Retired. I am. Fini. For now. Work-for-pay, that is. It hasn’t set-in—-yet—-the retirement phase. It’s been crazy, family-busy. But right now I have a precious moment to reflect, take stock, and allow the wave of “This Moment” settle-in like a pair of well-worn slippers.
My brother. The 6′ 2″ guy. Former cop. Former Naval officer. Former apple of my British parents’ eyes. Smart. Possessed abundant possibilities. Moved away. Had a family. Has grandchildren. A beautiful home in Oregon. His wonderful children, all big-hearted and magnificent. His legacy. Our family’s legacy. So much to be proud of.
We just spent five days together with the big, extended family tribe. Dinners around the campfire every night. Bottles of vino. Boisset https://my.boissetcollection.com/janet.barker/products/catalog/sale-1005, of course. Every night a new international cuisine. And now, as of 9 a.m. this morning, he and his wife are gone, traveling along the brutally hot spine of California on his way to his lush green neck of the woods. We haven’t visited for years. Barely speak on the phone. His life. My life. A legacy of distance.
He has always been my big, scary brother, the guy who would tell me what’s right and wrong, aware that no matter the issue—he insists he’s always right. Few conversations. Mostly always one way. Conservative. Me, more liberal. Like our nation. One takes out a knife and cuts it into the heart. The other leaves in tears, emotionally mutilated. He’s in his 70s, I’m in my 60s. Over the years, I suppose, we passively the accepted the discomfort. It was OK not to be close.
But this trip, something changed.
Perhaps we have finally become grown-ups, too tired for discord. Both of us arrived at a place in life where we’ve learned to focus on the honey, not the lemon. Time is precious. No time left to do anything but love, and forgive.
The unfurling caterpillar. That’s us. Once cocooned in our own corners of righteousness, but now in tears–hugging real hugs— and excited about the next time we can see each other.
Maybe all this time he has been my best friend but I was so full of myself and my own pain I failed to see it. It’s funny this thing called life. Out of the blue, while opening up containers of take-out Indian food that you bought instead of your son (the guy who was supposed to pick up the tab), a new door opens that you NEVER expected would open. Voila! A lesson. A new possibility.
Did I say I was excited about retirement, which I guess I have been since June 11, 2021? I haven’t exactly been, at least not in the way I thought I’d feel. I’ve been shutting down my former life as a middle school teacher,. grannying to Baby Millie, busy preparing food, cleaning, and jumbling myself with all the tasks, with all the impossible fixing-others responsibilities, that I failed to notice the Monarchs’ regular appearance in my once-again, weed-filled garden. My floating orange reminder to pay attention to the the most important of all miracles: Sincere, loving and healthy relationships.
Not to go all Mary Poppins here: the pain was/is real. I still have some seriously rotten stuff going on. But I also have a renewed sense of hope, positive possibilities and a second chance.
Gotta promise myself not to miss the moment. Can’t miss the warmth, (and often times annoying) fury pup at-present sitting next to me, or the grandkids’ splayed plastic toys littering the garden, or the baby saliva staining my BeachLife sweatshirt or the dishes in my sink or the weeds in the garden that I’ll get to at some point, and the writing I’m doing: The chronically of the day-to-day as. a reminder that life IZ good, that life is most certainly sweet amidst the drama.
On cue, sirens blare down Pacific Coast Highway as the afternoon breeze rustles the gazebo curtains. Soon it will be too hot to watch movies indoors and we’ll move outside and sit here, close around the fire pit, swapping different versions of this kinda holy moly week of gratitude and forgiveness, the days my brother returned home and no one, not a one of us, brought up politics and past hurts. We all, as Rodney King implored, just got along.