Tuesday, March 8, 2011

On the Road

My mom left that first week in June and it was difficult to be alone.  I just really needed to avoid staring at four walls.  I was much better off if I had a plan for my days.  One day, I went out to get the mail and found a letter from the insurance company.  I walked in and sat on the couch and opened it and started to rock and cry and rock and cry.  There, in my hand was a very, very large check made out to me.  I didn’t want it; this check felt like the thirty silver coins of Judas.  I wanted my husband and no amount of money was going to make me feel better.  The next day another large check appeared in my mailbox.  I was sickened by the thought of it.  What do you do with a check like that?  I had no idea.

I called my friend’s husband and spoke to him about it and he told me what kind of credentials to look for in a financial planner.  I needed all of this money to raise my boys with.  I finally decided to call Rick’s friend, Ron who was a financial planner.  He came over and helped me to sort it all out.

The first thing I did with the money was to pay back Rick’s sister,  The second thing I did was payback Michael’s babysitter.  Doreen was thrilled with the amount and they used it to by “soil” in Altoona, PA where they were from.  They eventually built a home there and move back near their family.

Next on my agenda was to pay off all our bills.  After struggling for so long with money, this gave me some feeling of security.  I would have returned the money people gave me but that was impossible so I had to settle for whatever God brought my way.  I would pay it forward.

My brother Danny and I went to the Toyota dealership and brought my two used cars to trade them in.  I bought a van; it was a demo with seven thousand miles on it.  It was reliable transportation and that was what I was going for.

They say you can never go home and I suppose that’s true but during that first year summer after Rick died, I felt like I needed to get out of Dodge.  I walked into my principal’s office five days before school let out and told him I couldn’t do any more.  He told me he was surprised that I lasted that long.  I had no desire to do much of anything.  I was sad, lonely and depressed.

I called my mom and asked if I could come to the lake.  “Of course,” she said.  I told my mom that I didn’t want to be a burden to them and that I would buy our own food and prepare our own meals so we wouldn't impose.

The lake house is on Cayuga Lake which is in Central New York.  Cornell University is at the Southern tip of the lake; the southern end is not far from Auburn, NY.  My parents bought the land on which they built in the early 60’s for about eighteen hundred dollars.  The trailer that we lived in was moved to the lake property and we went there on weekends to swim, picnic, fish and try to tame the foliage that grew on the lot. 

The lake is about forty miles from Cortland, where I grew up.  It is on N.Y.S. Rt. 90; the closest town is King Ferry which is a four-corner town.  One literally takes a left in the middle of a corn field and follows the dirt road as it winds its way down to their home.  Quite frankly, it is in the middle of nowhere.  They were the only owners who lived at their home year round.

The house is a three story home with two decks; it sits up on a hill overlooking the lake.  The view is gorgeous.  I have many happy memories of sitting out on the deck with my mom in the evening and watching the sunset while being dive-bombed by many hummingbirds that were angry at us for being near their feeder.

The house was built around 1997; my dad contracted most of the work out. There were two bedrooms upstairs with a full bath.  My parents’ bedroom with full bath, the kitchen, living room, wash room, powder room and garage were on the middle floor and the basement was a very large family room that opened out onto one of the decks.

I don’t know if I longed to be near my parents, my friends in Cortland or just not at home, but whatever the reason, it was a lovely place to go to settle my brains with my boys.  They didn’t ever want to leave.  We made at least three trips up that summer.  I had to go back to Virginia to take care of mail and filing of papers. We saw family and I reconnected with my childhood friends.  Talking about what happened was part of healing process that I needed to go through.  We had many adventures.  The boys sailed, swam, went boating, rode a tractor, played in the creek behind my childhood home, hung out with cousins and explored the lake.

You can never go home but being close to it was a comfort.

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