Suzy's Blog/June, 2007      Click for Suzy's Blog Summary


Suzy Smith
Its 7:55 a.m. The plumber is sitting in his truck in my driveway sipping his coffee, listening to his radio, savoring the last five minutes before work begins. Hes a man with grown children, but perhaps not yet a Grandfather. Im on my way to play tennis, outfitted in my tennis garb, the little short skirt, the baseball cap, sneakers. Before getting into my car, I come up to his truck to thank him for the care he is taking confining and cleaning up the mess he is making in the house. He opens his window to better hear what Im saying and gives me a visual once over, a look that says, Im a man and youre a woman and therein lie possibilities. Whoa. Its been awhile since Ive experienced that kind of visual exchange, so Im slow on the uptake. When it hits me, I remember Im wearing this skimpy skirt, flagging skin and all. I begin to tug at the hem, hoping to cover more of myself. In a moment I have become my teen-age self, climbing out of the pool, tugging at my swimsuit to make sure all those private parts are covered.

 Well, thanks again, I say with a wave and get into my car. Minutes later, on the freeway, in the harsh reality of the morning commute, I burst out laughing. Was he really thinking, Why is that old woman wearing such a short skirt?

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Suzy Smith
My Dad was the quintessential absent minded professor. When he left for his office in the morning, we worried he might not find his way home that night. He wasn't great with tools, or fixing things. No one ever said "Wait until your father comes home," in disciplinary matters. Growing up in a rough and tumble household of four boys, he was flummoxed by his adult family of three women. Our emotional ups and downs and family dissensions, he handled from behind his newspaper.

No, my Dad wasn't the Dad of the father's day ads. There was nothing macho about that man and yet, we all adored him. Mother claims to have married him for his way with words, words that sustained a long, happy marriage and enriched the lives of his two daughters.

He had the answers to all our questions, drawing from his encyclopedic mind that retained everything he read. He delivered them at yawning length from an imaginary podium to an imaginary classroom. As I grew older, I learned to preface any question with "Daddy, in a few sentences, could you tell me why ....."

He was whimsical. When I was at Girl Scout camp, he wrote me it had rained so much, he woke up and found moss growing on his left side. When I announced I was going to get drunk one morning after a skirmish with my teen-age boyfriend, he said, "Fine, I'll join you," and got out his best bottle of scotch. As he suspected, I didn't like it.

Near the end of his life, in celebration of their fiftieth wedding anniversary, we were sitting as tourists in that magical, simple, soaring church in Sedona, Arizona, my father between his two daughters, his arms on the backs of the pews behind us. In a voice choked with emotion in the solemn silence of that beautiful place, he told us how surprised he had been to realize we were one of his life's greatest joys. And you in ours, Daddy.


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Suzy Smith
Gardening is one of my passions. I'm not particularly religious, but when they tell me if you want to find God, plant a garden, I believe them. It's something about feeling connected to it all, a part of nature in my own small way. The biggest questions are "What is eating my geraniums?" or "Why is this plant languishing here?" Not, why am I here or how are we going to get out of Iraq?" A garden is about essentials, not complexities. A garden is deep breathing.

It's also solace.

When the excesses of Christmas overwhelm me, I dig. The soil smells earthy and basic. My sanity returns.

When I am wounded and angry, I weed.

When the twin towers came down, I planted bulbs as an act of affirmation. There would be another spring.

My Eden, my garden, yet therein lurks a serpent, unearthed on the end of my shovel, hissing and rattling, announcing this is MY SPACE, BACK OFF. We eye one another warily, each thinking, shall I strike? No. We go our separate ways, but my garden no longer seems a respite from worldly cares. I have a terrorist in my own back yard.

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Suzy Smith
I don't recall cleaning house was one of those til death do us part promises I made when I said "I do." Yet it was assumed, when the marriage began, this was MY responsibility. After all, wasn't I female? Well, yes, but something is obviously missing in my genetic code, cleaning isn't a natural inclination.

My Mother visits our newlywed household, surveys the chaos, presses her hand to her forehead and dramatically implores, "Where have I failed?" Cleanliness is next to Godliness and I am obviously on the path to hell. I assure her more important things are going to be written on my tombstone than SHE KEPT A CLEAN HOUSE.

But, while I am building my epitaph, cleaning like the invading dust, seeps into my daily routine. It helps that the world is chaotic outside my door. I crave order and control in my part of it, something cleaning seems to provide. Should that dirty bomb fall, it will be on my clean house.

Cleaning provides comfort while I wait for the procedure that will decide whether that mysterious mass in my lungs is anything to be concerned about. The process is not only life affirming, it is the perfect combination of mindlessness and purpose for soothing a mind full of dread. And oh yes, while thinking about the new Mrs. Smith, the one who will replace me should the mass be fatal, I want her to think SHE KEPT A CLEAN HOUSE.

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