Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sifting for Peace

Bernie and his fellow employees were given their End of Job instructions the other day. They were told that they would have little time on the last day to gather their possessions, and then they would be escorted to the Personnel Building to sign some papers and receive their last two paychecks.

Whoa! The last two paychecks? At once? That would mean that Friday, this coming Friday, the Friday that is only two days hence, is their last day!

The company has been saying that April 1st is the last day, though I believe they would be paid through Friday, as Good Friday is a paid holiday. Certainly it makes sense to shuffle the workers out of there sooner than that, however, as shutdowns tend to bring out the stickiest fingers in employees.

We've had notarized and turned in the papers that allow Bern to roll his 401k into another retirement account; he cleaned out his locker last week. "Stuff" is done, and now it's a matter of counting down the hours, wanting the time to BE here NOW, with all the usual aches and pains and irritations tremendously magnified by anticipation of being free of them.

I will never miss seeing him so tired his skin looks grayish. Or seeing him limping, or favoring an arm because the 10-hour physical labor is wearing out his joints. I won't miss how angry he gets on his commute in the afternoon (we converse by cell phone -- hands-free sets, of course -- until he's safely there) or waking at 3am wondering if he's on the road, or just leaving the plant, and praying fervently and nervously that he gets home in one piece.

I also don't think I'm going to miss being alone so much of the time. Since we got down to the six weeks mark, it has been harder and harder for me to rally and work in the mornings. I want him to be awake, and not have to sleep until noon. I don't want to do things by myself any more, and find it difficult to get moving, because the time is so short until he CAN be with me.

So there's tension in our air, waiting, and this weekend, too, we're going to be "sitting Seder" here at the house, which is a big deal for us. We moved furniture last weekend, to make the big room clear enough for tables for 20; Lillian and I scrubbed baseboards; the lamb roasts are thawing in the fridge; the ritual foods are ready. The Seder Sing-Along Song Books are prepared; tomorrow I'll probably iron the Seder tablecloth. We arranged for chair rental today, and in keeping with the Passover time of year, both dogs are in the middle of spring shed, leaving drifts of black and caramel hair EVERYWHERE.

Tonight the nursing home called me to update me on Mom's condition. She actually weighs a decent weight now; she was severely malnourished the last time I saw her. (I couldn't understand how she kept going!) She's been having problems with incontinence, but that's Alzheimers for you: the perfect purgation disease. Having trouble giving up your worldly existence and goods? No problem! Alzheimers will take care of all that for you, from those pesky checkbooks and bills all the way down to your last shred of dignity! Anyway, the caregivers are not pumping her full of tranquilizers now, and so she's refusing to wear her dentures and yet complaining in the dining room that she can't eat because she has no teeth.

The beauty and poise of the freesias, especially the white ones, reminds me that there is a well of peace from which I can drink and rest easy in the times of turbulence. In spite of all the hurry and worry and twitchies, life is beautiful, and if we can just listen the right way, that strange thing we call "grace" with bring all of it into harmony.

The hard part is just stopping to listen.

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