I don't have many trick-or-treat memories, but we did make our own costumes, and I remember dressing as a hobo once when I was about twelve. What I remember best about Halloween was the homemade popcorn balls Mrs. West made. She lived next door to my friend Mara, and we would sometimes try to sneak by to get two of them!
I enjoy being home to hand out candy to kids the in the neighborhood now and like seeing them have fun. This year will be different, in that I've made up individual treat bags of candy that we'll put on a table out by the driveway. I think most of our neighbors are doing the same thing--they've been posting their plans on Facebook. Since our neighborhood has a lot of kids, it should be a busy evening, in spite of Covid.
One other fun Halloween activity this year was helping my granddaughter and her parents sew their costumes. They're all going to be Yip Yips from Sesame Street. I didn't remember them, but they are supposed aliens and just say "Yip. Yip. Uh Huh, Yip!" Marc sent a video of him in action in his costume. Funny!
Happy Halloween, everyone!
I have fond memories of Halloween when I was a kid. My sister and I were usually princesses. A friend of my mother had given us some old party dresses to play in. They were very fancy and frilly, and what had been knee length on her was floor length on us. They were too big around of course, but my mother cinched them in around the waist with a big sash. We thought we were beautiful!
In those days there were no parental escorts. The neighborhood kids all roamed for blocks to go trick-or-treating. Everyone knew all of us and there was no concern about safety. I remember that the sheriff’s house was always decorated the best, and his wife sat on the porch dressed like a witch and stirring a big cauldron. It was all great fun.
After trick-or-treating, we would go next door, where one of my best friends lived. Her name was Cynthia. Her mother would make us hot chocolate and we would drink it while devouring a sizeable portion of our candy. It seems funny in retrospect that the drink of choice was chocolate. I’m sure we were on a sugar high for hours!
When you live in the country, and each house is 1/2 mile away, there is no trick or treating. Instead, the mothers in our valley organized an annual Halloween party at the township hall, where we could dress up, bob for apples (I hated doing this!!!) and get a small bag of candy. The one thing I always looked forward to at the party was the storytelling by our neighbor mom, Jo Olson. We would be blindfolded and sitting in a circle while Jo read about goblin guts, and passed around spaghetti, or witches’ eyes popping out of their heads, and passed around large grapes for us to feel. We’d squeal every time.
Our costumes were usually our ballet recital outfits or pirate clothes. No one bought outfits, or even made them in our Valley. And our teeth never rotted from getting too much candy!
But one year, when I was 13, a friend of mine from town asked me to go trick or treating with her. I almost said NO, because I was too old to do that. But because I’d never been trick or treating, she persuaded me to go with her. It was okay, but at every house I thought they were judging me for being too old, and I really didn’t enjoy it. How often has guilt taken away a sense of gladness — too many times.
My most enjoyable Halloweens have been watching children come to our house and politely ask for a treat. Their smiles light up the dark cold night.
What I fear for the future is a world where we can’t ever be physically close to others. Covid 19 will eventually go away, but others will come, and they are telling us that this is the new normal. No shaking hands, no hugs (just to intimate family.) We are already so far apart, this physical parting will just accelerate that. To live with the fear of getting too close to others is horrible. I feel very bad for the younger generation.
I also fear that capitalism has overshadowed democracy, and it has become a place where everyone always questions your motives for doing good, or for caring. Maybe I am just tired of this quarantine, but I don’t like this new normal.
I’m grateful that I don’t have fears that I had at a younger age, such as fear of poverty or unemployment. I no longer fear messing my kids up, as they turned out ok without me. I’m not really afraid of death, but I fear the things that might precede it: disability, pain, and dementia. I have vivid memories of my mother’s last years as she sank into dementia and lost more of herself every day. I think if I couldn’t remember people or my own history, it would be like not existing. I notice that I frequently can’t think of words and it scares me. I fear the loss of my husband or one of my children. I’ve experienced loss but never of that magnitude. I don’t know how I’d make it through. It seems to me that getting older requires increasingly more courage and faith. I hope I have enough of both.
I don’t normally think of myself as an anxious, fearful person, but maybe I’m very good at denial. Of course, throughout my life I’ve had the usual fears for my children and aging parents, of starting a new job, or moving to a new place, but those fears did not rule my life. Not since the death of my husband have fears weighed so heavily on my mind.
Now I worry about when I will be able to go visit my children who live over 1000 miles away. Fortunately, I was able to make a trip to North Carolina this summer to spend time with my oldest son and family, but it has been almost a year since I’ve seen the other son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in Syracuse. Because they both live so far away, I have anxiety about whether I should sell my house and move to Raleigh. But then I think about how stressful moving is, and how I would have no other social contacts, especially with the isolation that we all now face.
