Friday, April 23, 2010

Apricots, Sadness & Joy

Yesterday I flew from L.A. to Baltimore. I remembered making the same trip in August of '08 when I came to deliver the sad tidings of the demise of my marriage to my mother in person."No, No,No!" She said, crying and stamping her feet. We were about to go out to dinner, and I decided to just blurt it out while we were gathering everyone together in my cousin David's kitchen before getting into our cars. My mother's twin, my Aunt Millie, was in her wheel chair by the door and hadn't quite heard what I'd said, but she burst into tears at the sight of my mother crying. "What's wrong? What's wrong?" she kept asking. "E. & Denise are getting a divorce," my cousin said. But with all of the commotion, she still didn't hear. "E. & Denise are getting a divorce," my cousin's girlfriend shouted. There we were, the five of us crammed in a  narrow kitchen in a squall of tears and shouts. But after a few minutes my mother rummaged a tissue out of her purse and blew her nose. "I hope his mother shoots him," she said.
My mother is somewhat less feisty these days. She almost died from surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from her lung last August and has had to give up the apartment she once shared with my aunt. She has a room at my brother's place now. My aunt lives in a nursing home with both of her legs amputated--lost to peripheral arterial disease. My cousin is old enough to have begun collecting social security.
And I am stunned at all the calamity and sadness that has visited my family since my marriage ended. Or maybe I'm stunned that I feel the pain of those hurts more than the happier things--an enagement, a wedding, the birth of a baby, the headlong falls into love, my own graduation.
I am laden with joys, but still wearing the veil of an unfinished sadness.
And what I picture as I write this is my apricot tree back home on my patio in L.A. Determined to reap its crop of lucious fruit for myself and spare it from an invading army of squirrels, I wrapped it in three layers of bird netting a couple of weeks ago. It looks sad to me--like a widow in a black veil. And I worry that it's not getting enough sunshine to ripen its fruit.

Addendum: After reading Allegra's comment, I have to post this picture I took in an apple orchard in southwest France last fall. The contrast in these 2 images--bride and widow--has made me re-imagine the imagery I must try to employ in my future as I re-invent my life.


Allegra Smith said...

Ikea has some white netting for curtains for something like five dollars a package. They are made of polyester, and impervious to anything. We wrapped our fruit trees with those, the weave is tiny so there is no danger of a small bird getting caught, that was what stopped me from the using the black netting over the figs for two years until I found those and immediately thought of the trees I went without figs or plums. The light comes through and my neighbor actually commented last year that they look like brides. Honestly. So get thee to Ikea and get some, they are cheerful and gracious to look at. The look may be more uplifting.

Elizabeth said...

I love you and Allegra. Honestly, you're both so unbelievably fabulous.