He dubbed it the “Old People’s Corner.”
We’d always wanted a deck on the sunny southwest side of our home, but there were foundations to be rebuilt and walls to be torn down and reconstructed to save this house built in 1824 by Elias Jewell. The deck had to wait. For thirty years.
In 1972, the summer we bought the land and the mess of a house that came with it, Vic rebuilt the eastern-facing porch off the kitchen. Previous owners used it to raise rabbits, but it was perfect for summer eating and full moon rises. The following summer, Vic rebuilt the north-facing front porch for firewood in winter and houseplants in the summer. Neither porch had the sunset view.
The final piece of our long remodeling plan was a deck made of locally milled locust trees. Locust is naturally rot resistant so it was a way to avoid treated lumber. We also installed new windows on the south and west side of the living room and cut a door through the office wall connecting the house to the deck. Vic grumbled about sacrificing a panel of his beloved built-in book cases for the door, but his office, now my office, gained a sunset view.
After Vic died, it hurt too much to sit on the deck alone. In his last years, we ate there, watched sunsets, and enjoyed hummingbirds at a nearby feeder. We listened to turkeys cluck and coyotes howl, spied deer through binoculars, and spotted an occasional fox. On warm clear summer nights, Vic set up his telescope on the deck.
“Wow, did you see that one?” we yelled. “Or come and look at the moons of Venus.” We watched shooting stars, planetary conjunctions, eclipses, and cycling moons.
As grief eased ever so slightly the second summer after Vic’s death, I used the deck for meals with family or friends. I never sat there alone. Gradually, the sunsets drew me outside. The deck became my favorite spot again. This strangely warm year, our family opened Christmas presents there.
I often sit on the little bench by myself now with my dog Willow nearby. The Vic who lives within my memory keeps me company and reminds me of our love.
Vic’s birthday was on March 7. He would have been 75, but my image of him is stuck at 67 when he took his last breath.
The weather was oddly warm and sunny as it’s been most of this winter. I watched the sunset alone in the Old People’s Corner and remembered the man who created this protected place in my still protected life.
How do you celebrate the birthday of someone you love who has died? Do you try to forget about the day or do you welcome it? For other posts about celebrating my marriage, see The Comfort of Small Things and A Personal Grief Ritual of Remembrance and Release.