Tied up

Yesterday was mostly about a necktie.

Here’s how it went:

I wake up at 4:20 a.m. I slowly recognize that I am in my own bedroom, my first morning home after being away for five days. I’d been on a mission of mercy for a close family member. (All is well now, we hope.) This morning, I’m feeling a little flu-ish and all the way spent.

And Sad. The kind of Sad that’s ten or so miles down the road from Lonely. The kinda Sad you have to watch out for.

No matter. I gotta go to work. I get out of bed.

I check my email. There’s a reminder from a teacher. My son  – we’ll call him “Son” – has a scholastic competition on Wednesday. He has to wear a suit, dress shirt, tie and dress shoes. We do a fast inventory. He can pull together everything he needs from the closet – except for the tie.

Mark’s clothes are in boxes in the closet. His ties are in there, somewhere. I really don’t want to open those boxes. I shove that thought aside.

It’s a physical labor kinda day, and I struggle to keep up, feeling foggy-headed and so tired. The stress of the previous week took a bite out of me, more than I’d reckoned.

After lunch, my mood begins to circle the drain. We have passed Sad, Lonely and PityPot and are steaming towards Brokedown and Shattered.

I can feel the depression sickness growing, moving, from inward to outward, until it’s just below the surface of my skin, like a blister from a badass burn. I take the mood meds, but by late afternoon, I’m struggling to stay out of the deep dark hole.  

It happens that tonight is my monthly grief group. Grief group is one place where I don’t feel like a freak. I’m relieved to have somewhere to go and release some of this mess in my head. But if I go, I won’t get home to my kids until 9 p.m.  They’ll be alone, and fixing their own dinner. Again.

Selfish.  Bad mother.  Failure.

Boom. The hole. I’m in it.  I have to get moving, and for me that means walking or swimming. I don’t have time to get from work to the gym and put in a good workout before group.  

I go to the gym anyway.

Somewhere between laps 1 and 17, I remember the necktie. I get out of the pool and get to the shower. I have to buy a necktie. No way I’ll have time to dig through boxes tonight, and Son has to have one by 6:30 a.m.

I’m in the car again. I can stop at Target. It’ll make me late for grief group, but I can do it. The swim helped my mood. I am – pardon the pun – afloat again. Nowhere near happy, but at least I’m out of the hole.

Until I remember. I don’t know how to tie a tie. Son does not know how to tie a tie. I berate myself for not think about this earlier in the week, or earlier in the day, when I could have asked someone to help.

My son does not have a father to teach him to tie a necktie.  

That chunk of realization takes my breath away. 

The Internet.

Hey, if it can teach me how to repair a toilet, it can teach him how to tie a necktie.

I arrive home, hand Son the necktie and say “Google it.” We spend the next hour or so with him popping in and out of the kitchen, asking me “Like this? Is this it?” It takes a few tries, but he finally gets it right. I make him undo it and redo it, for practice. We laugh about it, learning to tie a necktie on YouTube.

This morning, he headed out the door to catch his bus, suit and shirt and dress shoes and necktie on a hanger. I head back to work.  The competition started right after school, so I didn’t see Son until I picked him up after 7:30 p.m.  He says that his speech went well. We won’t know the results until later in the week.

We’re in the kitchen again, and Son says something about the necktie. I asked if he remembered how to tie it, and Son says yes he did. What he’s trying to tell me right now is that he had to help a friend.

What he’s standing here telling me is that today he taught someone else how to tie a tie.

I look at him and can’t help but see Mark Daves shining through. I don’t embarrass us both by happy-crying in the kitchen. I do what mothers of boys must do, and give him a grin and a high-five. I sneak in a “I’m really proud of you.”

He accepts it. He’s proud of himself, too.

“Son” and Dad, spring 2009


About Vicki Caroline Cheatwood

Writerly. Rebooting. Evolving. Searching for great chicken salad.
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7 Responses to Tied up

  1. Robin says:

    Ok, that made me tear up a little.

  2. Emily Gray says:

    love your power and love of your boys. thank you.

  3. Shareen says:

    Sweet! It’s the little things that make a difference.

  4. Paula Scheider says:

    I love this, Vicki. It made me tear up…and made me smile. You are doing SUCH an amazing job, even when you think you’re not.

  5. Lynette says:

    like Robin – I’m teary.

  6. broderick5@aol.com says:


    This one hooked me right in the heart.


    Love: it is the answer.

  7. Keep on keeping on, kiddo. It’s a steep path, but you’re doing it. Thank you so much for sharing your feelings, your discoveries, and your brave heart.

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