So, as you can see, it’s a vicious cycle of fears that could become overwhelming. When I finally take a deep breath, I can concentrate on my blessings, which truly are more numerous that the anxieties. A life of gratitude is more difficult during this pandemic, but I will continue to try.
I fear a lot things, at least a little bit. I fear uncertainty, pain, and public speaking. I fear running out of time to finish this book I'm working on. I fear what may happen in our country if the wrong people get elected.
What I've probably feared most throughout my life, though, is not being prepared. There's nothing worse than being surprised by unpleasant or unfortunate events and expected to respond appropriately on the spot. This particular fear really worked against me when I was teaching. Standing in front of a class full of teenagers without anything prepared is worse than death to me. I never was good at "winging it." What this meant was that I sometimes spent three or four hours preparing for a 50-minute lesson. When I taught eight different subjects, that amounted to 48 hours of class instruction to prepare for each week. No wonder I was exhausted!
I spend a lot of time preparing for things that never happen, and prepare for several possible scenarios related to a single event. What if it happens this way? Or what if they ask this question? I prepare for each possibility to save myself the embarrassment of not being prepared, of not having the right thing to say when it needs to be said.
Neurotic? Maybe . . . a little. Okay, maybe a lot. I should have been a Boy Scout. Their motto is "Be Prepared," and I'm the poster child of preparation!
When the topic was first mentioned, the first thing that came to mind for me is to have my other child die. She has had some serious medical issues over the years and a major surgery last year. I don't know how I would get through or beyond that. I already know what it is like to lose a child. I don't want to face that.
Another scary thing for me is financial insecurity. I have been through a scary time with this, made it through, and it may be unrealistic, but it is still there. In the past, I lost significant sleep concerning this. Since I took charge of my own finances, it has subsided quite a bit. An important piece for me is that I try to live one day at a time and leave the cares of today when today is done. It is so admirable and I'd like to be able to say I am really good at it. That would be a lie. It does help to have a program that helps me stay focused on that and a spouse who is able to roll with whatever comes.
I don't generally fear dying, but I do fear what I might have to go through to get there. I am not good at pain. I don't like things that move fast in the night, like mice or other things that might startle me. I am fortunate that I don't spend a lot of time feeling scared and I am not fond of people who like to try to scare me. I believe, that whatever happens, the resources will be provided in one way or another to get through each day.
I am a GREAT denier (is that a word) someone who can hide from an obvious truth longer than most anyone else. So when I was challenged to think about what I fear, it was tough. I started writing about Chris and felt that I was writing his eulogy. I talked about his life, what he had accomplished against great odds.
But that isn't my story to tell. His son, Nathan, and his brother will have to tell that story.
My story is about my fear, and that is: what comes next? In the last 3 years Chris has begun having trouble with memory and word finding. We spend so much time together I really didn't realize how often I complete sentences for him when he can't remember the word. If I don't do that he flounders and it is painful to watch. He can't use his cell phone anymore to make or answer calls. A computer is no longer a part of his daily life, he doesn't remember how to use it or what he would use it for.
He can walk short distances, around our house, to the car, into the barber shop for his weekly shave ( his hands shake so badly he can't shave himself, so a barber shave is a treat). But to walk down to the street requires sitting on his walker to catch his breath.
The bar is set really low. As long as he can get out of bed, stand pivot into a wheel chair we can manage here in our home. Our setup is such that a wheelchair can move around the casita.
So I stuff my fear, and concentrate on living just this day. After all, that is all I have and I can live it by paying attention to my attitude and remembering to be grateful for the good days, and friends who sustain me on the journey.
I don't remember my dreams often, though I'm sure I must dream every night. Unless I awaken in the middle of a particularly emotional scene (or one in which I need to use the bathroom) I don't remember them.
I've been revising my memoir the past few months, though, and this is very difficult and sometimes emotional work. I often wake up at 3:00 or 4:00 and begin brainstorming about solving a problem in a scene or a chapter. Or I think about the feedback I got from a former instructor and editor who read my entire messy manuscript. There is still a lot of work ahead. Her most important piece of advice is to allow myself vulnerability to go deeper into the emotional scenes. That's pretty scary for someone who hates to be vulnerable. I'm okay; really I am. Couldn't be better . . .
The next few months, while I dig deep into my heart to pull up all the pain, the hurt, and the fears will likely cause some nightmares. But there's no hope for it--I've got to get the story told. I've heard the best way to confront fear and shame is to name it. Well, I've got a lot of name-calling ahead of me.