I didn’t find my rhythm, but a rhythm found me. Practicing how to prepare meals, learning how to iron shirts and picking up on all of the things that Mr. Walton can’t accomplish in time, I was also building a pattern. It is the most considerate that I have ever been for anyone besides myself, in years.
Introduce more technology than he knows what to do with, but quickly leans to do well. Roku, Netflix, LG Tones to replace the guy who was always broadcasting calls from mom on speakerphone, the replacement parts he needs, the software to look in to his late wife’s locked iphone, the 3DS that admittedly sits more than gets used because ‘Mario is gay’ and ‘where are all of the shooter games’…I guess not everything translates.
Wake up when he does. Stumble downstairs and listen to ‘Breaking Bad’ playing from the den while you make a lunch. Put the food into the little dome-top, construction worker style box I found for him to replace the plastic sacks he had always used. Slip in a quote, this time, one of his own profound lines of wisdom.
“Fuckin’ A, swear to God.” –D.Walton
Feel happy when strangers approach you to compliment on the appearance of your couple hood, whether it’s because you ‘look cute together’ or because you’re bickering in a grocery store and everyone around you is laughing, insisting it’s love… then nonchalantly stroll off in to the void when he tells those people, who have just seen you enter their scene as a twosome, that his wife just died.
Oh, you must be the redheaded whore! It’s a pleasure to meet you.
Go with him to the radiology lab because he thinks his side pain could be cancer. Write in the journal, already filled with things about God’s love and the occasional torn out page, why you are there and about the TV show you caught Mr. Walton up on.
He enjoys ‘The Walking Dead’ and I believe it’s because people lose loved ones to a zombie outbreak and nothing is the same ever again – the tomorrow they anticipated is forever gone. I catch him wiping away tears as the main character, a sheriff, leads his pack of survivors through to the uncertain, unknown…
When I look at him I see a leader who is lost but a leader still. That’s why, when I see him struggle, I think, “Keep going, sheriff. I need you.”
Laugh with him later about how they neglected to tell him that the chalky sludge he was required to drink for his scan, would make him suddenly have to shit uncontrollably. In my car. Much later. In fact, we don’t laugh about that yet. His pride is an obstacle.
Take back a shirt because it says ‘fitted’ and he needs ‘classic fit’. Find better colors than the ones that Call Moms Cell selected from the Easter Parade Palette. When you get your schedule wrong and arrive at work too early, refuse to go home because you know his mother is there and still refuses to look upon you for the blasphemous way you came in to his life.
Drive aimlessly for hours, considering the concept of ‘home’, ‘hope’, and ‘worth it’.
“You don’t want to disrupt the balance of the universe. I love that about you,” he will offer, hearing of the afternoon I spent in hot parking lots, crying over how nothing ever seems to be working out.
When you warn him about the seemingly impending doom and he feels like you “threatened to leave”, find yourself speechless when he asks, “Notice anything different about the room” – and her photos are no longer on the mantle.
Act like you don’t notice, because you hadn’t. You were trying to look past them for months, anyway. Give him some credit and understand that he’s trying. Don’t push.
When you walk in to the formal dining room to water the plants, it takes a couple visits before you look up on the tall dresser and realize…the photos were never taken down. They were just moved.
Wonder if you ought to push harder, then…just don’t. You’re tired and officially know nothing, again.
Pick up the dry cleaning. Clean the house. Gather trash for him to push to the curb. Get better at ironing. Move some things around in the laundry room that cause him to bitch a fit, because he is neurotically obsessive compulsive, and have his mother insisting “that girl has an agenda, Danny. I KNOW it.”
She still doesn’t know that you have been sleeping in the same room. Always.
Try to look past the tacky Disney décor that She saw fit to put in every direction. Every Pooh bear, every silly, gaudy cartoon porcelain thing will be like he’s screaming ‘Team Dead Wife’. Pledge allegiance to The Mouse.
Let him take you out. Let him show you how to pick up the golf ball before the last hole swallows it and run over to the other side of the course and play more putt-putt for free. Roll your eyes when he says “Let me teach you something”, because he always says that, and love to hate him a little when he proceeds to make a hole in one.
Bring him to absurd places that he thought was beyond him. When the ‘Tiled Kilt’ waitress brings him a ‘blow job’ shot and everyone insists he takes it without using his hands, he will abide and they will all cheer. And when some of it proceeds to come out his nose on to the bar, they will cheer more loudly for him than before.
Smirk silently when you hear him say, “Mom, I can’t hear you; I’m at Hooters” and all you hear on the other end is Old Woman Screaming.
When he tosses the neighborhood picnic flyer away, pick it back up. Uncrumple it. Write a check for the two of you to attend and bring canned goods for Forgotten Harvest. When they call you and ask you to run the children’s games, say OK. Include Mr. Walton, who needs to get out and make friendly with the community. He will tug of war, speak through the megaphone, blow his whistle and everyone will love him for it.
You will bake a peach and pineapple upside down cake for the bakeoff and win that mother fucker. It will have to do with the power outage leaving many without ovens, but you made your entry ahead of time. You deserved to win, anyway.
When I saw the Disney towels in the other room, I suggested he give them to the little girls next door. This is them looking at their new reflections in the garage hutch.
Do so many things together with so much curiosity and good intention that he has to eventually admit that he is moving on, having fun and finding parts of himself that he had lost long before he lost anyone else.
When he’s off to work, open his closets and hold shirts up to ties until you coordinated a beautiful suit. Hang it on his bathroom door to save him a few minutes the following morning. When he asks where the ‘hook’ came from, you know he always means to ask if it’s something that came from you or something you found in his house of wonders.
Of the things that are yours – which he is slowly learning, are more than he realizes, answer, “I don’t remember. Too long ago.”
Wonder, when you see him moving on to the white coffee mug with black scrolls across the top, if he realizes that’s not another one of his late wife’s mugs that he has taken a custom to. It’s one of yours… but don’t ask him if he knows. When you feel brave enough to test and see, just say…
“That’s a really nice looking mug.” And decide in advance, when and if he says, “It’s my wife’s…”
How you are going to respond in this delicate relationship that flies by too quickly but changes so slowly, the two of you tend to overlook it.