Every time in the last few months that I voiced apprehension about going on alone, Marv would simply say, “You’ll do fine.”
It’s a month today that he passed away around four in the morning on July 25. I cannot describe the last month in any coherent way. But the recurring theme in my head has been “You’ll do fine.” Even after I broke the garbage disposal, forgot to take in the mail for the first three days, and neglected to put out the garbage. The first cost me a two-hundred dollar visit from a plumber, the second surprised me with a letter from the IRS that cost a few thousand (due to a miscalculation), and the third cost me a fifty-dollar visit from Stan Clean-a-Can because my garage smelled like a city dump. I could not have that stench as I was expecting over thirty out-of-town guests for dinner the night before Marv’s Celebration of Life Service on August 11.
As I took in each event (catastrophe at that point, really), I reminded myself, “You’ll do fine.”
Then, a week before the service, I broke out in a bright red rash on my face. Why now? After a next-day doctor’s appointment, I was relieved to find out the culprit was probably a SPF 40 sunscreen I’d used on my first day at our pool all summer. Antibiotic cream cleared the rash up…and also wiped out the color on the edges of my new pretty blue sheets and pillowcase.
Take a deep breath, Lois, you’ll do fine.
Three days before the service, I had a routine teeth cleaning and a filling fell out. The dentist had no time to refill all that week. But they worked me in for a temporary.
Take a deep breath, Lois, you’ll do fine.
Then people began arriving for the service. Marv had told many on our Farewell Hug Tours not to come–he had come to them to say good-bye, so I was in for a heartwarming surprise when there were over seventy of us to process into church to the majestic organ sounds of Ode to Joy.
My daughter orchestrated the food for the weekend, starting with the gang on Friday night, then Saturday night, and Sunday noon. She’d baked her usual goodies–fruitcake and oatmeal raisin cookies (Marv’s favorites), and other sweets, ordered pulled pork with all the sides, and used up left overs from the dinner after the Celebration of Life Service where the funeral home had arranged catering of roast beef, mashed potatoes, salad, and corn, while the church women added apple pie and ice cream.
The tables at the church were decorated with John Deere green napkins and the centerpiece was a cut apple display honoring Marv’s apple picking and applesauce-making hobby. I’ve heard Darlene from church was responsible for that personal touch. Thanks, Darlene!
After Marv’s service, my son and daughter-in-law stayed as their son and my grandson got married in the area the following Saturday. My daughter-in-law paid tribute to Marv with decorating the tables for rehearsal dinner with items from his John Deere collection. The couple being married honored Marv with having the grandparents walk into the sanctuary to his favorite song, also sung at his service, “I come to the garden alone…” As I walked down the aisle on my grandson’s arm, I unsuccessfully fought back tears.
Then everybody left. But not before my son walked me through all the paperwork new widows must do, made me a new desk for my study, and installed new faucets in my master bath. My daughter-in-law discovered a new skill–unscrewing and taking apart the joint desks that Marv had made for us when we moved to Sioux Falls two years ago. I no longer need adjacent work stations.
There’s much more that has happened in the last month. But my mind is in a muddle, so the rest will have to trickle out when it trickles. Meanwhile, I will shop this afternoon for a new desk chair to go with my new desk (a replica, by the way, of a desk Marv made for our daughter years ago–a white melamine 8′ x 30″ board placed on two-drawer file cabinets), and a new set of pots and pans. Now that I must cook for myself, my son says I need new ones. Seems his dad nearly wore out our current set, but being thrifty as he was, probably saw no reason to replace. They still work, right?
So, I’m moving forward because time doesn’t stop for me. I must take each day as it comes. Yesterday was a visit to the zoo with my daughter and little grandchildren. My daughter suggested this picture; I must learn to fly with new wings.
Take a deep breath, Lois. You’ll do fine.
Marjorie M Ecker said:
Beautiful as always!! YOU WILL DO FINE, have done so much already!! Marge
Lois Roelofs said:
I’m glad I have you as a nearby role model!
roger van buren said:
Well, this report was fine! Very fine. So was he right? I look back and remember the guy as a kid. He was always optimistic and so I never saw him very worried and then always thought there had to be a way-just as he said so recently! But I know. I can’t picture being the one left. One day at a time I guess.
Marianna Crane said:
Your post, both comic and sad, is an indication of your wonderful hold on the complexities of life (and death) and that will serve you well as you move forward. I have no doubt that Marv was right. You will do fine.
Lois Barliant said:
You are doing well! Marv had reason for his confidence. It’s my recollection that he did a lot to prepare you for your being without his presence circumstance. I’m sure that you are aware of him throughout the day–certainly every time you find yourself saying “you’ll do fine.”
The John Deere pillow goes so well with the spread–even with the theme of flowers growing in profusion.
Thank you for sharing these moments with us.
Lynn Rosack said:
You are so right; time doesn’t stop for those left behind. Marv’s loving words “You’ll do fine” show he understood this wonderful life is for the living. One day at a time.
Just one day at a time and remember to breathe. And from one who has been there twice, you can do this.
V.J. Knutson said:
Your story touches me so deeply, Lois. While you write lightly about all that you had to face in the days and weeks after Marv’s passing, I can imagine how catastrophic it must have been, and yet, you pulled through. I love that he left you with a mantra to get through each moment. Thanks for checking in and letting us know how you are doing. Hugs.
QP and Eye said:
… it is like Marv is beside you encouraging you to move forward: You’ll do fine. It sounds like you are too. Getting out and about doing ‘normal’ stuff even when perhaps you don’t feel all that normal on the inside. It is a process and I too believe you will do fine. Love and hugs 🙂 Linda x
Mary Hutchings Reed said:
Nice piece, Lois. You are such an inspiration!
Julie Wright said:
I so enjoyed our visit with you and appreciated you letting me in and accepting me as family. It was so great to meet some of the Roelofs and some of the Hoitengas. I agree with everything you have said as in a previous life I also had to navigate alone while raising two young children. It’s not always easy, and even now, thirteen years after Rick’s death, I still have moments where I just break down and cry because I miss him, and that’s ok. I truly believe you will be fine. Love you lots ❤️
Your wingspan is enormous, Lois! Marv knew it and now you are proving him right.
Linda Keane said:
Your ability to write with so much honesty and depth about your experiences is a rare gift. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Lois Roelofs said:
Thanks, Linda. I believe it’s all the thoughts and prayers, like yours, that are sustaining me.