I need to change all of my social media bios to read “former homeschool mom” or “existential crisis in progress” or something because as of Monday both of my little birdies are in public school.
This is Pete’s third year going to school and Poppy’s first, and neither of them have had any trouble adjusting thus far. I, however, may be another story.
We started homeschooling in 2008, when Poppy was a very small fry and Pete was an even smaller fry. I know I existed and had an identity before then, but I’m having trouble remembering what that was like. So far my post-homeschooling career seems to be Laundress, Leisurely Luncher and Crooner to Cats. Things could certainly be worse, but I’m hoping to expand my horizons somewhat over the next few months. Maybe I’ll even write here more than once a month. Stay tuned, I suppose.
At first I put off writing about this because I was holding out hope that he’d come back. But it’s been four months since we last saw JJ T. Cat, and I stopped holding out hope sometime over the summer.
I didn’t expect him to be around for too many more year. He was 16 years old and that’s pretty old for a cat. But he was in good health.
He’d been a mostly indoor cat since Marsha passed away in March, and he had transformed from a stand-offish guy into a small, furry dream cat. And then one evening he went outside, and he never came back in. We never found a trace of him.
Our new neighborhood has a bit more wildlife than our old one did, and I’m afraid something caught him by surprise. Whatever happened, I pray that it was quick.
He could be a difficult guy, but in his last few months he was so loving. I’m glad we had such good memories of him at the end.
The weekly calls from Rockford’s grandmother started shortly after we moved to Missouri. I didn’t know her all that well, but I welcomed the calls anyway because I was suddenly hundreds of miles from anyone I knew at all.
“Nichole, it’s Mom,” she’d say. “Sorry to bother you.”
“Mom, you’re never a bother,” I’d say, and that’s how most of our weekly conversations started for the next 17 years.
When the kids were babies, she’d tell me stories of when Rockford’s dad and aunt were babies. My father-in-law, she’d tell me, had always been a handful. When Rockford started traveling frequently, she’d tell me how she coped when Pop was overseas in the military and she was home alone with two small children. Sometimes she’d talk about her childhood or how she met Pop, but mostly she just wanted to hear about how we were doing.
After Pop passed I talked to her even more frequently. She was lonely, and I was worried about her. Most of the time I’d call her from parking lots while I was waiting for Poppy after soccer practice or Pete during guitar. She still wanted to hear about her great-grandchildren, but she was more forthcoming about herself in the last few years. She had trouble sleeping. She missed Pop. She still worried about her kids. She was forgetting things more and more often. She was ready to go.
She didn’t pick up the last time I called. I wish I’d known the last time I talked to her would be the last time I talked to her. I would’ve kept her a little longer.
I’m grateful to have known her. I’m relieved for her. I’m so sad. She was my friend, and I’m going to miss her.