|My Poppa playing for my daughter long ago|
I should be doing laundry and packing for tomorrow’s early flight to Michigan. At least I should be planning what to launder and pack.
My Michigan family says that spring has sprung. I hear it in their voices.
So I picture spring as I remember it: tender baby leaves, spongy fragrant earth, soft fuzzy buds, daffodils, forsythia, lilac, the sweet smell of newness and hope...) Sneakers, light jackets and T-shirts.
But a check of the forecast says that my Michigan family is delirious. Their beastly winter has left them untrustworthy in their relief, unreliable.
Or, it might be my recollection of spring that’s faulty. Maybe spring has always had frozen strands of winter woven through it. Maybe those last wintery bits are essential for making the springy parts even sweeter. So, sweaters still? Scarves and gloves?
But I’m not packing yet: I’m bracing.
A trip home is no longer an easy thing. My father will still be dead when I get there. In fact, he’ll be considerably more dead there than he is here, especially when he won’t wrestle up from his chair to greet me at the door.
And my mom will not have recovered from the cruel process of aging. She used to say it was like a sinking ship, one thing after another goes overboard. Short term memory, names, hearing...
She doesn’t say that anymore.
But the things I need to brace for are the things I can’t brace for, the things I don’t see coming, until they’ve mowed me flat. Like a couple weeks ago when I blithely attended a classical music concert.
You’d think I would have suspected that my first time hearing an orchestra tune up on a darkened stage would be tough. After a life-time of my dad's concerts, it seems stunningly stupid of me not to have anticipated the pain.
But there it is. The things we see coming, and the things we don’t. How do you pack for such a trip?