I can’t remember exactly when I started covering court cases exclusively, but I’m guessing it’s around nine years.
It came about because I had a limited number of hours to work, and most of those were at the office putting together the page that announced weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, social news, that sort of thing. As I covered court more and more, I lost interest in the other – fast.
Thing is, we were getting scooped big time by another newspaper. That reporter lived about two minutes from the courthouse and was very, very good. I lived 16 miles away and was, in my opinion, not too bad.
It didn’t take long to understand the format, and my interest in cases grew. However, my competitor and I remained on non-speaking terms.
I don’t remember when that changed but it did. Eventually we became (and still are) good friends. We both love cats, love to write, and though we do have some differences, we are more alike than I thought.
We shared a lot over those years. She understands, as only another writer can, what I’m talking about. She comforted me when Gary passed away, and she showed concern over our missing son. She rejoiced with good news.
We could sit in companionable silence or talk as much as we wanted between court cases. We had interesting trials – some were really interesting. It came to the point where, if one of us wasn’t there, we would update the other of what had happened, or if a new court event was coming up.
We worried about each other if one of us was late or didn’t show.
We became friends. Good friends.
I miss her, and I’m thankful we were able to see the good in each other. No more competition for us, not anymore.
It looked to be a quiet ride home the other night. A long day, comfortable temps and pleasant company made for a relaxing time together with my favorite guy.
He ate supper earlier, and I was looking forward to a burger and vanilla shake.
The hum of the tires and the hours of work I’d put in almost put me to sleep, but then I heard, “So, what would you do with two million?”
I smiled. This is a game we play now and then, the couple who turned pale at the thought of replacing their central heating system last month. (Side note: There is still no furnace because instead, we asked for warmer-than-normal weather until summer. You’re welcome.)
“I’d want to move,” I said.
“Not to Maine. Not there,” he replied.
“No, that’s not on my list anymore.” I’ve had enough of harsh winters, snow up to my arthritic knees, and ice to send me skidding. No need to compound problems. Can you imagine your furnace going toes up in mid-February in Maine? I shudder at the thought–pun intended.
Since I know what critters and insects crawl and creep around these parts, I said I’d be happy moving outside of Peoria, or maybe Galesburg. I don’t want to have to get used to new “things”. I want a big bookstore and coffeehouse closer to home. And somebody I know should have a choice of home improvement places, though if we were that well off I’m not sure what he would do there.
“We could go on long, long vacations,” he said softly.
I wondered what we would do with the giant Lab waiting for me at home to share my supper. I needn’t have made the effort because this came next: “We’ll get a big SUV with leather interior, and I’ll put a kennel in back for Sarah.”
Ah, his buddy would travel in style too. “We’d have to give her something for car sickness,” I told him. “She’s already barfed in the car once.”
He laughed. “We’ll give her something to make her sleep,” he said.
Turns out he’s had his eye on a really nice home right here in town. That would be fine too, in a lot of ways. We talked a bit more, about a large, fenced-in back yard and more things we don’t have. We would have a home where we’ve lived most of our lives, and we would travel to places that are nice to visit, like Maine in the fall as the leaves are turning.
We made it to town and headed out to pick up supper. Sarah greeted us at the door and took an immediate interest in the bag with the burger inside. The house was still warm from soaking up the day’s sunshine, and neither of us gave a thought to the long-gone furnace. I guess we were too wrapped up in dreams of the possibilities of a windfall that would give us the freedom to do whatever we wanted.
Thing is, all we wanted to do at that moment in time was sit at the kitchen table, share supper with Sarah, and talk about our day. Talk about being well off.
“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” (Sophia Loren)
When I turned 30, I thought the world was going to end. I was upset about hitting that milestone; I remember I cried about it all that day. Of course the tears turned to joy when one of my gifts turned out to be a kitten, so all wasn’t lost.
Turning 40, and then 50 didn’t bum me out much. After 50 I sort of kept forgetting my age but boy, when 60 hit, well, I’m still not over it and that happened last September.
