Thank you as always for following my thoughts, it is truly appreciated. The following piece is for a writing contest and I thought you might enjoy it. The prompt was, ‘When a man takes lunch to his wife’s office, he’s told that she hasn’t worked there in weeks.’
Comments are most welcome!
September 26, 2016
I Don’t Know, She Don’t Say
Carlsbad, New Mexico isn’t a very big town, but it’s not small either with a population of over 26,000. Like so many towns in New Mexico it relies on the farming, oil and mining industries for its survival. So do its residents and I have been employed in the nearby Potash mines for years. The miners work twelve hour shifts so I only see my wife in passing on work days. She worked at a nearby Nursing Home, as she had for years.
We spent last weekend in Hondo at our sons ranch as we both had three days off. After we arrived, Linda, my wife, and our daughter in law Joan decided to can some peas while my son and I went to harvest some okra. John asked me how Linda was doing at the nursing home, as she has struggled often over the passing of her wards. Because of this we don’t often speak of her work otherwise. I replied, “I don’t know, she don’t say.” Our conversation shifted and we got distracted and went on to other things.
On Tuesday I arrived at work to find there was a generator failure and the mine was closed for the day. I was somewhat at a loss for what to do as it was too hot at midday to work in the garden. My mind drifted to years past when I worked at the stock yards. Linda was still watching our children grow and she would fix me a nice lunch and bring it to me at noon. I decided to surprise her and do the same.
I fixed a picnic lunch and drove to the nursing home a little before twelve. I looked for her car and couldn’t find it so I went inside. The receptionist greeted me warmly and asked me how Linda was doing. I looked at her, puzzled, wondering if she had confused me with someone else. I replied after a moment, “She’s just fine. Isn’t she here?”
It was the receptionists turn to be confused. After a moment of silence she informed me gently that it had been several weeks since my wife had submitted her resignation and left her job. She didn’t offer any further information and I didn’t ask. I smiled to cover my surprise and wished her a good day, not knowing what else to say and having no excuse for being so poorly informed. I walked slowly back to my truck, wondering first what I was going to do with our lunch, and then what I would do with the rest of my day. There was no flicker of worry or concern as to where my wife was, though I was certainly curious. I went down to the river to eat our meal and then headed home.
Linda came home at her usual time though I noticed it was a little earlier than usual. The day had cooled after lunch and I spent most of it in the garden before fixing a nice supper, something I rarely do. I had set the table with fresh flowers and when she arrived I handed her a glass of cold tea with some fresh mint leaves stuck in the ice. She raised her eyebrows in surprise and kissed me gently on the lips, her appreciation clear with no need for words. She sat out on the porch while I made the final preparations for dinner and when the table was set I called her in. I held her chair for her to sit and then took my own, reaching for her hand before we said grace. We then raised our eyes to each other’s and I saw again her appreciation and the twinkle of love we have always shared.
We had a glass of wine after dinner, sitting on the porch to enjoy the cool breeze. She commented on dinner and I accepted her thanks. Watching her eyes I asked her, “How has work been?” She smiled and replied, “I found a new job a few weeks ago at the greenhouse by the river and I like it very well.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I queried
“You never asked,” was her reply.
September 7, 2016
Bent, New Mexico
Lest I Forget
Here is a thought that survived a busy day when I would have captured it on the page at dawn. I sometimes forget myself, more now than I used to which is a little frightening, but fortunately I remember also. It seems that for the past couple of weeks I have forgotten so much that I know; the joy and the happiness which has always defined my life, the wonder I have in all things beautiful and alive, and the very breath of my spirit seems to have languished. I still write in these times but not to the depth and the breadth I would choose or aspire to and nothing I would wish to share. Instead I find a sense of despair which at the time seems inescapable, until I remember.
Yesterday was such a day, when I could barely put one foot in front of another and it seemed that everything took more effort that I could muster. I watched the clouds circle and the torrents of rain fall but it seemed nothing could rouse me and yet, and the end of the day, I found some semblance of what was missing. Driving home I saw the ditches had flooded and broke and as my neighbors were gone I stopped to repair them as best I could, as the water was still running high. I fixed them well enough but got my feet wet in the process. Catlike, I bemoaned the dampness, but reminded myself I should be thankful for the rain. I live in the near desert and I should be grateful for the moisture, even if it flooded my encampment as well. What is a little mud when the grass will grow another inch by tomorrow? My wet feet were a small price to pay and my house was still warm and dry, a blessing in itself when I look back on harder times.
It rained through the night, some far off hurricane making its way this far inland, soaking the parched earth and giving the flora the final boost it needs before winter. The deer and the elk will be better fed because of it and the springs and streams run strong. The mountains are glowing in their joy for the floods and the cactus are swollen with their stores and even the pack rats will flourish through the cold this year. I too will be well, I cut wood just two days ago and at least part of it is already safe and dry in my wood box. No wonder I felt pressed to put it up and I wish I had thought to cover the rest, but it will dry. I live in the desert!
I woke well rested and refreshed this morning, if still not fully myself. I should be content but I am still unsettled and my thoughts drifted to he who I still love but do not like very well. I am so grateful to be alone but still healing and there is a void in my life which needs to be refilled with all the things that once filled it. Six years ago, while wandering the wilderness for weeks at a time and I found the ‘Big Love’ I had always sought. I embraced the sun and the sky and knew it for all it was and it gave me all the joy I required in my chosen solitude. I carried it with me when I returned to the necessity of day to day life and when the adventure ended, I was well. Before I embarked on this more recent adventure, I hesitated, and it took him years to wear me down, though I allowed it also. I found solace in many things but never enough and the healing will take time, but it is progressing. Ahh, maybe that is where the pain is coming for, deep wounds always ache as they heal, and this one is closing slowly, even if I am grateful for his absence. I am done with all we were in the end and I have no desire to repeat that, and wisely I believe he feels the same. We are still friends but neither of us wants much to do with the other. That is a good thing.
Back to this morning. I woke well though still missing my usual exuberance. I had to go outside to get my coffee cup as I had waded through the mud last night and waved the effort for this morning. I rise before the dawn and the day was just breaking when I went out, the sky muffled by the dense clouds of a storm which is still with us at the end of the day. Unconsciously I looked skyward and spoke some words of thanks before I even considered them, so well engrained the habit has become, and in an instant I woke to all that I am thankful for! The air was heavy with moisture and the clouds billowed across the mountains and flowed down into the canyons. What more, I had to ask, could I wish for and why would I allow any measure of unhappiness to buffer that?
The feeling, like the clouds, stayed with me all day and as if it wanted to be sure I would not forget, lest I forget, I was reminded again late in the afternoon. I was driving to the west and I looked skyward, as I am bound to do whenever I can, and a portal opened in the clouds. Beyond the open space was blue sky and more clouds at such a distance it seemed as to reveal yet another realm of itself. I was drawn in and my spirit lifted and I remembered, again, all which defines this life itself and how inconsequential everything else really is. I am such a fool to forget that!