Saturday, January 9, 2016

Ready To Be Home

                                                Ready To Be Home
            Three weeks ago I left the sunny climes of Mexico for the frigid badlands of the Yellowstone River and Glendive, one of the strangest trips I’ve travelled.

            As the holiday season which ends the Old and precedes the New Year rolls around, I tend to introspection. Plunked down in the country where my ex-husband lived out his last years, here for his memorial service, made me even more so. Memories surfaced like snippets of film.

            When a couple have children, there is always a relationship. Then the grandchildren come along, another shared bond. To forestall an embarrassing moment, I asked my daughter to ask Harvey’s wife Pam where I should sit at the memorial. I sat with family. As Pam said, we are all family.

            At a time in my life when I was having a rough go, Harvey suggested Dee Dee live with them a while, the logic being there were two of them to control her (a logical illusion) and only one of me. Made sense. Dee went to high school in Bozeman. I had her for holidays. I got the best of that deal.

            As she will tell you herself, those years our daughter was a rebel. I’m sure Pam cried herself to sleep more than one night. Couldn’t have been all bad because Harvey and Pam ended up adopting five children.

            Right now my daughter is going through her own rough patch. It’s been one thing after another: health, car breakdowns, bills piling up, over-whelming hours at work. She had knee replacement surgery and then her father died. She seemed to me like a puppy lost in the clutter of living.

            I changed my return flight and stayed to pitch in where I could, to drive my daughter to physical therapy appointments, to be there for Christmas. You’d have to laugh to see us; me with my walking stick and she with her walker, a case of the halt leading the lame.

            Needless to say, my girl and I had good heart-to-heart talks. She might have been ready to kick me out a couple times when I cut too close to the bone.

            Maybe because we had the opportunity, Pam and I spent several hours together, our own heart-to-heart talks, a gift. Pam and I share a daughter.

            The day before I left Glendive I got a phone call from my son. Ben had been in jail, heroin related charges, for ten months. During that time he had applied for and was accepted into an intensive treatment program, recently instated in Washington. I knew he had been released December 20th.

            After searching my heart, I decided he had to want to contact me. Ten months of forced sobriety is good but the real test is what happens outside the walls. His phone call gave me hope. He lives in a treatment house for six months during which he has several kinds of therapy, AA meetings three times a day and four hours a day of group counseling.

            He spoke with both is sister and me. Of course, we compared notes. He took accountability for his actions, a real step forward. No excuses. His choices.

            So, my “holiday” in Montana was bittersweet, happy/sad. I carried worries like Santa’s pack. Finally I let them go. I didn’t cause it. I can’t control it. I can’t cure it. That goes for all the “its”.

            And I certainly can’t control my next-door neighbor, Frank.

            Firms in Mexico use a unique (to me) method of advertising. A team walks the street, one on each side, taping shiny colorful flyers on each door. It must work. Large chain stores use the method. Small family restaurants use it.

            Today I flew home to Mazatlan. When the cab pulled up to my house, my door was plastered with dozens of rectangles of color. It was the best and funniest welcome home I’ve ever experienced. Frank had gone collecting all over the neighborhood to decorate my door like a Christmas tree. If you need a special treat, a little extra cheer, I’ll send Frank by.

            Let’s live life as fully as we can. Feliz Ano Nuevo. Happy New Year.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

December 31, 2015

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