When I was eight years old my dear nurse, Emily left to get married. She had taken care of me since I was around eighteen months of age and was in most respects my second mother. She was a practical nurse. That meant besides looking after me, she helped with household chores as well as driving me where I might need to go. She was a devoted caretaker and when she left I missed her sorely. While my own mother loved me dearly, she loved me in her own way. Unlike Emily she was not a physically affectionate person. Also she had much higher expectations of me than Emily did.
When I was twelve, my friend and classmate Sally went away to boarding school. A bookish, unathletic, somewhat plump child, I had no interest in the things my classmates did, and neither did she. As a result from the third to the seventh grade we formed a team of two, and I defended her from the bullies that taunted her for her shyness. I missed her sadly. She lived in a big house by the ocean and our idyllic summers were spent swimming and playing tennis in her private court. Her freezer always held a tub of ice cream and we could make cones when we wanted. When we reached sixteen and I began dating, despite my efforts to remain close, we drifted apart. She had been my best and only friend. She remained distant.
Once I was married and had children I became friends with woman whose two boys were around the age of my two girls. We all went everywhere together. She had a wonderful voice and we used to sing folk songs at our children’s school. We even performed in a contest. Very close, we spoke on the phone almost daily. Then for some reason she became angry with me and disappeared from my life. For months I was devastated. Later on I had another friend I went to the beach with each day. Sadly, after several years she went back to Germany and never returned. By then I was beginning to learn what it was to lose someone I loved, and how to handle it; I was able to recover faster.
Throughout my long life I have had many opportunities to learn to live with loss. I had to come to terms with son’s death when he was twenty-eight, and as I grew older, my parents passing. More lately have come the deaths of others I loved. As time has gone on, these experiences have helped me learn to let loved ones go with a more peaceful heart. I have discovered that I do not need to stop thinking about them, nor do I need to regret their absence. I can take the images of them together with the memories of our time together and put them lovingly in a special album I keep in my heart. Then when I wish to I can open it, turn the pages and smile as I remember with joy the good times we had and the love we shared.
Once upon a time it was quite usual for a household to have someone who was paid to help out. this person might live in or come in to work there during the day. There were not as many conveniences as we have today, and my mother was happy to have someone to help with the household tasks as well as my care and do what she couldn’t always manage to get done.
I don’t remember how old I was when Emily came to live with us. I believe I was around two or three to help my mother around the house and also look after me. She also taught me a great deal about being tidy. I loved her dearly and she loved me as well. I still have many pictures she took of me when I was small. We did many things together and had lots of fun. When I was eight she left to get married. I missed her very much. I remember thinking if I was very good and kept my room the way she liked, maybe she would come back.
I believe Emily’s encouragement inspired my fondness for the tidiness I still practice today. I can remember her encouraging me to put my toys in a row, lining them up neatly. Later, when I was older I enjoyed putting my doll house in order, arranging and rearranging the furniture and putting the dolls that lived there where they belonged. As an only child until I was eight and a half, I had to make use of my imagination to entertain myself. Both Emily and my mother encouraged me to be creative. I made the stories and plays I wrote into small books, carefully sewed together. Rebuses–stories with pictures for some of the words were favorites to make.
Today I also prefer order because it helps me find things. If I know where I put something I can easily find what I need when I need it. Toward that end I try to put whatever I use often back in its designated space as soon as I am finished with it. Because I feel it is such a waste of time to have to hunt for things, I have special places to put important items like car keys, eye glasses, pocketbooks, shoes, and so on. I also make lists of what I need to do, another form of making and keeping order. Being organized is an aspect of tidiness. A difficulty with this is that not everyone is equally tidy.
Stephen, unlike me needs to have things where he can see them or put his hand on them easily. This leads to piles and untidy heaps of items that to me are all higgly piggly with no sense of order. It also makes it difficult for Stephen to see what he needs when he needs it, so that I often have to help him to locate items that get buried. He does not deliberately bury items, it just happens that there are too many things of immediate interest in one place. Still, after 38 years of being together I have learned to relax and allow for his way of keeping things available. At the same time, I rejoice that I can usually find what I want relatively quickly.