Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Winter Cleaning

This weekend the weather felt like Spring so while neighbors put up their Christmas lights Doug dragged the outdoor furniture into the garage. Until last week the '64 Avanti was in that spot. So many changes.

It was impossible to look at the furniture without thinking that a whole summer season has passed without Jimmy stretching out on the chaise lounge and telling me,

"No. We don't need new furniture. Just relax here with me. I heard
all the outdoor furniture stores are closed."

My mother-in-law has been (or should I say, my has been Mother-in-law?) nagging me to find her old photos from her wedding and 'the early years' Jimmy and his brothers were growing up. Jimmy's brother's wife had volunteered to put them all in an album.

It must be nice to have extra time like that. I have better things to do. Namely, Boston Legal, Medium, Heros, Desperate Housewives and Deal Or No Deal." Oh, and of course, The Office.

Somehow, years ago we ended up with Fanny's life in our basement. I have no problem tossing it back to her except that her black and white photos are no longer in a separate box. They got mixed with my life - in color - but not in living color - if you know what I mean, so I put off going through them.

I shook my head and wanted to tell Fanny that although my house is filled with photos of Jimmy I know they're there but I don't need a fresh rendition of "Through The Years." I wanted to tell her that. What I actually said was "Okay. I'll try to get to it this weekend."

I lied. I had no intention of going through those photos. I keep the winter coats in the same closet downstairs so I had to climb over the overflowing boxes of pictures to get my coats to bring upstairs to the coat closet. Jimmy had many more coats and jackets than anyone would have thought. He tended to wear the same one or two all the time. I guess, that's typical of a guy.

I remembered bringing his jackets downstairs last Spring after he died and thinking there's no reason to ever bring them back up again. There they were again.

A box of gloves and scarves had to be hoisted up and spilled out to change over the upstairs closet with more winter stuff. As I lifted I looked and saw a photo of Jimmy at Disney slapping five with Mickey Mouse.

I was hooked for the next four hours looking - often with a magnifying glass -how did that get in my hand? And, I saw our whole lifetime of events jumping out at me. We were happy in every one of those pictures and of course, we weren't always happy. But, when it's a bad time or a sad moment or a serious event only the paparazzi snaps a picture. For some reason they never followed us around.

When I was done I had Fanny's photos isolated in one box for her. I gave her the Jimmy photos from before he and I met. After that, I rationalized he was mine. Three boxes captured our 33 years of marriage and several before that - our engagement party at my Studio apartment in Queens, many years of opening presents at Christmas with the kids from infants to footie pajamas, around the table with family and friends at holidays, some dead, some dead to us... the kids with us on vacations, the usual times that make up our usual lives. Most moments only I'm left to remember.

Damn. All I wanted was my winter coats.