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One Writer's World

Building and Rebuilding


 A year ago a friend told me this was going to be a year of change and growth. She was definitely right about the first, and I expect when the dust settles, she'll have been right about the second. I think of this year as one of building.
In June my husband died after six months on hospice, and a couple of years almost there, after several years of recovering his health so he could walk five miles a day. He was known throughout the neighborhood as the man with the dogs with the same name. Rob 1, Rob 2, Rob 3, and Rob 4, the current occupant of our home.
When I was a child, we had a dog named Chebacco Rob Roy, a purebred lab, who lived a long and charmed life until the end. He came to us before leash laws, never knew what a leash was unless he was going to the vet's, and wandered the neighborhood without any complaints from anyone. Those dogs and their lives don't exist anymore. In my mother's later years, she was given a shelter dog named Rob, and when she died we took him to live with us. So began the numbering.
When Michael died, I had already been walking the dog solo for almost a year and a half, and didn't think anyone would comment one way or the other. But people did. They asked if something had happened to Mike (everyone called him Mike except me and the rest of his family)? Was this Rob 4? Yes and yes. People driving by stop, runners call out and wave, dog walkers stop to tell me our dogs are friends. To my ongoing surprise and delight, I am discovering my husband had another world of neighbors I knew little about. I am now the lady with the dog.
This is all part of rebuilding my life as a widow, a woman without a partner, but a woman with a dog. All of us have to do this at one time or another in our lives. If we lose a job we love because of downsizing, merging, or another reason, we are no longer who we thought we were, and we begin the task of finding a new job, a new way of viewing our work. A parent becomes ill and we are the child who lives closest, and all of a sudden we are the organizer of caregiving. And then the parent dies and we are all of a sudden the oldest of the siblings. We adjust. We take on new roles.
On my walk today I met the mason building the stonewall pictured above.  The two-family apartment building is being upgraded into two condos. He gave me a tour of the neighborhood through a history of the stone work he had done—and he's done a lot. I recognized all the sites, but had never seen him at work at them. He's a craftsman leaving behind a legacy of fine work as he looks to the next job.
That's the way to look at the changes in our lives, at least how I try to look at the changes in mine. I've done my best in the challenges life presented to me, and now I'm building a new life that will bring new challenges and, I hope, new successes. I hope all of you reading this will feel the same optimism and hope as you face the challenges unique to you.

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A few weeks ago I tried to get into my late husband's laptop. I thought I was thinking ahead to tax season and it would be a good idea to see what might be in there that I'd need. Instead of taking a leap forward, I took a huge one backwards. Somehow I managed to lock the laptop. This has led to various complications and now I find myself changing my email, scanning old files, and wondering when I'll get back to my current writing project.


Almost exactly a year ago I began this story about a social worker whose traumatic event of her teen years comes back to haunt her and the community. The story flowed from a photograph I saw once, back in the 1970s or possibly earlier, of a number of organized crime figures leaving a motel early in the morning, possibly after a meeting or perhaps just a friendly all-night poker game. (Do they even have those?) The image lingered, the story developed, and I began writing.


Caring for my husband on hospice took over my life, and though I finished the ms, it wasn't really finished. My agent kindly read it and made numerous suggestions, and now it sits in front of me. This is what I expected to be doing this fall, but with the problems with my late husband's computer and the overflow into mine, I'm wondering when I'll ever get to it. Fortunately, the story has remained warm, and even has grown while I've been coping with other things.


So this fall, as the leaves turn gold and red, I'll clear my desk of the pesky details of real life and sink into a world of danger and death, which is preferable to lost emails, locked laptops, and the upcoming tax season.

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