I Miss Those Years

I miss the years when my son was very attached to me.

“Mommy, can you sew a button on my P.E. uniform?” “Ma, I sat on my homework and it’s wrinkled, can you iron it?” “Mom, I signed you up to bring cookies on Thursday, OK?” These are the sounds that filled my home for over twenty  years. There were so  many things to do while I was going in so many different directions. They were frantic days, but they were filled with love and a sense of purpose. I miss those years.

My son was an active child, always testing the limits. He crashed toy trucks into walls, colored outside the lines and was “all boy.” Sometimes, when my 8 month old puppy starts running around in circles, I call him my son’s name by mistake. He reminds me of that playful boy who was full of the dickens. Without thinking, I repeat the phrase I used too often with my son: “What is your problem?!!”  But to no avail.

I miss having my son and daughter in bed with me

My boy had a deep, sensitive side as well. I sang to him at night and read Dr. Seuss until I knew those books by heart. When he couldn’t sleep and wanted to be near me, he’d sneak into my room and crawl under the bed. Dr. Spock had told us that co-sleeping was bad, and my son knew he’d be sent back to his room if he was caught. I wish I had followed my instincts and let him curl up in my arms and stay there all night.

My daughter’s self confidence. Although she got glasses at 15 months old and had bushy, Jewish hair, she thought she was the cutest thing in town. She was a leader, with a trail of blonde haired, blue eyed girls following her every move.

My ever confident daughter, who looked to me for advice

When she decided to run for 6th grade president, we practiced her speech night after night. She walked confidently onto the stage, looking like a 10 year old Ruth Bader Ginsberg. I mouthed every word with her as she gave her speech, and when she won I said, “Today 6th grade, tomorrow the world!” We laughed for days over that line.

When she was in 7th grade we moved to Palos Verdes, and she was teased for the first time in her life. Some girls made fun of her glasses and she came home that day in tears.  I immediately made an appointment for her to get contact lenses. I urged her to leave the “mean girls” and find a nicer group of kids. She was smart enough to find her way through a difficult transition.

How I loved being at the center of my children’s lives, being the one they came to for comfort and approval. I remember watching my son play little league and praying for a “ball” so he’d at least get on base.  And what fun we had with my daughter’s costume fittings for ballet recitals, and bringing her roses backstage. It was such joy watching my children’s faces light up when I came home early from work. I was loved, I was needed, I was their mommy.

My beautiful grown children, independent and on their own

My house is quiet now. My husband died almost 3 years ago http://www.sydellweiner.com/surviving-complicated-grief and my children are out on their own. So I hold on tight to the memories.

My son is 40 and my daughter is 38. They have successful careers and children of their own. They have spouses who come first, as well they should. I know they love me, but the dynamics have changed. Instead of playing a leading role, I am now one of the supporting players.

I’ve retired from my career as a college professor and age is catching up with me. There are days when the loneliness overwhelms me. I’m up at 6am and sit on the couch until 10, waiting for a reason to get dressed and get out. There is nobody there to ask how I slept, or keep me company while I make coffee and watch the news. Day after day the monotony continues, as I search for a new direction.

When I try to be grateful for all the good in my life, and it actually makes me feel better. There are so many ways to reach out to others in similar situations.  I am discovering a new freedom and enjoy getting involved in more social activities. Writing is a new form of creative expression for me, and it’s helping me find a new purpose.

Yes, I miss those years, but how fortunate I am to have had them. How fortunate to see my children thrive as adults and to know that I had a big part in it. The future is not just theirs, it’s mine too if I just reach out and grab it.

It’s time to move forward…past time.  I’m a little scared, but I’m also excited. I will welcome the next chapter in my life with the courage and hope. Watch out, I’m back in the world of the living! 

Sydell Weiner, I Miss Those Years

November 8, 2018

Moving Forward by Moving to L.A.

moving forward as a widow by moving to the westside

I’m trying to move forward after losing my husband, by moving   near my son and daughter-in-law.  They welcomed a 5th child into their family a week ago and she’s a beauty. Yesterday they all came over, along with my daughter and her family. The kids had a ball playing together in the pool, and we ordered in lunch. I’m so glad that I can see them more often than when I lived an hour and a half away.

But my house in Palos Verdes is on the market and still hasn’t sold. Last week it fell out of Escrow for the 2nd time. It is my nest egg, my safe zone, the keeper of memories that I shared with my husband Rex. And now strangers are traipsing through and picking it apart. I’m counting on the equity to pay the expenses of the overpriced house I’m renting in Beverly Hills. So now I’m scared. Will I have enough until my house sells? Will I be enough to handle this? Am I strong enough to make it on my own?

