Friday, March 11, 2011

Widowhood Space

This blog post was inspired by a great site called Each week a picture related to a theme is posted and bloggers are invited to write about it, use it in a photograph or a poem or a piece of art. The theme this week was Space. The site owner posted a photograph of Earth taken from space.

But space can mean lots of things, and the word inspired me to think of the space I live in and how it has expanded and contracted over the years.

Soon after Ralph and I married we bought a house for our blended family. It was a typical suburban three-bedroom, two-bath house, but we added another kid bedroom and a master bedroom and bath in the space that took up most of the back yard. Now each child had a bedroom, plus we used one bedroom for a play room. The house was soon crammed with three children and an assortment of pets. And I do mean assortment--dog, gerbils, guinea pig, rabbit, turtles, a short-lived iguana and two mice named Timid and Brave. Yet despite the lack of yard space and the squeaking and squawking of animals along with the children's chatter, the house never seemed crowded. We had space for books and ball and bikes, including Bryan's beloved unicycle which he rode to school. When the kids were in high school, we converted our garage into a game room and bought a pool table. Now our driveway was crowded with cars, the sounds of rock music and ringing phones filled the air, and the space was just right.

Then all three left for college. Most of the time, the house was quieter, but we still needed space for school holidays and semester breaks. His first semester at UT, Michael came home from Austin on weekends, lugging his dirty laundry. Lori returned bringing Ricky, her lab rat, and Bryan deposited his coin collection in our safe.

Suddenly our children were full-fledged adults: Lori married and attending vet school at Texas A&M, Michael working for an ad agency in New York and Bryan living on his own. The house still seemed just right.

For a while, Michael and his wife and son lived with us, and Gabriella was born during their stay. Now the rooms included baby paraphernalia and elementary school supplies. Surprisingly, our house seemed the right size, although our driveway was again a bit crowded.

Michael's family moved out and for a long time, it was just Ralph and me. And Ralph's computer, which because of his work as a consultant, was a member of the family. A quiet home, with two past-middle-age occupants. Room for Ralph's endless files, a place for me to write. Perfect.

Now Ralph is gone. I inhabit this space alone, with two cats for company. I thought I wouldn't be able to stay here on my own. The house was too large for one person, too lonely. But I've gotten used to it. And though I miss Ralph every day, I don't mind being here by myself. A couple of weeks ago, some uninvited guests arrived in the attic--squirrels or possums, I don't know which. (I hope they weren't rats). The nice people from Critter Control came and repaired the many holes that some creature with sharp teeth had gnawed.

I thought about replacing the wood parts of the house with Hardee Plank (probably around $20,000) Nope. I thought about putting the house up for sale and moving somewhere smaller. Isn't this place way too big for a widow lady and her cats?

But my pictures are all hung in the right places, I have enough bookshelves for my many books, there's a room where I see a few kids for speech therapy, I'm close to everywhere I want to, I won't sell. The house is small enough and cozy. Now, as always, my space is just right.

Welcome to my home

Entry hall: 5 generations of family history in hats

Living room

Part of The Monster, Ralph's plant that I promised not to cut down


Boo said... [Reply to comment]

it made my heart smile to read that you are comfortable in your home x

thelmaz said... [Reply to comment]

Hi, Boo. Thanks for stopping in. I haven't kept up with others' blogs this past few weeks but now it's spring break so I can. See you soon.

Meryl Jaffe said... [Reply to comment]

So glad you visited Theme Thursday!

To post there, just add your name and blog address in the "Mister Linky" space.

I look forward to more,

Griefcase said... [Reply to comment]

I loved reading your post on space. Thank you for sharing your beautiful journey. I am a widow, also, and know the agony in making that important decision.

All best wishes, always.

Linda Della Donna
Founder, Director


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