I think this will be the last entry in our series well over a year after the first post. Not long ago, a friend of mine joked that we should wrap it up unless readers speculate we broke up and weren’t talking to each other. I’m glad to say that all is well with Jeff and me. We’ve grown so much closer over this year that it is hard to believe it hasn’t been longer. All together it’s been a very busy year full of change and I’m hoping for calmer waters ahead.
Of course, Jeff and I had to manage our move, I also had to deal with my mother’s house in Germany due to her failing health and because my sister, who lives there, was already stretched to the limit with her own family and organizing the daily care of my mother and another ailing relative. In April, unexpected in spite of her long illness, my mom passed away. Through out this, I learned that Jeff was so much more than the guy I’m living with and I’m grateful to know him at my side. Although I’m afraid I turned the former valley boy who never had a passport into a jaded jetsetter. Since last August I already dragged him to Europe three times.
Over this year I got to dig deep in my family history, literarily and figuratively first cleaning out my mother’s apartment and then more of the family home that my grandfather built over seventy years ago. Through this, I’m becoming aware of how much my family has always put things aside, held on to them, put them in a corner to be covered later with more layers. Both my grandfather and my father had run their own business out of this house, so the leftovers range from the domestic to the industrial.
My grandfather’s manual sewing machine, he was a master tailor, was a rare treasure in the mess of discarded stuff. I know that rather than shrinking from the horror of tackling the mess, I’m the first in the family to call in professional help. So far I brought in two cleaning crews, each time at least six guys for the whole day, and there are still untouched corners left. My mother used to say: “When I’m gone, you just bring in one of those dumpsters and throw it all out.” I now know that one dumpster would not have made much of a dent. After cleaning out attics and basement, I thought I heard the house give a sigh of relief at the weight that we took off it’s shoulders. Though I might have just noticed my own sigh of relief to get things out of the way to move forward.
Jeff was at my side with unwavering support. When I asked him whether he would come along for my mother’s funeral to Germany, his only answer was: “Of course.” That’s how we ended up walking through the small town cemetery, following my mother’s urn and the catholic priest, holding hands all the way. At the funeral, I saw my two surviving cousins who I hadn’t talked to since my father’s funeral twenty years ago. I found much more to connect with them now than then. There was an awkward moment when Eugen asked, just having taken in the news that my sister had divorced and was there with her 18 years younger boyfriend: “So you aren’t married either?” I’m glad I could point to Jeff and say: “Well, I have Jeff and we would be married, if we could.” I guess against the backdrop of death, divorce, depression, eating disorders and suicide in the family, meeting a gay cousin and his American partner didn’t register high on the drama scale.
With all that behind us, I feel like I’m coming out of a haze of frantic activity. Finally I’m able to lift my head beyond what’s right in front of me and look around. There are a few things to do. I’m going back to my exercise program that I had woefully neglected and I’m already feeling the benefits of yoga and hiking. I look at the home Jeff and I have created. I see how warm, full of light and inviting it is. I hold Jeff in my arms before we fall asleep and know it is good. I know it is a strong base to grow my roots into as I stretch my arms as branches to the sky.
This series of posts was first published in 2006 and 2007. Jeff and Rolf are now happily living together. For those of you who have missed it the first time around and for everyone who’d like to read it again, here is the full story line in an updated format.