Most of us, once we hit a certain age, will sit back and wonder what we would have done (or not done) over the years.
There are so many things I would try to undo, there isn’t space enough to print them here. But, oh, what I wish I had done.
Becoming an artist
No, not the kind in a funny beret, tilted “just so”, wearing a paint-splattered over-sized white shirt. I would have a special room, like a studio, with floor-to-ceiling windows so the light would hit my easel just right. Canvases would line the walls, stacked one on top the other, and I would specialize in portraits of dogs.
I’m fascinated with movies about excavating, whether it’s dinosaurs or mummies or whatever. I would have to have no fear of bugs, obviously, and very good knees because one needs to get down to the ground and gently dig and brush to uncovered buried treasure.
Outer space – the final frontier. Recently I read that over 70,000 people had signed up for a one-way ticket to Mars. Hey, read some Ray Bradbury or watch some Twilight Zone. You may want to re-think your trip. Seriously, though, I would love to leave Earth’s orbit and circle this gorgeous planet of ours. And who wouldn’t want to see our home base from the moon?
I have been a teacher, of sorts, but I would love to have spent a career with little ones. When kids are kids, and they haven’t been exposed much to the harsher elements of life and their minds are open to all the good life has to offer.
Yeah, I know. Still, there must be almost two dozen books around my office that have yet to be published. Even with today’s ease of putting out a digital version of the Great American Novel, it does take time and lots and lots of editing. Hopefully, some day, I’ll have a bit of time left to make this one dream come true.
In the meantime, I offer you these words of funny wisdom:
“Maybe it’s true that life begins at fifty. But everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread out.” (Phyllis Diller)
Ain’t it the truth.
I used to have the most vivid dreams. And there was one recurring dream, where I walked through a house that kept getting bigger.
That house was always being “worked on”. There were many rooms and as I walked through I imagined how I would decorate and use each one.
I think the latest one, maybe last year, was an upgrade of sorts. Someone, I think it was our son, Clint, was installing tech-type stuff. That was part of a kitchen upgrade for some reason.
I mention dreams because I haven’t had a dream where I can see Gary’s face. The closest I got was a dream where I was at his mom’s house and he and his dad were across the street where Vonnie, our favorite aunt, used to live. I could see Gary and his dad in a small crowd outside Vonnie’s house so I headed over there.
I don’t recall having any trouble or pain walking there. As I got closer I saw both guys turn to the left and go inside a brightly-lit room. Still, I could only see the backs of their heads. Dad was wearing a cap. Both were standing a little ways inside the bright room and for some reason I knew I wasn’t supposed to go inside.
I don’t interpret dreams. I don’t know how. I can only guess what it means, if anything, and I’m reluctant to do even that. Maybe I’m not ready to see his face, maybe it would be too much to bear.
I figure I’ll see him when I’m ready, and I’m okay with that.
My sweetheart, on our deck. He began to like using his digital camera.
I’m as surprised as anyone else that I continue to cry every day. Gary died on March 5th last year. I’ve lost some of my memory immediately following that morning and once when I tried to bring it back, I went into a full-body shudder unlike anything I’ve ever felt. It scared the stuffing out of me and I haven’t tried to recover any of those memories since.
Time keeps on flowing, though, and a lot has changed. We had 45 years together that I wouldn’t change for all the money in the world. He was my one and only. And he wholeheartedly supported me in my writing dreams so I want to pull myself together and get on with it.
I have a lot to work with that I didn’t before. I was quite hamstrung by where I worked. In one way, as a reporter, I needed to keep the info succinct. Get to the point and don’t pontificate. As an aspiring novelist or memoirist, being succinct doesn’t work. Those two sides were always fighting and I had to give up one of them, and it wasn’t the one that paid the bills.
As a reporter I had to remain unbiased and constantly aware that I represented the company in anything I did or said. That is no longer the case, and I have a lot to write about. It’s something I look forward to.
I’m thankful I kept this site. I’ll go back to see what else I’ve written here, but for now it was important to get started.
