Playing ‘catch-up’

By Dorothy Swart Fleshman January 13, 2012 05:29 pm

It is already well into January and here I am still trying to play “catch-up.” It doesn’t work, you know.

Long ago I should have sent out letters and cards — anniversary, new baby cards, birthday, Christmas, congratulations, get-well, sympathy, thank yous, thinking of you and wedding. All in alphabetical order, my greetings cards, emails and regular mail missiles wait to be written. To be sent.

November and December weren’t the best months for me, but why now do I sit and think about it, regretfully, of course, instead of getting in and doing these important tasks?

The answers don’t come.

Sitting by the window in my pj.s, robe and slippers, I dawdle over a late breakfast and second cup of coffee. Intermittent sunshine pours in and I listen to the wind blowing. We always have wind in the Grande Ronde Valley, but it seems like it has been gustier and more frequent than in the past.

Or, have I forgotten?

I look down at my hands that were once young, strong and shapely. We held hands a lot, like kids in love, I’m thinking. It never lessened. The diamond in my wedding ring isn’t overly large but it catches the glint of the sun as I move it back and forth. It makes me think of the excitement between the two of us when my husband gave it to me, and memory takes me back a long long way to those early days of starting out and building life together.

On my right hand I study the two rings there. One is my mother’s wedding ring, a single gold band given her by my father 90 years ago. There is no diamond to catch the glint of the sun or artificial light. The gold bands were traditional in those days, except perhaps for the very rich. I really don’t know.

Along with my mother’s wedding band, on the same finger, I wear my “Mother’s” ring signifying that I, too, became a mother and have been remembered by my children, my three sons.

I wear no other rings nor do I have the desire to do so, unlike those who have rings on every finger like brass knuckles but full of beauty and meaning to them. I don’t know why; I crave them not.

As long as I am looking at my hands where now blue veins show through the thinning and wrinkled skin and enlarging knuckles that keep the rings from sliding off, I check my fingernails. I’m glad to see that I was recently diligent about filing them into shape. I resist the urge to assure myself that my toenails have received the same treatment, glad that my feet are snuggled warmly in my slippers not wanting to face the cold exposure.

My living room is comfortable to look at, for I was able to change the color scheme of red and green of Christmas to blue of January, normally to accent the ice and snow of winter. But, today the ground is bare of the usual snow and I wonder if this will be our winter of cold sharp wind.

May there at least be snow in the mountains for those whose livelihood and pleasure are afforded by the whitened slopes. Just as important is the moisture content to keep down the hot summer threat of wildfire in our forests and water for our agricultural fields.

Oh, yes. My room. I gaze around it.

The litter has been pretty well cleared away for the moment with a bit of neatness taking its place. The coverings of doilies, tablecloths and afghans have been exchanged as in a movie set, a few old toys left for January’s “Toy” month. There is still child in me that comes out in January decor. It was easy after Christmas with our children, when toys were still in one piece, negating putting them away for a time. Now only a few old ones leftover from those days grace the table tops, nothing like I used to do in January to make George smile at my childishness but aware of his own worn black teddy bear that he had won on a punch board back in schooldays.

I tried to hide the stacks of papers needing my attention, but they have a way of encroaching back into sight, reminding me of all that must be done.

I look at them as though by magic they will be whisked away and I can be proud of my diligence in their behalf. Still, my conscience berates me and will not let me rest.

February will come soon enough. Then red will take over again for Valentine’s month, green for the Irish month of March, and pink for ...

Oh, my, how quickly this new year is flying by again. I must get busy.

First of all I must organize my unanswered letters, Christmas cards, greeting cards from A to Z, making a list of names to be addressed, and make a headroad (my word) into my responsibilities. The post office needs my mail, and I do want to hear from folks again another time. I’ll get started now.

The problem is that I begin getting organized too late.

The phone rings. A birthday lunch at noon for Laurie?

Yes, I’d love to go.


Veteran newspaperwoman Dorothy Swart Fleshman is a La Grande native.