Straightening Myself Out

Busy kittens can make their companions tired.

I don’t know how many of you out there cry on a regular basis. I’m not a frequent crier—and I think by and large I’m doing pretty well adjusting to being an orphan. Nevertheless, every once in a while I involuntarily turn on the waterworks. They came roaring out at about midnight a couple of nights ago.

A contributing cause for my tear fest was my adorable but sometimes maddening three-and-a-half-month-old kitten, Rhubarb. Like many babies of different species, she can’t manage to sleep through the night.

It doesn’t seem to matter what time we go to bed or how much I play with her in the evening before retiring. After three or four hours of shuteye (occasionally five if I’m really lucky!) she transforms herself from sleepy kitten to attack cat, pouncing on Truffle the Dog and me as we attempt to finish our night’s sleep.

If I lock her out of the room, wails of anguish fill the apartment. If I allow her to stay in the room, the mayhem continues until I’m ready to get up in the morning. At that point Ruby quietly curls up for a nap.

I know she will grow up soon. Meanwhile I’m perennially a bit groggy.

The other night I as was getting ready to go to bed I decide to search for the charger for one of my (too) many electronic devices. I ended up in the kitchen—not the neatest room in the house. As I lifted clean laundry to search underneath I managed to hit one of the wine glasses hanging on the rack above the kitchen counter. The small goblet fell to the ground and shattered into myriad pieces.

The broken glass wasn’t one of my late mother’s best—I’d guess that it dated from the 20th century, not the 19th—but it was graceful and attractive, with a curved cranberry cup and a clear stem. Its set was one of the few for which my mother owned twelve matching glasses. My brother and I now have eleven left.

The remaining glasses still hang in the kitchen. (They aren't this messy looking in real life; it's hard to take photos of glass!)

As I swept up the shards—or most of them; I found another just this morning—I berated myself.

I was a terrible daughter, I thought. I couldn’t take care of my mother’s things. I couldn’t even manage to put away my clean laundry—something that would have appalled her. I started crying, and for a little while, despite the dog and cat’s best efforts, I was inconsolable.

I put on my nightgown and washed my face as I cried. As I dripped down onto the bed with the animals around me, I recalled my mother’s attitude toward tears.

An eminently practical woman, she had absolutely no use for weeping. I decided that if she were looking down at me from heaven, she would more upset by the tears than by the broken glass. I have broken things all my life, and thanks to that practical streak she was pretty much resigned to the breakage.

I looked at the walls around me and noted that the pictures were all crooked. Worse than tears in my mother’s opinion were crooked pictures. She spent a lot of time adjusting them on the walls.

I got up off the bed and gently straightened the paintings. The worst offender, a portrait of me when I was 13 by M.F. Husain, looked a lot better when it wasn’t crooked.

Somehow the act of putting it into alignment it made me feel a little straighter myself. The tears subsided, and I went to sleep … at least until Miss R. decided it was time to start playing.

Lessons learned:

1. Action is better than moping.

2. Be useful rather than tearful. (This is really the same as lesson one–blame my kitten-induced fatigue!–but it sounds more positive.)

3. Put away the laundry as soon as you fold it. (This one is taking me a while to learn. A new pile has formed in the kitchen.)

4. DO NOT start search for things when you are tired. (This one I have taken to heart.)

I look--and feel--better when I'm in alignment.

12 comments on “Straightening Myself Out

  1. tut-tut says:

    what a great post—and a great portrait. It is hard to be an orphan, even at this age. I used to speak to my mother every single day on the phone. And then one day I couldn’t.

  2. Susan Hall says:

    Ah, sigh….one of lifes lessons is that it’s o.k. to cry no matter how practical you or anyone else are that says you shouldn’t require it. Deep down it helps relieve that huge pool of loss that Taffy left you. I just has to be drained a tear at a time, and boy, you had good cause for them. Those are lovely glasses, I’d have been heart sick about losing one, too. I love that straightening the pictures helped sooth you (or as I look at it, put a cork in the flood gates).

    We have a lovely new cat as well, our Maggie has just turned one as near as we can tell. She always comes to check on us around 5 a.m. usually waking one of us up and then cuddling and purrrrrrrrring til we fall back asleep. A dear friend of mine who’s had many cats says they’re hunting bed mice when the pounce on you at night….

    Hang in there, Tinkie, and please…we’re all here to listen when ever you need us. : >


  3. David R. Locke says:

    Hi Tinky, I just wanted to say that I am touched deeply by your latest posting. You were certainly very close friends with your mother, and such circumstance is one to which many others cannot lay claim. I have followed your accounts about your time with your mom in the last years of her life, and have cried many a tear myself. I hope you will publish all of this, as I think the world needs more of what it is you have shared with us so far. I was very close to my own mom, and fortunately was able to have her here where she could with dignity pass peacefully in the arms of her 3 kids.

    So I’m just letting you know that I appreciate all that has gone on that you have so well shared. And I know now that aside from your stellar musical and culinary skills you also have a heart that knows no limit in size.

