Ay, el camino

 

The end of an era. Seventeen years and some months after she discovered my father lying still and silent in his bed, him having eased out of this world with a peace we’d never dared hoped for, my mother has finally consented to sell his car.

This is not a small deal for her, letting go.

Too many years of being a caregiver for a man who teetered between vitality and the verge of death, between sudden cardiac failure and suddenly deciding to buy a new boat – it wore Mom out. When death finally did manage to catch Dad napping, the residual stress, heaped now with grief and solitude, turned my formerly organized neatnik mother into a hoarder.

I based a play on it, and turned it into a film. She didn’t much care for either one. Go figure.

Now, we have this widow thing in common. I know it has to drive her crazy, the clutter in her house. My own mess drives me nuts, and I have never been organized or neat. I am the woman who drove her husband crazy leaving shoes and bras all over the house.

I get the clutter, and I get the hesitancy to face it – much less dispose of anything. Every time something of Mark’s leaves the house, I am relieved, and worried that I’ve just let go of something really important.  A friend had to talk me out of an emotional meltdown after I gave away a box of Mark’s clothes – ones that didn’t matter, the size “small” pants and shirts that he had to buy after radiation turned his throat into a mass of sores and he dropped over 70 pounds. (Mark: “I’ve been on the cancer diet. Highly effective, but I don’t recommend it.”)

So, I get it. The hoarding. The holding on. And the letting go. I understand the need to finally move on. And I look at that pile of stuff, papers and to-do’s and must-do’s, and I worry about everything, about money and health, about losing my mother, about whether or not I’m doing right by my kids, and whether I’m doing enough to help them move on into their adult lives.

And there is a car in my driveway, a 1997 Honda Odyssey. It smells like him. It smells faintly of sweat. It smells like sawdust. It smells like our dog, who died, whose collar he stored in the console between the front seats. The car is quirky and old, but still driveable. It’s a worthy first car for a couple of teenagers.

Now, I just have to give it to them – the car, and the freedom. Minus the clutter.

.

Adios, El Camino (photo by Nancy Cheatwood Ellis)

Adios, El Camino
(photo by Nancy Cheatwood Ellis)

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About Vicki Caroline Cheatwood

Writerly. Rebooting. Evolving. Searching for great chicken salad.
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7 Responses to Ay, el camino

  1. kecameron says:

    May have a buyer for the vehicle – nephew in need of a good used car. If it is still available please message me.

  2. Pam says:

    Vicki, for what it’s worth, you can stop worrying about weather you are doing right by your boys. I have loved getting to know them the times they have come over. They are smart, polite, mature, and funny. Although the amount of time I have spent with them is brief, I can tell that they are well adjusted and you are doing an amazing job with them. Pam

  3. Dana Mullen says:

    You amaze me Vicki. Life, in all its glory, comes barreling at you like a ball of rolling butcher knives and don’t even side step a little bit. You take every cut and bump and bruise and turn it into an opportunity. An opportunity to refine your spirit, enhance your mind or improve the world around you. I recognize this doesn’t usually happen in the blink of an eye complete with blog post ready at hand. Nonetheless, you take it as it comes. You breathe deep and let the lessons imbue your psyche with enough knowledge and emotional intelligence to get you through with grace and truth-to-you. Sure, other people do that kind of thing too but no one shares it like you do. The way you embrace your truth and lovingly share that truth is singular, enlightening and authentic.This post resonates with me because I am in a similar set of circumstances with my father and am struggling with how best to forward, with my own child, the emotional legacy attached to the process of letting go, without the clutter. Your writing gives me support, it empowers me, it gives me hope and courage.

    • Dana Mullen, if I can get bigamy legalized in Texas, and talk your wife into sharing, will you marry me? WOW.

      • Dana Mullen says:

        Even though Giselle Annette Carmita Scantanelli Scantoni Antoni-Mullen (yep that’s her whole name) holds the key to my heart and is my date for life, you, sweet woman,just made my day!

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