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Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Pot Of Yellow Marigolds: Chapter Five Of Watching And Thinking Of Blueberries

"Oh, come on!" I grumbled aloud, "I was outside for five minutes." It was, of course, during those five minutes without my phone, however, that Rick had chosen to call me from work. I came in from refilling the bird feeder and saw the missed call and voicemail alert on my cell.

"Hey. Give me a call when you get a minute....Um...something in the paper...I want to tell you about."

When Rick says "the paper", I know he's talking about our local newspaper, to which we no longer subscribe. We gave it up in favor of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, a publication I feel isn't so negative, political, and amateurish. And honestly, I got tired of the delivery person dragging her dog right across my lawn every day, ignoring my walk and my wishes to the contrary. The Paper is available for free online, so Rick catches up with the town news that way and passes on information I'll find interesting. Usually, he tells me which of my former students has been indicted or arrested.

I sat down on the couch and called him back. "Nance," he said, "Tish's obituary was in the paper today. She died several days ago. It just says 'surrounded by family and friends' and that arrangements are private. She was ninety-three, did you know that? I wanted to tell you, to make sure you knew about it."

Instinctively, I turned to look over at her house right across the street. It has a For Sale sign in its yard now: that was one of the things to appear over the summer after the parade of workmen finally left. I'd only seen a realtor show the house a few times, and there's never been an open house there.

"Nance? Are you there?" I suddenly realized that I hadn't responded to the news that Rick had told me. Still looking at Tish's house, I spoke. "Yes. I'm sorry. Thanks for telling me. Oh, Rick, it's just sad, isn't it?" There wasn't time for anything more, and I had to let him hang up.

I stood up and went to my front door, opened it, and looked out to Tish's lonely, dead-eyed house. In a final eradication of her, the real estate company had placed a ridiculous plastic panda head about the size of a softball on the top step, clearly a key safe. Tish would have kicked that thing off, with the toe of her designer pumps, in the utmost disdain.

With tears in my eyes, I read her online obituary. It was, thankfully, lovely and fitting. It said that she married her highschool sweetheart when she married Barrington, and that she was a wonderful teacher and played golf wherever and whenever she could. When I clicked over to leave my condolences, I was the first one, and that made me sad. Two weeks later, there are still only five, but I considered the fact that many people may have chosen to or have been able to send theirs directly to her family.

I briefly considered placing a pot of yellow mums on the steps of her house as a tribute and remembrance. Tish always had two pots of yellow mums and marigolds there. But I decided that it would make me feel worse to watch them die and decay as November became more cruel and inhospitable.

Tish and Barrington always used to leave for Florida as soon as the weather got too cold for golf. Sometimes it was late October and sometimes it was early or mid-November. We would suddenly become aware that they were simply not there anymore. It became so routine that we stopped noticing after a while.

I know someday this will be true about the house across the street. That one day, after it is sold and lived in for many years by someone else, the story of Tish will not feel so poignant. That, perhaps, I might only think of it for a moment when I see, somewhere, a pot of yellow marigolds.

marigolds

12 comments:

  1. Over the years I've enjoyed your stories about Tish. I feel sad that her house is now, not her house. My condolences. Thank you for telling us the rest of her story.

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    1. Ally Bean--As soon as that furniture started coming out of that house a year or two ago, I started feeling uneasier. It was as if Tish and that house were linked. I know it sounds ridiculous and superstitious. And 93 is a wonderfully long life.

      Anyway, I am glad that you found the story satisfying to read. I hope it has one final chapter, and that it is a happy one of a lovely new tenant in her house.

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  2. Wow - 93! I'm glad, whatever other remembrances there are, that she's remembered by you.

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    1. Bug--What a lovely thing to say. I'm sure that no one else remembers her quite the way I do/am. That's certain.

      Tish was terribly regal in her deportment always. She seemed ageless. When I heard she was 93, it seemed impossible to me although of course The Math was inarguable. I marvel constantly at how fast the time goes.

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  3. I'm so sorry; how kind of Rick to tell you the way he did and how kind of you to remember Tish and how she touched your life.

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    1. Rose--Thank you. Tish was singular in many ways. I know that many, many people are remembering her so fondly.

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  4. I'm so sorry, Nance, I know how fond you were of Tish. Perhaps you could keep some flowers on your porch, or inside, in her memory? We had a neighbor several years ago that I liked a lot, and she died from complications of Lupus. It was horrible. Two families have come into her house since then (it's a rental, so turnover is higher than if it had to be sold). Both families have been really nice and lovely, and do lighten the burdon of having had her there, and then not there, if you know what I mean.

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    1. J@jj--Thank you. It wasn't so much that I was fond of her, really. It was more a case of what she grew to represent to me. I was more...rooting for her, I guess. I don't know.

      I am glad that the house will be sold rather than rented, which is usually the case around here with these homes left behind by elderly parents whose children are already older, married, and settled into homes of their own. The market is difficult, and these colonials have one full bathroom upstairs; usually that's it. A tough sell.

      I'm glad that you have had nice neighbors to ease the transition from the neighbor you miss. I am hopeful for nice neighbors as well.

      As to the flowers...I don't think so. They were her signature and not mine.

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  5. As a relative newcomer to your blog, I went back to read the other interesting posts in the series about Tish. I loved the fact that she brought blueberries for you to make your own pie and I can almost hear her saying "I don't do pies."

    Interesting, isn't it? How our lives become entrenched with others with whom we cross paths. People we know only casually but who for some reason touch us with their lives. And so we grieve for them when they are gone.

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    1. NCmountainwoman--How nice of you to catch up and read all of the chapters. Thank you for your interest.

      Tish was definitely One Of A Kind. It was so sad that she had to leave her home the way she did, and heartbreaking to watch her brief visits there. I so wanted things to turn out differently, almost every step of the way, but it was not to be.

      She had, for the most part, a wonderfully satisfying life as far as I know of it. I'm sure she was grateful.

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  6. I remember reading the Tish stories over the years and had wondered if there would be another chapter in the story - the last one led me to believe that it would be something like this - not unexpected, but it's still sad. Hope the new neighbors that come will be interesting and lively and bring you and your neighborhood much joy.

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    1. MsCaroline--I hope so, too. Thank you for reading all this time.

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