First, I was worried we would not be approved for Bernadette. In filling out the adoption application I had to note that we had indeed returned Blacki to the Kewanee Humane Society. I thought it might not matter why, just that we had done so. I felt like a failure then, and it still hurts, especially when Blacki’s photos keep popping up as Facebook memories.
I got nervous and called to see if all was well, and, thank God it was. Now, about that weather forecast….
I knew neither of us were going to be able to drive to the Geneseo location. We’d never been there and it was out in the country. Add a never-ending snow to the mix and you get the idea. So did my stomach. I was freaking out a bit. I had my kitten, but then again, I didn’t.
All I knew was, I wanted her here. Her *stuff* arrived: a new bed, litter boxes, litter (thanks again to my dearest friends, Dorothy and Tom!), toys, food and a cat carrier. The only thing missing was Bernadette.
I checked out available rides through the Henry County Transportation service. Yes! I set up an appointment for Friday, late afternoon. The hours they were open in Geneseo was 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
I kept a wary eye on the forecast. It just kept getting worse. On Thursday I learned that the place wasn’t going to open on Friday due to the weather so I called my ride and asked about that afternoon – could I set it up instead of waiting until next week? (Turns out the weekend would have been a bust, too.)
Yes! A ride came at the right time and we set out. The weather got worse the closer we got to Geneseo. We found our destination, I got out and went in to meet Bernadette for the first time.
When she came out, I fought back tears. She was everything I thought she would be – and more. She’s gentle, soft, beautiful. She purrs – a lot.
The storm grew worse and we headed home. Bernadette didn’t make a peep all the way home. I brought her inside, put her carrier on the foyer floor (Gary was in his man cave a few feet away) and opened the door to her pet taxi. Bernadette immediately headed for under my desk, darted into the kitchen, went under the table – then she disappeared. For two days.
Cue the freaking out again. Gary eventually asked if I made the whole thing up. What kitten? He saw no evidence of one, except for litter pan, toys, cat food and water. No kitten, no meows. Nothing.
I had to open her carrier and give her the run of a two-story house with a gazillion hidey-holes for a tiny Bernadette. I alternated between fear and heartache. I cried. I prayed. I worried.
On Saturday morning Gary announced he saw evidence of a used litter box. We heard a “meow”. And after searching two floors, under and around, Gary found her.
She was less than a foot away from his chair in the man cave. She was securely tucked under the freezer and we had a whale of time getting her out, but that didn’t happen until Saturday night.
I picked up our kitten, walked to the living room and held her close. She alternated between tucking her head under my arm and staring with wide eyes at all she’d been missing. She purred almost constantly. I felt her warmth, her softness and gazed into the most beautiful kitten eyes I’ve ever seen.
Eventually I had to let her down. She walked around a bit, sniffed at her new bed, then took off. We haven’t seen her since, and it’s Sunday afternoon.
We’ve blocked off her previous hiding place. I saw things moved around a bit back there and have a feeling she’s nearby. I ordered cat treats and am hoping I can lure her out again, soon.
For now, though, I will close my eyes and remember how it felt to hold our Bernadette. And when I get the chance, I will post pictures of the most beautiful kitten you’ve ever seen.
We found out Tuesday that a sweet kitten currently named “Pomona” will be coming to live with us. We (especially I) can’t wait. No patience, remember?
Her goodies are on the way and should be delivered by FedEx tomorrow. Her carrier should be here Friday morning. We’re to pick her up and bring her home Friday afternoon.
We have a ride lined up, and we’re good to go. Except….
Have you heard the weather forecast? If you have, and you wouldn’t mind, we could use your prayers to hold off that heavy snowfall until after Sweetums gets here.
Surprised by her nickname? Gosh, I’ve given all our fur babies nicknames over the years. I’ve had a suggestion or two from a friend of mine – and yes, they were hilarious. I might even use them a time or two. Thanks, Anna.
We’ll have a new bed, toys, her favorite food and especially two loving humans waiting to welcome a very special kitty into our home.
I can’t wait to settle in with a good book, a cup of tea and a sleepy kitten.