Saying good-bye to an old friend

Right up until the second I became a mother-in-law last fall, I considered myself a non-weeper. Since that sunny Colorado I-Do moment, I've turned into a sentimental old lady. Beyond turning into my mother, I've turned into my grandma.

I see Halma clearly, standing on her little kitchen porch beside the white lattice covered in orange trumpet vine flowers. Although backed by the vivid blue summer sky, Grandma is in Kodak black and white. My memories come through my Brownie Starmite view-finder. Halma is crying and waving while wiping her tears with her apron as we pull out of her yard in our pea green '54 Chevy. I wonder how my dad stayed dry-eyed at those departures.

Just guessing we stay casual until the realization creeps in that this could be the final leave-taking. Or maybe not this one, or the next one, but middle age proves there will one day be a last.

This week I got misty just spying a trumpet vine blooming on a fence. Last week I cried half-way to York after leaving my father. He can't wave from the front step anymore, and each leave-taking is closer to the last.

Today my sons and I say our good-byes to Wally, our old family friend. This reptilian character of paper and cloth over a coat hanger framework has been part of our home and family for thirteen years, hanging above the condo stairway ever since he crawled out of the storm sewer.

Wally attended many Lunch Bunch gatherings. He made special appearances at the library and schools. Wally even attended a summer camp, earning an honorarium for his guest appearance.

Wally suffered along with my youngest son through my early opera fascination, listening to "Carmen" and "Don Giovanni" until he considered biting the leg of his creator. Wally wore Santa hats and clutched roses in his teeth. He lost several teeth over the years.

Nothing made Wally as happy as shocking a repairman arriving [finally!] to fix the a/c or disposal. The later the arrival, the scarier face Wally wore.

We knew the truth. Wally had a heart of gold. Unfortunately, he accumulated a body full of spiders and spider eggs. My sons each granted permission for Wally to leave, heading toward the dumpster. I'm teary while taking a last few photos of our friend crawling out the door.

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder

1 comment:

Genevieve said...

I'm getting a little more weepy all the time. A few weeks ago, we were headed to my nephew's wedding in my car, and my daughter was playing some samples of music that she might want at her wedding this fall.

When she played a possible recessional that Taurus had suggested -- "You Are My Sunshine" -- I thought I was going to have to pull to the side of the road so I could cry for a while. I can remember my dad singing that song when I was a little girl.

At these family milestones, the older folks notice changes and remember losses even while they celebrate the futures of the young folks. How could you not?! I think it's normal to feel a lot of emotion with these life events. Women cry, and men wish they had stayed home because they feel like crying too, but they don't think they should. Or at least, that's my analysis. I might not be right, but my opinion's worth everything you paid for it. ;)


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