My beloved, late-husband (what a stupid term…if he is just tardy then I’ve had a very long wait and he has a lot of explaining to do.) died just over five years ago. I wrote a blog during the last part of his illness, through the sadness of his death, and for at least three years of the grief that followed. Slowly I worked my way through all that loss and dragged several readers (at least six) with me along the way. Finally I realized, as I began a tortuous spiritual exploration that I’d ranted, and mourned publicly long enough. The hole in my heart that remains will be mine forever and mine alone. I have a new transition to harangue. I have no idea where it will lead me, but again if my handful of readers are game maybe it will take us up and down some winding roads – it could be a fun adventure…but maybe not. I’m in!
My husband defected from the former communist Czechoslovakia, in a rather dramatic fashion, just before the Russian invasion in 1968 that followed the “Prague Spring.” By the time we met in 1972 his english was excellent, but there were always a few phrases that he would butcher, to my delight. Among them were:
*”When the cat is not at home – the mice, they have a ball” His version of our “When the cat’s away the mice will play.”
*”Corn on the knob” …for our “corn on the cob.”
*”White chops” – his take on wind-frosted water normally known as “white-caps”.
There are several more….some were tossed out when we were in a heated argument intended to “one-up-me” (impossible to do by the way) and of course these always resulted in my dissolving into complete hysteria, which angered him all the more. BUT my all time favorite is, “Something’s rotten on that danish” of course for our old standard, “something’s rotten in Denmark” which infers that something, somewhere is just not quite right (originates from a line in Hamlet lamenting the moral decline of Denmark). Whenever he said it I always thought of a moldy cinnamon roll.
“A whole other ball of park” was my guy’s way of indicating that we were now talking about something new – something completely different. Usually when we talk about something that is a completely different situation and often a challenging one we use the colloquialism, “a whole new ball game.” I’m sure somewhere among all of our sports idioms: “ballpark figure”, “knock it out of the park” he felt he was close enough. It never mattered because, as in the defending words of a deli-sales girl, charmed by his accent and reprimanding me when I laughed as he ordered a “bear paw”……”I knew what he meant!”
Yesterday I left the hospital after teaching my last clinical. I am retiring! While I still have about a month before it’s official I was surprised to find myself fighting back the tears. Why am I such a mushy heart? How come waves of nostalgia waft over me so often…over everything? I know that wistfulness can conjure up emotions of loss of happier times, but there is a bittersweetness about such feelings too. The recollection of such times can be generally pleasant, happy memories, but they are in the past…..and I miss them – him.
Although the facility has changed a lot over the years, including ownership/management-even the name, and largely for the better, it was a young nurse that worked in this very hospital with her dashing doctor-husband. I birthed all three of our children in this same building and returned here to teach future nurses to deliver the same quality, compassionate care that I have always valued. I hope I’ve been a good role model. If I have come even close it’s all I could hope for and more.
Retirement implies endings….AND beginnings. I need to figure it ALL out. I’ve been a nurse for a very long time. Who will I be? Where will I go? What will I do? Will I have enough? What is enough? Certainly I’ve planned for some of it….but what do I know, I’ve never done this before…alone. So – who’s with me? Shall we find out? After all, this is a whole other ball of park!!
As I checked out the brand new, sparkly, space-age Emergency Department in our hospital last week, I was thinking of what my husband would think of it. I spotted a former student, now an experienced ER nurse, leading a tour of a high-tech trauma room. I gave her a shy wave from the back. She stopped and said, “There’s Patti, she was my nursing instructor. She’s why I’m here”. It’s been quite a ride.
Here is the link to my old blog Pattis Grace Notes. My husband died in August of 2010. My solo-journey began then although I’ve never really been alone….it just feels that way sometimes.