Roses are my favorite, 1989
Roses are my favorite, 1989
Above the clouds
the sun is
with yellow streaks
and puffy pink wisps.
Moving, reshaping, shifting
blending to form images
never the same.
I want to be a cloud.
Mold, black mold; not Texas Tea Black Gold, but in my closet black mold, growing behind four layers of wallpaper, scraped off one at a time, layers of black mold in between each layer, black mold, all the way down to a cement wall that had black mold. We did pay a home inspector, but this was a hidden mess.
When I first saw the closet walls, gunky stuff was on the outermost layer of wallpaper. I decided to scrub down that wallpaper because I was thinking, maybe somebody sprayed a can of Pepsi all over the walls. That took a few hours that I will never get back because as the wallpaper got moist from the warm dishcloth and fell down, I found my first identifiable layer of black mold. Thick and thriving, unaware its life was about to end.
Spraying each layer with bleach, returning when it was dry, scraping each layer off with a knife/chisel, vacuuming, spraying bleach again, not just because black mold is toxic, but because I am blessed with OCD and then me, showering. Often.
I bought a ventilated mask when I began this week long, no end in sight project and I dutifully put it on for every adventure into the closet from hell.
I couldn’t breathe for the rest of my adventures without inhaling hot steam that I’d exhaled just a second ago, but it made me feel safer somehow.
I say somehow because I hadn’t thought about getting safety glasses or a hat and the black mold showered down upon my head and in my eyes pretty consistently.
So after each adventure in the closet, I stepped into the shower with everything I was wearing and it all got washed.
I decided after the first day that I needed more safety equipment and my husband was delighted that we needed a trip to Harbor Freight. I bought safety glasses, some better scrapers, a worker’s jumpsuit and a huge straw hat.
We also stopped for a gallon of Salted Caramel ice cream.
A week later and one gallon of Kilz and that closet was the cleanest space in this century-old house.
There was only one fatality. The vacuüm cleaner choked to death.
Along our travels, we made a pit stop for food and I walked outside to get some fresh air. I found a field of dandelions gone to fluff and I picked a bouquet.
I spun around and around in my butterfly covered sun dress and let the fluff cover me as I made wishes.
I could feel the magic surround me.
The magic didn’t come from the dandelion fluff, it came from believing in dandelion wishes.
I’ll never forget that moment.
I tucked it in my heart to save for a rainy day…
I am my own wife now and I’m finding out just how good I’m going to treat myself.
Am I going to be a good wife or a bad wife?
I didn’t start out very good. I almost starved to death.
I forgot to eat because there was no one to cook for and I didn’t have anybody asking me, what’s to eat, what’s for lunch, what’s for supper, do you want to go out to eat, do you want me to go get something?
I was in a food vacuum, food just didn’t exist.
What I noticed was my deodorant wasn’t working, so I changed brands several times and when that didn’t help, I started to do some research on Google to find out what’s strange illness I might have that was causing an odor deodorant couldn’t manage.
I found out that I wasn’t putting enough food into my body and that my body was burning muscle to survive. The odor was from being in a state of starvation. I was shocked. I knew I had to eat to live, but I didn’t know I could die from not eating enough.
I had been wasting away and I hadn’t even noticed.
I took off my clothes to take a look at my body and it wasn’t good. Skin and bones.
I couldn’t remember the last time I had been hungry. I had already lost too much weight before my husband and I separated and the scale reported that I’d dropped ten more pounds and I hadn’t even noticed.
I had been eating yogurt and an egg once or twice a week, a couple of spoonful’s of peanut butter every day, but my body was not happy and it wanted some real food.
I learned that once you are in the starvation mode, it gets dangerous. I had to start to eat slowly because starvation damages the heart and I could actually have a heart attack if I started to eat too quickly.
I went to the store and I bought more than just peanut butter, coffee, milk and dog food.
I searched for food that I used to like, so I could tempt myself to eat. I stood there crying because I could barely remember what I liked.
Just shopping for groceries was traumatic. I hadn’t shopped for groceries since my husband retired. We used to joke that he was the wife now and he said I could just write while he took care of cooking, shopping and helped with laundry.
It wasn’t really funny. I stopped shopping a few months after he retired because whatever I brought home wasn’t right, wrong brand, wrong price, wrong flavor. I stopped cooking because he would disagree with the what, the how, the why and the end result. I wasn’t even able to feed the dogs the way he wanted, and if I made my own coffee he would ask why I didn’t have him make it for me.
To some, it looked like I was a pampered princess, but I was actually removed from my kitchen. His at home-ness led to my retirement as a wife. He took over the bills, the kitchen, the shopping and the dogs and I allowed it. I gave up.
So I am my own wife now. It’s been five months, and I am treating myself much better, but it takes awareness and effort. I spoiled my husband and my kids forever, so I know how to do it, I just have to turn that love towards myself.
I started eating slowly. I started cooking for myself for the first time in years. Actual meals. My daughter and grandson come over for supper at least twice a week now and that motivates me to cook. I’ve only gained a pound, but I’m back to my favorite deodorant and it works.
The dogs are happy and well fed, so it turns out that I do know how to feed them. I haven’t cried at the grocery store lately, so I believe I am learning to be a good wife. To myself.
A NOTE FROM GRACE (My Mom)
When my children were growing up and got into their “teenage problem” years, I’d become exasperated with them. I’d think, “They’re just like their father!”
Then, one day the light dawned on me, (Marblehead) because after taking a hard, honest look at myself, I realized; they were just like me. The me I had suppressed and hidden deep inside, where no one else could see. I was as wild and rebellious as they, but I had put up a shield of adult perfection, striving to become the perfect mother that everyone expected me to be.
I have now learned that I need to let this child in me come out to play, or the adult becomes a cold hard shell. I must confess, now that I’m older, I have to do this through my books, and old TV movies.
My mind wants to run through fields of flowers with all my clothes flung aside, but my body slows me down to a stroll through Wal-Mart, wrapped in warm sweaters.