Morbid Much?

Dear Aunt Peg,

I realize that you are ninety years old, that you’ve had a good life, and that one of the reasons we had your birthday in June instead of August was that you said you felt you didn’t have much time left. (The other reason, of course, was that August weather in SoDak is brutal.)

You’ve been a great auntie. Everyone should have a great-aunt as funny, spry, and sweet as you are, so I know you won’t find it offensive when I ask you that, if this intestinal blockage that has you in the hospital tonight is going to kill you, you could manage to die by Halloween, or hold on til December. Not that I want you to die. Of course I don’t. We aren’t ready to let you go yet, though I know you’ve said you’re getting kind of tired.

But you see, November is a suckful month in our family. My grandfather (your brother), my uncle Merrell, my cousin Eddie, Ginny who thought I was her birthday cousin because we share the same birthdate….all these people died in November, and frankly, if one more person in our family dies in November I’ll have to strike that page from the calendar. Not just MY calendar. THE Calendar. The one that determines when we observe things like Labor Day and Daylight Savings. You know. The big one. The official One.

And removing November would be pretty horrible for the people who have birthdays then, for all the folks who participate in NaNoWriMo, for the people who like to vote (we’d have to make sure November 2008 was put back in, at least), and for all the people who’ve never seen the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and should, as well as all the people who have, and want to again, and never miss it on TV.

I’ve lost enough family this year, Aunt Peg: Uncle Stan, Cousin Pat, Aunt Gwen…and I’m sad about all of them, of course, but you and I are actually kind of close, in the way that great-aunts and grand-nieces can be. We’ve shared Christmases, hotel rooms, and illicit cups of coffee together.

So here’s the deal. No dying. Because frankly, with Pat having died just last week, and my grandmother’s death in 2000 pretty much destroying Christmas, October and December are hanging by mere threads, and if we excised a whole quarter of a year, people might get a bit tetchy.

So, use all that Klindienst stubbornness and Chapman stamina, and the sweetness from the frosting of every cake you ever decorated, and bundle it up and get better.

Because if you don’t?

I’ll make my mother sing at you.

Love always,


Sunday Morning

9:08 AM.

I’ve been up for about half an hour, woken by nature’s insistent call, and am apparently fully awake now, even though our alarm won’t go off for an hour.

I escorted the dogs out to the back yard this morning, wanting to feel the fresh air. It’s supposed to warm to nearly 90 degrees by the end of the day, but right now it’s one of those deliciously crisp fall mornings with just enough wind, and I sat in the soft rays of the morning sun, and let the breeze wrap itself around my arms, and ruffle my hair, and tickle my ankles, while I watched the dogs sniffing in the ivy, and listened to a chorus of birdsong. I’m hoping Fuzzy understands that while the weather is my lover, he’s my true love and best friend. Also he takes the garbage out, and brings me flowers. The weather, however seductive it might be, never does either.

Well, sometimes it brings me flowers, but I have to share them with the whole of Creation, which lessens the impact somewhat.

Back inside now, I’m at the antique wooden writing desk typing on the pink Macbook. A glass of tart cranberry juice and a container of fat-free peach yogurt serve as breakfast this morning. I’m craving a croissant and a latte, and while I might have the latter, later, the former isn’t an option.

Anyway, croissants are only good first thing in the morning.

I have NPR murmuring at me from the kitchen. I’ve been really into radio lately. I like the way you can discover whole new worlds between the numbers on the dial. Turn the knob one way, and you get a sports channel, giving you the latest information on the Indianapolis Colts or Dallas Cowboys, or whatever. Turn it in the opposite direction, and a burst of bad mariachi assaults your ears, but it’s only for a moment because you’re moving on to the next.

Top 40. Country-Western. Vintage Rock. Talk Shows. NPR.
An entire world inside a little box, and so much more interesting than television, the way novels are better than movies.

Sunday morning.
A time for small discoveries.
And a tryst with the autumn breeze.


Last Sunday marked the third anniversary in this house, the longest I’ve ever been in a single house.

This weekend marks, not our 12th wedding anniversary, because that was in March, but the 12th anniversary of flying home to California (when it was home) for the pot-luck reception my parents hosted. We had a Humanist minister lead a brief ceremony, where we quoted from Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, and read the “Apache Wedding Prayer,” and my grandmother gave us her mother’s wedding ring, a rose-gold band with sheaves of wheat flanking a platinum inset holding three diamond chips. I’m wearing it as I write this, with her diamond engagement ring. I bought Fuzzy’s ring, and keep joking that someday I’d like a ring from him, but the reality is that I like being able to wear my family history on my fingers, and my great-grandmother was such a tiny woman (or so I’ve heard – she died when my grandmother was nineteen) that the small scale of her ring suits my pixie hands.

Neither our actual wedding (we eloped) nor this ceremony were terribly fancy, there were no strings of bridesmaids, groomsmen gift buying frenzies, or hoards of relatives we barely knew. Instead, a few simple words, and then a pot-luck in the back yard where our multicultural friends brought traditional wedding foods from their own families or countries of origin.

Part of me wishes we’d done a formal wedding.
Part of me doesn’t.

But either way, October has become a month of personal milestones.

And I rather like that.