There are 8765 hours in a year – and each of them has ticked off once again since Risa passed away in 2010. Entering my fifth year as a single parent raising two girls and I can say we are making the best of our lives and have overcome life’s hurdles – not without challenges. But 8765 times four living and remembering, we’re hanging in.
A lot happened during the course of the year – along with each of us getting a year older we’ve gone about living our lives together and independently – and I think each of us have learned a lot. The memories we share of Risa are never far away, and we talk about them a lot.
For me, I’ve had the chance to do so much during the last year. It may not look like a well planned and thought out process – but more often than not it is. There are so many people in my life who help make things easier to deal with. Many have been there for a life time or longer – others are new.
For the girls, the year has been full of a lot of change and transition. 14.0 is in high school now, and asserting her independence. 12.0 is growing so quickly – and is quickly becoming a young lady. She’s deep into the circuit for bar/bat mitzvahs for friends now – with hers less than a year away.
In the middle of the year our long time sitter moved out. A few months later, my brother (who needed a chance to re-boot) moved in. One day we’ll get our house back – but until then, I think Risa would be happy. 8765 time four living and remembering – and we’re doing OK.
It’s been about a month that my brother has been living with us – and largely its been quiet. My goal has been to make him feel welcome but not too comfortable, because the objective is to have him move out sooner rather than later.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, we try to help when we can. When our friends lost power during Hurricane Sandy – we opened our home. When a friend needed help moving we made it work. And when friends need advice on the road we’ve traveled, we share our experience. So, when my brother needed some help – we (mostly I) decided to do what we could to help him get back on his feet.
So, we opened our house. And truth be told, it has not been easy. The girls and I have a rhythm to our days and weeks – and it’s not easy to add someone else to that beat. Beyond that – since my objective is to have my brother move out, we want him to feel welcome in our house – but not comfortable enough to want to stay.
In the days when Risa was in hospice through her funeral and the weeks after, the one thing I did more than anything else was make sure the girls had a routine to follow that they could count on. In a lot of ways it means sacrifice on my part to make sure they can count on the routine. Adding another element to the routine is not easy – but we’re managing.
So, the welcome mat is out. The hope is my brother can begin to put his life back together, put his family life back together – and meet the objective of moving out. Until then, he’s welcome (and I hope) not too comfortable.
When someone asks (and they will), “What did you guys do on your holiday break?” I have a few answers I can fall back on. We skied. We spent some time with our cousins. We spent some time in the city. We saw some friends. And in the new year, new paint for one of our bathrooms.
Painting a bathroom is generally not something of note, I get that.
But when I make changes to the long-term status quo in the house it’s always with a sense of hesitation. It goes unexpressed, but I always wonder if the girls feel as if I am erasing part of their memories.
In my defense, the paint in the 1/2 bathroom we painted this weekend was the original builders off-white paint that has been in use for more than 10 years. Frankly the bathroom looked awful.
There are other areas in the house I’d like to get to, and in time I will. There’s a closet full of stuff that I don’t need that is mostly out of sight and out of mind. I have some peeling paint in another bathroom, some scarred walls that need new paint – and in time all of that will be done.
But not before I reach the point where I just can’t deal with the status quo. Maybe not the best system, but hey – In the new year I have new paint job in a bathroom.