Alone in the Woods

HeleninherKitchenDear Nana,

I dreamed about my girlfriend Ruthann last night and that made me think of you. Plus, I can’t think of a blog topic, so I decided to write you instead.

Ruthann passed away the week before Thanksgiving. I woke up thinking, “I need to email Ruthie” and then I remembered. That’s when I thought of you because you also have a habit of showing up in my dreams. Most of the time, though you show up in my day dreams.

Even though you’ve been gone for more than twenty-five years, you are still all around me. I can smell your legendary Sunday dinners in the utensils I inherited from your kitchen, and hear your voice in the jays and blackbirds that mimic the soundtrack of your yard. I see you standing in your red plaid flannel shirt whenever I pull on a piece of red clothing. I remember you telling me I looked great in red and so I have a lot of red clothes. So did you, by the way.

Anyway, beyond dreaming about Ruthann and thinking of you, here’s what’s going on in my life: I published my first book. I know! I always knew I would write a book, but didn’t think it would be this soon. And yes, I did say “my first book.”

I guess 60 isn’t all that young, but I didn’t think I’d write my first book until after I retired. These days, however retirement is a lost concept. Come to think of it, you really didn’t retire either. You just kept on cooking up those incredible meals into your 80’s. I’ve never tasted chocolate chip cookies like the ones you baked. Please whisper your recipe in my ear one of these days.

If the truth be told, I am as close to retired as I care to get. I’m involved in my community just enough to give me social legitimacy, leaving more than enough time for writing, cooking and walking in the woods. Oh, there. You popped into my head again as I thought about the woods behind your house. What a great place to play! All of us so loved our hikes up to the sand pits.

The_Sand_PitFrankIllo2000Did you know Frankie has not been up there in years? He says he wants to keep the image in his head of what it looked like when he was a kid. He even painted a picture of it from memory.

Anyhoo, as you used to say, when I was walking in the woods today, I took stock of my mental state. Okay, that’s a fib. I interviewed myself. I know it’s weird but sometimes when I’m alone in the woods, I talk to myself. It’s amazing what I learn by talking out loud. Come to think of it, I probably started this habit right after you died and I didn’t have you to talk to anymore.

So, I was walking in the woods and I asked myself, “How are you today?” and I answered, “Pretty good” and I said “Well you sound kind of down.”
“I guess I’m feeling a little guilty.”
“How come?”
“I’m not working as hard as I used to.”
“Heh heh, I seem to recall you being resentful because you were working too hard, vowing to cut back on your responsibilities, and now that you’ve done that, you’re feeling guilty?”
“Yeah, I know. I guess if I have to choose resentment or guilt, I’ll go with the guilt.”

It’s not like I don’t do anything for anybody anymore. There goes your voice in my head again. Good point. Guilt is a symptom of a healthy conscience, so it’s a good sign to have a little twinge of guilt here and there. But no point in getting carried away.

Well, thanks for the nice chat, Nana. I do love you so!

Love, Cookie

“I still blame myself – for what, I can’t exactly say. I might as well condemn myself for choosing the wrong parents, or the wrong planet.”
– Sy Safransky, editor and publisher of The Sun

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