Rosemary Is Not Home TodayFriday, October 29, 2010
We woke up at 6:15. At 7 we were at the admissions desk of the Vancouver General Hospital. At 7:15 we were in the waiting room of the Pre-Palliative Operation area. At 8 they wheeled Rosemary away. I drove home in a melancholy way. On the way I was cheered up when I saw Rebecca waiting for her bus on Oak. I drove around the block and took her to school. “I danced with a boy, last night,” she told me. “He has auburn hair and his name is C.... I know everything,” I answered and added, “I just took Abbie to the hospital.” “Is she getting her lumpectomy today?” Rebecca asked. “Yes.”
As I write this I think that thankfully for me I have always had my mother around. This is because Rosemary has been my surrogate mother for 42 years. Rosemary was next to me, at home, in 1971 when my mother gave her last breath. Somehow that gasp of air, that whisp of soul, simply transferred from the one to the other.
All these years, Rosemary has done my taxes and worried about finances. It has been Rosemary who has made the important decisions that have in some helped us reach a level of success I would have never dreamed of. Rosemary made the decision to move from Mexico to Vancouver. It was Rosemary who suggested that we drive in our VW so that we would not have to buy a car on arrival. I remember Rosemary putting salt, pepper and even vinegar into our moving supplies that traveled here. It was Rosemary who figured we should move from our little home in Burnaby to our present location on Athlone Street. This decision might save us in the end as the house will eventually become the nest egg we never had which we “squandered” (not really) on trips with our daughters to Europe and Argentina and with Rebecca to Uruguay, Argentina, Mexico, Washington DC and Texas.
There have been more nights than I want to remember where I have been reading a novel in bed while Rosemary goes through piles of bills and figures out my GST and PST contributions to the government.
It was Rosemary who got me into gardening. Gardening has been a solace and a source of happiness, all that much better because we have shared it.
In many ways our beginning garden that has matured into the present one has represented our maturing relationship. Conflicts have all but disappeared and we agree on most everything, in the garden and out of it.
Rosemary has a small cancerous lump in her right breast. It seems to be on the surface and localized. I believe (and so do Rosemary and her surgeon) that once it is out, all will be fine again.
I told Rosemary a couple of weeks ago (something I have told her many times before) that anything over 50 years of existence is a free ride or yapa (in Peruvian Spanish). My daughters became angry for that comment. They do not seem to understand that after so many years of living in Mexico I have a Mexican sense of death and its inevitability. I think it is healthy. But I can further add that it is so comforting to be married to someone not much younger than I am. We share ills and aches and pains.
We don’t have to vocalize our realization that we are not too far away from not being able to cope with the garden. This is the first year that I pruned the laurel hedge with electric clippers. I was always proud that I did it by hand. This time around a bad pain in my left elbow prevented me from using them. We transplanted a large clump of “dwarf” polygonatum a couple of day ago and the mound was almost too heavy for me to lift with the problem of my painful rheumatic pinkies. We share these pains and ills. It’s almost comforting.
When Rosemary went to work and I would be home, her presence in the house was palpable. Her shoes might be by the door, and her nightie on the bed. There would be half-empty coffee mugs all over the house and I would become angry at the waste of her silly addiction to decaf coffee!
Today the cats are on the bed. Do they know? Rosemary is away and I know. They will call me around 4 to pick her up. All I can do is wait. Everything will be fine. Ale will arrive from Lillooet in the evening. Tomorrow, as Rosemary convalesces with her cats by her side, I will take our special Halloween picture of Lauren and Rebecca. Life is just grand.
And it is only of late that I have taken up the task of taking out the garbage.