Jilly D.

Sourpuss lemon chicken

In Grief, Mourning, Time and seasons on January 9, 2011 at 1:58 am

Sam walking down the lane

That describes me pretty good. It’s January, cold, and I struggle with pain issues and more. Lost my sense of humor just like my sense of balance.

No, this isn’t a recipe blog. It’s a remembrance of the best of things and griefwords over its passing. Though check back for my soul food.

One winter it was so cold that when I finally broke through the ice on the pond and filled the bucket for the chickens in the barn I noticed one or two had frozen their toes right off. That’s right, nothing but stubs to hobble around on.

Sam could endure more pain than anyone I ever met. He had all his teeth pulled out at one time. True story. Felt fine the next day. The deer, elk and bison used to bash him around quite a bit. He weighed less than 140 pounds and every bit of it was muscle on his 5’9″ frame.

Arms scarred by antlers as badly as his corneas by welding. When in his early twenties Sam burned half his face off in a bad under-the-hood fire (explosion!) Pain is something he always knew intimately.

Farming is a dangerous business and there were lots of injuries between the two of us. I stepped on a rake and gave myself a shiner in the middle of my forehead once. It hurt. Learned finally what Sam had told me dozens of times. Never leave a rake on the ground tines up. That meant even when the phone was ringing inside and I had to run to catch it.

He broke his foot I don’t know exactly how many times. He told me about the one time when  he was trucking and walking his dog Buddy at a rest stop and put his foot into a groundhog hole and fell. He got back to his 18 wheeler and crawled in. Spent three days there and had a couple who were truckers parked next to him walk his dachshund. Eventually got inside the truckstop on the fourth day and showered and cleaned up and got back on the road. It healed. Not properly, he broke it again. Doc asked who fixed it the first time?

When his wrist was broken I came home one day from town and he asked me to make up some of my papier mache. I’d been experimenting with decoupage and mask-making and he’d watched me mix up flour and water into a paste and create with newspaper strips some hard casts.

I prepared the artist of pain his palette for orthopedics and assisted like a dental hygenist; only when asked to do a technical task in the proper execution of his wrist cast. Carefully he laid wet strips of newspaper on his strawberry-blonde hairy forearm. I dipped the strips in the sloppy paste of flour and water and handed each one to him as he built up a cast around his hand, wrist and forearm.

He never let it quite dry enough before he started using his hand. Simple things like turning the door knob and you could hear the bones crack. Flushing the toilet. Thank you. But it hurt. The sparks from welding flew inside and sizzled his skin. The cast didn’t last long.

He never complained about pain. The weather, yes. But he’d never be wuss enough to let on that he was hurting. Physical pain beyond my low threshold capacity.

When I first met him I noticed a deep crease in his brow. Where his eyebrows came together and his forehead met his nose, a set of wrinkles dug in deep, even when he slept. He worried.

When he’d fall asleep I liked to touch his face and massage his temples and brow. Slowly but surely he let me rub his skin with unscented cream and those deep lines disappeared overnight. He’d smile and the only lines in his face were those laughter ones at the corner of his blue eyes.

Massaging away that furrowed look of pain and worry I believed things were getting better and better. And he made me feel as though we were getting better and better. The year before he died I remember a million firsts for him that I thought were incredible breakthroughs in our intense love relationship. One example I can share is he opened the door to his sister’s house on Easter when my hands were full of a plate of devilled eggs.  It was not customary for him to open doors for me. He even installed an outdoor entry that had a weight to close the door behind me. That he acted like such a gentleman after all these years of bachelor farmer behavior levelled me and I let him know with gratitude how much such small things still mattered to me.

Never complained about the pain. He manned up. He was the ultimate manly man.

Me? I am a wuss. A girly girl. Actually an old widow in pain and that is not how I want to live out the rest of my remaining years. I had the best years of my life with Sam. Everything I am today is because of him. And I am not 39 anymore.

He used to tell me he wished he were 20 again but with all the wisdom he’d gained since. I waited all my life to meet someone like him. I wasn’t ready and neither was he before that magical moment in the intersection of our life stories. He sure made my daily life an adventure.

I don’t regret a thing. I fell head over heels with a most incredible man. I spent as much time with him as he could possibly endure! We shared everything and worked side by side and enjoyed all the sweetness the good life had to offer us living off the grid and living off the land.

I simply miss being with him at home On Warren Pond Farm. We had a good life.

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