I am as anxious as a child to live together. I pray you can find an apartment. Just
these past few days I have thought of it almost constantly. It’s so hard being
we were so busy at the store today. Keith and Henry came in to buy clothes for
their wives for Valentines Day and they said, “You know the size.”
will you learn my sizes, just in case you ever want to buy me anything to
think we are information bureaus. They say, “She’s 5’2”, weighs 115 pounds.
What size will fit her?”
compare their wives with the plump girl (meaning me).
I weighed myself tonight and I’m 123 pounds. I’m thinner with all this rushing
Sweetheart, when you write about getting shaved and taking a shower, I wish I
were near so you could come to see me. I get a big lump in my throat. How much
longer can we stand it to wait to be together?
is bad for you when I write like this. Forgive me, dearest.
just seems as if I could thoroughly enjoy cooking, washing, mending, cleaning,
baking and doing all the other things a devoted wife does for a prince of a man
like you. You’re swell, darling.
so proud to be your wife.
About 20 years
ago, as empty nesters, Ed and Ibby took up the hobby of bargain shopping with
friends, after church on Sunday afternoons. They were thrilled when Dad could
find a sport coat for $10 and Mom could buy shoes for $2.
Mom shopped for
friends and family as well as herself. When she saw something she knew someone
else could use, she didn’t hesitate to buy it for a good deal. She’d appear at
the door of friends with these gifts, or tuck the items away for another time.
My family and I
were often recipients. She’d ring my doorbell on a Monday morning, greeting me with
a grin on her face and a bag of clothing for my little ones, a blouse or
sweater for me, or a tie for Tim. Our finances were tight. I wasn’t working,
and my college tuition was a drain. These small surprises supplemented our
Now, the blessings
of the shopping hobby––the mass of things accumulated––became a curse as I
struggled to shovel out the house with the hopes of getting it sold before
spring, so lawn care––trimming, mulching, and mowing––didn’t put me over the
Mom had always
stockpiled goods, but gradually lost the ability to assess what she needed.
She’d wander the aisles of a grocery, putting familiar products in her
cart––items she thought she’d use. When she returned home, she’d stash her
wares away to cohabitate with the Depression-Era clutter. Things like dozens of
unopened boxes of Band-aids and thirty-four rolls of Reynolds Wrap lurked in
closets and cupboards, and hid in piles in the hallway and spare bedrooms. I
found things I didn’t want to touch in the bathroom and kitchen cupboards––things
that gagged me and made my stomach wretch––things so old that the containers
had burst and leaked, adhering everything else in its sticky path. I emptied
drawer after drawer filled with milk jug caps, bits of string, twist ties,
loose change, used nail files, and melted gum. Heaps of cardboard boxes so
moist from mildew that they seemed to melt when I tried to lift them, were
stacked like giant building blocks about to topple in the dank basement. The
hundreds of used glass jars inside these boxes once held anything from Welch’s
jelly to Ragu spaghetti sauce. White, kitchen-sized trash bags, the size of
Casper the Friendly Ghost, were full of nested plastic Parkay, Cool Whip, and
gallon ice cream containers, their random lids rattling alongside.
On nights I didn’t
have dinner with Mom and Dad at Lakeview Reserve, I’d quickly put things in
order for the next school day, then drive directly to the vacant house alone.
The three years of my parents’ illness had forced me to reprioritize my time at
school. I’d begun getting up at 5:00 a.m. in order to arrive at least one hour
early, using every moment of that time to grade papers and work on lesson
plans. I’d eat my own lunch while opening cartons of milk and ketchup packets
for students during lunch duty. Sometimes I’d finish my lunch on the playground
during recess duty. Every moment of my workday was spent trying to teach,
nurture, and stay ahead of twenty-some eight and nine year olds. And now––in my
second job of cleaning out Mom and Dad’s house––there seemed to be no end to
the sorting and pitching. I’d work for two to three hours every evening,
unearthing things buried for decades, cleaning about three to five feet of
area, down a hallway, or against walls––closets taking multiple days. The same
task awaited me every night.
It was winter, so
I arrived at dusk and worked well into darkness, but I experienced a dark side
of myself, which spilled from me as surely as junk spilled from the cupboards
and closets. I struggled with anger––feelings I’d never expected to have about