A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Monday, May 11, 2015

Waiting For Signs

Nine years ago on our 25th anniversary, Rickie and I bought this Thompson's Yucca and planted it in the center section of the driveway. It was only about knee high when we bought it. We had paid $75 for it and were hoping it would make it. The main concern was that the deer would destroy it. They eat the heart out of the native yuccas we have and if we ever get any to bloom in the yard we have to cage them as soon as the blooms come out. But this one thrived. 

About 4 or 5 years ago it started blooming and has had a bloom stalk on it every year. By the time it first bloomed it was too tall for the deer to get to it. Three years ago we noticed the tiny beginning of another branch coming off it. This year, for the first time, it has two blooms, one on each of the "arms". I took these pictures this morning.

A quote from Craig Johnson's Longmire book series I love is "Stay calm, have courage, and wait for signs". I've had that posted on my fridge since the week of Rick's death. I take the two blooms as a sign, as I do the explosion of poppies, larkspurs, and Engelmann's daisies his garden has given me this year. 

Today would be 34 years that Rick and I were married. I found this in his writings; he wrote it a few months before he died. 

"Since Sue has retired from working in the school system and started living at the ranch, she has once again adapted to a situation different from what she was doing. She has become a local in a rural community. She has earned the respect of her neighbors. She has learned to deal with and understand 1500 pound beasts (Gus and Woodrow). She has immersed herself in the natural way of things at the ranch. She pays attention and notices the little things nature has to offer. These things she missed before but now she doesn't. She knows the names of the birds, plants, and animals. She notices the little nuances in the weather before it changes. She has dealt with her fear of darkness and spiders. She has satisfied her hunger to be a part time carpenter. It has been a joy watching her metamorphosis. Not many women or men could do this. 
It is wonderful to keep getting something new from someone when you have lived with them over a long period of time, in our case 33 years. Yes, there are a lot of things I know about Sue by now but she keeps giving me surprises."

I've thought a lot about whether my coming out here these last 4 years to live mostly by myself was the right decision. Whether, as things turned out, I should have stayed in Houston until Rick could retire and we could come out together. We talked about it a couple of times but both agreed it was to our benefit as a family that this place be considered our home and that me being here to keep things going, the garden, the longhorns, just all the things that need someone around to keep a place in shape, was the best option. 

But my own main reason for coming, and Rick knew this, was I worried that if I waited for him, it was always possible that I could die before he retired and never get to live out here and live the life I do. As a fan of Thoreau since childhood I, like him, wanted to see if I could go to the woods and learn what it had to teach, "and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." My mother had just passed away after a tough fight with Alzheimer's and it was on my mind that realistically, at my age, I had only so many productive years left. 

So, as Charlie Robison says, I packed my bags a little heavy that time and headed home to the 54 acres, the cabin, the longhorns, the garden, and the wildlife. And the longer I stayed the less I ever wanted to return to the city. When we scattered Rick's ashes back on the ridge I told family and friends that we had struggled and sacrificed to keep this place all these 27 years; that sometimes we thought we should have just waited until we retired and then bought a place. But I feel that the place a person calls home and spends time and loves defines that person. And this place defined Rick and it defines me. It allowed Rick to stay the country boy he always was while working in the city and it made a country girl out of me. I have become a different person living here and I like this person better than any other person I have been. 

And I'm thankful for the words Rick left me, his affirmation that the decision was right. I doubt I would be here now if I hadn't spent these last 4 years here. I don't know if I would have the courage to remake myself all on my own. I find comfort here that I could never find in the city and the life I lived before I came here; I would be floundering there. 

The second year we had our place we brought the deer camp style travel trailer out. I never told anyone, not even Rick, but when that happened, I said to myself "that's good because if I ever lose anyone I love I'm gonna need to come out here to stay, away from the noise and craziness of the city, close to nature, if I have any hope of surviving such a thing.

I was here when I got the call that my dad had a heart attack and died. I was here when my brother David, and Justin's mom Miriam both ended their battles with cancer the same week. It was here I came when my sister Deb slipped away and when my mom found peace at last. It was here I sat on the back porch floor and held Rickie's hand as we waited together for the coroner to come. 

And it's here I wake each morning and try to honor him and those I love by staying calm, having courage, and waiting for signs, though it's not always easy.

Happy anniversary, Rickie. I miss you.