Greetings from the Twilight Zone! Rod Serling is lurking behind a tree waiting to step out and sum my life up for you in a few pithy, ironic remarks. I wish he’d sum it up for me. This story is so weird that you may think that I’m making it up, but I have witnesses.
Yesterday, I was cleaning out a storage room in the basement of our veterinary clinic. I was sorting old records for shredding and reordering and stacking boxes. A large box of holiday decorations (plastic pumpkins and black cats, a wreath of Easter eggs, and a revolving ceramic Christmas display of dogs and cats) was sitting about 3” from the wall on a shelf. I tried to shove it up against the wall to make room for more boxes, but it was hitting something. I slid the box about 6” to the right and saw a plastic zippered bag stuffed in the back corner. In the dim light, I couldn’t tell what it was, so I pulled it out. It appeared to be full of gray, unmixed cement. I pulled it out farther and saw what appeared to be small white stones in it.
“Wuh-oh!” I held the bag by one corner and made sure that the zipper was secure. I was pretty sure that I was holding a plastic baggie of the Veterinarian. Not a bag that belonged to the Veterinarian, mind you, but a bag containing what is left of his earthly incarnation.
Had I found this bag within a year of his death, I instantly would have been hysterical. Instead, I smiled and started laughing. No, I wasn’t delusional (I don’t think). Absolutely nothing surprises me anymore. I was pretty annoyed with the person who had hidden him there, but, just for a moment, it struck me that I was holding the love of my life in my hands for the first time in almost four years, so I smiled (and then cursed him in my next breath, before smiling again).
I told you — my life is sooooo weird!
I suppose I should tell you how the Veterinarian came to be resting in the basement of his business. It’s not like he’s a vampire, and I keep his coffin in the clinic crypt (sorry, you know me; I couldn’t resist the alliteration).
In the summer of 2011, as fans of the British television series “Doc Martin,” starring Martin Clunes, we decided to watch an earlier series starring Clunes as an undertaker, “William and Mary.” As we binge-watched the series on dvd, we talked about death and dying. We agreed that we wanted to be cremated, his ashes strewn at sea or at his favorite dive sites, mine at my church.
Life may be weird, but you can learn a lot, if you’re paying attention. When he died suddenly, three months later, I knew exactly what he wanted. I asked his friends for just one favor, to take his ashes to his favorite dive sites. They looked at one another and smiled. That’s exactly what they had already promised each other. One of them put himself in charge of making water-tight, weighted, non-floating (!) containers for the ashes, and those certified in the deepest dives, decided where they should lay him to rest. I turned the plastic container of his remains over to them, and, when the Veterinarian’s Little Dog died six months later, I suggested that they commingle their ashes, so they could be together for eternity.
Within a year, his friends told me all about the dives and where they left him and how much that site meant to him. One of the places was a spot he had planned to explore but had not visited. Another was a place where he loved to dive. A third was the place where he died. A fourth was the place where he dived more often than any other. I was content.
Yeah, I could be angrier with the jerk in charge of the ashes than I already was, but I won’t waste my breath on him. Once a jerk, always a jerk. Nothing new there. My immediate concern is that I have this baggie of the Veterinarian and the Little Dog that needs a final resting place. I might put them into an empty wooden box that once contained a bottle of Macallan single malt whisky, and then I’ll toast him with the little bit of vintage 1965 whisky that’s left in the bottle. He must have left it for just that purpose. I’ll pull out my Book of Common Prayer and pray the graveside service that wasn’t said at his memorial service. This time, the BFF can attend.
When do I send him off, yet again? On August 18, which would have been our 43rd wedding anniversary? On October 13, the fourth anniversary of his death? On June 3, 2016, which would have been his 64th birthday? I’ll figure it out. Right now, I like having him around the house. We’re both resting in peace.
My online dating days are drawing to an end when my subscription expires on August 25, unless they give me free months. I’ve run through all the interesting men, who weren’t interested in me, and endured the ones who were interested in me. I have found it enlightening and sometimes harrowing. And pretty depressing.
Just last week, I met a lovely, younger married couple who met online and encouraged me not to give up. Of course, the odds are better for them than for me because there are more men in their 40s and 50s still alive and in “marriageable” condition. Everyone that I know who met their significant other through online dating was under the age of 60. What does that say for the eligible over 60 seeking companionship?
After spending time with 15 men in 12 months, I have concluded that men over 60:
- Are delusional and looking for the impossible. (Have your mid-life crisis elsewhere.)
- Are angry at their exes. (You know, I’d have left you, too.)
- Are looking for sex. (What was it about me that said I wanted you to grope me between my neck and my knees on our second date?)
- Are looking for a financial lifeboat after decades of living recklessly. (Sorry, I’ve been careful with my life.)
- Are looking for a housekeeper, cook, and playmate. (I’m a lousy housekeeper, reluctant cook, and tired of games.)
- Are on ego trips. (You’ve dated how many women?!)
- Are clueless about what women want. (See #s 1-6, above.)
Fifteen dates and not one serious prospect among them. Some had possibilities on the first date but blew it on the second date, when their true selves showed up, the bigots, the misogynists, the misanthropes. I’ve been told that finding a mate is like getting pregnant; sometimes you just have to relax, and it will happen when you least expect it. As a 63-year old woman who had a hysterectomy at the age of 24 and didn’t adopt until age 47, I don’t have any time left to invest in this theory.
I have learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned what I’m willing to tolerate for companionship; being lied to, groped, insulted, and stood-up are not among them. I’ve learned that the company of good friends is preferable to trying to figure out confirmed bachelors (look up the word “compromise,” guys). As the Daughter said to me not long ago, “I’m really starting to like where I am in my life.”
Me, too. I’m starting to find some peace and comfort. It just may be time to kick back and relax, to put all kinds of things and people to rest. So, who am I to complain? Life is good (mostly). Soli Deo Gloria!