I never knew how strong until she lost both Vicki and John and then Dad.  She always had a heart for people in need.  I remember being with her once in the hospital when Dad had his aneurysm and a lady was sitting in the same waiting room that we were in.  Mom heard something she said about being in need and she opened her purse and pulled out some money and handed it to a perfect stranger.  Even when she had her mind full of dad, she thought of others.

She and Vicki were so much alike and yet neither would admit it.  Both were stubborn and they would get mad at each other for the silliest of things.  Thankfully, Dad would be there to smooth the way for each of them.  Mom smoked for decades and then one day, she just put the cigarettes down and never smoked another one.   I appreciated her love for her children.  I loved to go over there and visit with her after John died.  We’d talk about different things and about John.  Mom helped keep the memories of John and Vicki alive.

After Dad died, I’d go over and visit with her every other Sunday after church and one day, she didn’t answer the door.  I called Mike and we found her in her room.  Death had come again.  It was just a little over a year after Dad died.  I am happy that mom didn’t have to be alone for too long.  She lived to take care of Pierce and after he died, her life was so empty.  I know there was a wonderful reunion in heaven with Vicki, John, Dad, and Mom.

That makes me smile.

Now, my family is much reduced.  I hold tight to Vicki’s daughter, Jessica, because she needs me and I loved her mom so much and I transferred that love to her.  Sometimes, I feel like Cameron, Jess, and myself are all that’s left of that safe harbor of a family.  The family seems so very segmented.

I know we have Mike, Lynne, Philip, and Kevin, but yet they are still a whole family unit without the breaks that shattered ours.  Yes, they lost loved one, but we lost one of the immediate family that held us together.  Until that happens to you, I don’t think you can understand.  It’s like losing arms and legs, but the heart keeps beating.  The ability to move is severely hampered.

Yes, the lawn mower gives the mind time to muse.  Rain gives the grass greenness and makes plants bloom out of season.  Time gives the heart the ability to heal.  Words can build or restore relationships and love can build bridges to reconnect love ones.  Thank you Lord, for the opportunities to love, heal, and build relationships.  I pray that the love that held me to that family continues to bind me to the ones that are still with me.