The house I’m renting is sweet, but it’s unfamiliar. I don’t know how to turn on the confection oven. The glass doors in the shower have sediment on them that won’t come off. I’m sure they’re more than 20 years old, and if I owned this house I’d have them replaced. I turned on the heater in the pool Saturday, and now I can’t figure out how to turn them off.

The landlord ordered a new dishwasher, and when it came 2 weeks ago it was the wrong size. I’ve been waiting almost 2 weeks for the replacement, but all I have is a big empty hole in my kitchen where the dishwasher belongs. It’s the hole in my heart that burst open when Rex died, and now it feels just a little more broken. I’m used to doing everything by myself, but now I have to wait for the homeowner (in DC) to talk to his mother (3 blocks away) and the right hand doesn’t seem to know what the left hand is doing.

My handyman from P.V. came here 2 days after I moved in. The HVAC system wasn’t turning on. It’s taken 2 weeks and now I’m promised a new motor this afternoon. But it’s cold at night, and I’m powerless to take care of it on my own. It costs over a thousand dollars to fix, and that’s not my responsibility. I feel helpless, like my 14 year old self, still in a daze at my mother’s funeral. I try to be brave, but sometimes it’s just too much to bear.

Oh, and did I tell you my iphone died last week? I had to drive to City Hall in P.V. to get a copy of a permit for the buyers who subsequently backed out. So I went to the Apple Store in Manhattan Beach without an appointment and was aggravated by the long wait. Maybe it’s because Mercury was in retrograde for 3 weeks, but it’s one frustration right after another. Normally I could handle a broken phone, but my resiliency is at an all-time low and everything feels like a crisis.

And here’s the reason why: My husband died two and a half years ago and I never would have moved if he were still alive. http://www.sydellweiner.com/surviving-complicated-grief We’d enjoy a comfortable retirement in the house where I knew how everything worked. I wouldn’t have to read an outrageous Inspection Report, picking at every detail in our home–from missing spokes in the dishwasher to electrical issues to doorstops needed to protect the walls.

My sister tells me not to take it personally when someone doesn’t want to buy my house. I wish it were that easy. My emotions are too unstable. When I think someone loves the house we remodeled and lived in for 17 years and then they back out, it breaks my heart. My husband and I took so much pride in that house and made it look so beautiful.

Still, the criticism hurts; it feels like I didn’t do a good enough job of keeping things up. My fears turn into anxiety and I’m up half the night wondering if I did the right thing moving. I suspect buyers are being critical as a ploy to get a lower price. Or an Inspector is finding fault so he can show the buyers how smart and thorough he is. Whatever their reasons, it shakes my confidence and robs me of my resiliency.

Lately I’ve been calling it “Widow Shit.” Losing your husband is so much more than grieving for the person you’ve lost. It’s figuring out how to spend your remaining years. Should I move away from a community I love, because there’s nothing there for older, single women.? Will I be able to handle being a renter after 40 years of homeownership. Can I  navigate my way around a new community with steep underground parking even for supermarkets. What a cool adventure it would have been exploring a new community with Rex. We’d laugh at the underground garages and explore all the cafes together. I miss him beyond words, and moving brings that back to the forefront.

And yet, there are indescribable perks. Moving closer to my son means surprise visits at 6:15 am, while he’s doing his morning run. Thes’s comfort in being a mile and a half from five of my grandchildren. It’s my sweet daughter coming over with new beach towels and a tool kit fit for a woman my age. And having my son’s daughter telling my daughter that it’s her turn to live near grandma. It was lovely to have a spur of the moment pool parties in my backyard with the children (and adults) playing nicely together. And it’s reassuring to know that if I have to go to the hospital, it would be the one where my son is Manager of Spiritual Care, and I’d have excellent care.

So I have to put on my big girl pants and figure out how everything works on my own. I’ve figured out the pool heater and called a repairman to show me how to work the confection oven. I’ve unpacked in less than 2 weeks and have even hung pictures on the walls. I hired a plumber to install the new toilet that was left for me in the garage. I’ve connected with an old friend and colleague who I didn’t even know lived in this part of town. And my puppy and I are moving forward, enjoying the walks to the shops, right in our neighborhood.

When I remind myself of the good, it’s easier to practice gratitude. Breathe deep, Sydell, and look to the light. Be patient with yourself, for you are the only person you can always depend on. Remember to treat yourself as you would treat someone you loved–with kindness and empathy. You will get through this, your house will eventually sell, and you’ll enjoy more of the perks of living on the Westside.

So yes, it was the worst of times, it was the best of times. I’ve moved to the Westside and for better or worse, I’m moving on with my life. Wish me luck my friends, I will definitely need it!

Sydell Weiner