    Deep peace to you……

  4. deyaffee says:

    That was absolutely beautiful , Tinky!

  5. Doris Matthews says:

    You go right ahead and cry, whenever it comes over you, ’cause that’s what you should do Tinky! Let it all out and don’t be shy about it either! My mother also had no use for weeping (what with 7 of us kids)-she’d say, “if you’re going to cry, go to bed!” and we promptly shut down the waterworks or went stomping off to our bedrooms. So, I say, cry, cry, cry and then you will feel better. Keep on keepin’ on! PS I really like that portrait of you at 13-straight or not!

  6. Ann Brauer says:

    Nothing wrong with crying or feeling like an orphan. When my studio floated I sure wanted my mother–she could make it all right. And yes, kittens do outgrow their kittenness all too soon as Tonks will attest. Meanwhile food can put the sleeping little one to sleep. Of course now the 13 year cat wants to knead me awake asking for more attention at 5 in the morning. Always something.

  7. Larry Fox says:

    Crying, and lots of it is so important to the grief process that suppressing it is not necessarily wise, despite what your dear mother may have felt about shedding tears. From my own extensive grief process of losing a life partner I am totally familiar with the lack of predictability of when those waves will hit and how long they might last. But tears are healing and are not to be ashamed of but rather embraced as a key part of the process. Let’s all cry together for Jan!

  8. Carrie Needham says:

    As a friend and fellow orphan, I understand your sad feelings. I think losing our parents is like losing the anchor on our boat and we are sent adrift. At times we feel lost and the weather gets stormy. We have to force ourselves to be brave and steer the boat using the lessons that we recall our parents taught us. It is also difficult because we don’t know what we are navigating towards. Every once in a while we find a port where we can feel safe, but as soon as we feel that way, we must set off again into the scary unknown. As time passes we are able to spend more time in the ports and are braver and more confident as we travel between them.

    Your mother was a unique and wonderful woman. So are you. It is ok for you to be yourself. I miss you both. xoxo

  9. E. Sheppard says:

    I found a book called “The Courage to Grieve” by Judy Tatelbaum. It is really good. It is natural to be sad, cry, and grieve for quite some time after the death of a loved one. I would say to be easy on yourself and not judge yourself harshly. Try to be as nice to yourself as you would be to a friend. The first three months are the hardest, the book says. Anyway, I sent good wishes your way. I believe crying is OK. Sometimes it’s painful, and I think I don’t want to cry, but it does help, and it’s a needed thing sometimes.

    I love the portrait!

  10. BumbleVee says:

    Hiya Tinky….

    Don’t worry about a few tears ….. it happens …. and I found that it happened for quite a long time. For the first 3 months after my Mom died … I cried pretty much all the time.

    She didn’t mind tears… we cried many times during the year that she was more or less waiting to die…. suddenly she would just burst into tears while we sat there on the couch talking … or were sitting in the old van sipping wine and eating crackers by the ocean … …… ..and then just as suddenly…she would say…there…I’ve had my damn good eye let’s get on with the day! And we would.

    For months after the first 3 …. I would get tears in my eyes if anybody mentioned my Mom…or asked about anything to do with her and that final year…. and even a few years later…it still would happen…. if I saw some card I would have liked for her …or saw or heard something that reminded me of something… it was silly I know… but, that’s how it was… and many days…it still is…I guess it will never stop.

    Mother’s Day is coming up… I’ve begun to hate Mother’s Day. Us kids all used to go home to visit Mom on that day… no matter where we lived. But, now… we can’t. It still makes my throat constrict. I still get tears in my eyes…. I still wish I could just pick up the phone and call her… or go to visit….. I don’t think it ever goes away Tinky. It just gets a bit different somehow after all the years. My Mom has been gone since ’98 … some days it seems a long, long time ago ….some days…it seems like yesterday that we sat there on her bed with her at the end, and then…. just were dumbstruck that somehow…she was gone. We would never hear her voice again. Our lives were forever changed in many ways…… but, we do have our own lives to live…and somehow we do carry on. Perhaps we transfer some of the love to others in our lives, or maybe that went with her and somehow, just disappeared. I don’t know. We channel our energies in other directions…. we do go on…… and if there are tears in there … big deal….. there are tears. I don’t care if I cry about it all every so often. A good cry is cathartic. When I’ve washed my face and straightened up afterwards … I just laugh and say … hah! there … now I’ve just had a good eye wash too Mom!

    hugs from your other orphaned buddy…


  11. BumbleVee says:

    What an old windbag I am! Wow…. sorry…. I just clicked post through my teary eyes and then saw that I took up half a page…hahahha….. there now I really feel better. I’m gonna finish my little cry…have a cup of tea and do some needle felting on a little pink bear.


    • tinkyweisblat says:

      Thank you all for the dear comments and support! I feel comforted more than you can know. (But I may still try not to cry!)

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