Bijou has ceased enjoying life. She is getting smaller and now wears a size 6. Her clothes are do not fit and hang from her shoulders, she also sometimes forgets to button all her buttons or zip a zipper. Bijou has always been a net worker and never failed to introduce herself to strangers, inquire about their life and make some small connection. She also easily connected others with introductions. I cannot remember when she did not also make a physical connection by extending her hand. Now she hesitated.
She scurries around her house giving incomprehensible instructions to her incorrigible beagle, Bugle Boy. She still tries to fulfill social obligations and commitments. She goes to Board meetings, church, Book Club, and parties, but now has a worried and harried look on her unusually smooth face. She is less and less reliable and begins to have a vaguely inappropriate look. We are both relieved that Calvin is gone. I am especially and genuinely gratified that I do not have to watch two parents question all the issues and perceptions that they have about their lives. It is painful enough just watching Bijou come to terms with her own helplessness and grief.
The most striking thing about my thinking is that I hope that John never returns and is never found, although that means we will never see him again. I want him to be safe from my own country and government. Bijou feels the same and it has brought a dark cloud over her life that I fear has made a mist in her mind. When she goes out she feels that people do not want to sit near her. If she leaves a room and reenters, she knows her friends have been speculating about her child - John. These thoughts are there in spite of the fact that it is doubtful that anyone will know. She knows I have found articles that mention John in Florida and California papers and each day that she walks slowly down her gravel driveway to retrieve the daily paper, she fears she will open it to front page head lines about her son. In fact, she probably believes it will say. "LOCAL MOTHER IS GUILTY"
Something else begins to trouble me. When I visit Bijou will say, "Beth, where did you put my glasses?". The inquiry will be about many things - her purse, her book, her sweater etc. I tell her I didn't put it anywhere, I haven't seen it. "Of course you know where it is, I left it right here and when I came home it was gone. You must have come in and moved them." Sometimes she would find what ever was missing and say "Well, I see you brought it back." This becomes a routine. She will not pursue it, but frequently after one of these escalating losses she tells me "I've always wanted you to be and honest person." Well, I am. There's nothing more to say.
Bijou got a new cat which she fancifully named Sasha. The disagreeable Bugle Boy was even more disgusting and demanding. Since Bugle Boy was only allowed out in a fenced yard, as he would run from her as if she were an ax murderer whenever he was free. Sasha was not allowed outside unless on a leash.
It was a beautiful day and I went to visit. Sasha was on a leash by the door and I took her up the three concrete steps that were becoming a hazard to Bijou who was now 82. I took Sasha in the house and told Bijou that Sasha looked a little rough today. She turned her back and looked out the window. When she turned back she looked at me with some intensity and said "Well, I wasn't going to tell this to anyone, but I guess I will tell you. I drove out of my driveway the other day and drove to the corner and turned left. The whole time I was driving there was an old man behind me honking and honking so I stopped and got out of the car. He was yelling at me and the veins were sticking out in his face and neck which were crimson, and I thought he may be going to have a heart attack. I just couldn't understand what he was yelling and why he was angry."
"What was he yelling about" I asked. "Well, it was really all my fault. Sasha wanted to go out so I took her out. I then remembered that I had to go to the Post Office, I went back in and got the letters and got in the car to go. Well. I forgot to take her leash off the car bumper and she was bouncing behind the car. I don't know where my mind was."
John had disappeared at an opportune moment for me. My youngest son Tim is a freshman at Brown, my middle son Brad has graduated form Kent. My oldest boy Benji is living near us and working. This is a huge distraction for me. I have lots of time to look for information and become familiar with my computer in a new way. In the spring of 94 it is a challenge to find a way to use the inter net in a specific way. This is particularly challenging since we live in the middle of a woods completely off the grid. connections are slow and difficult.
My interest is intense and fits my life. I have always acted as financial agent for a small pension and profit sharing plan and there is a convergence of consuming functions for me. Looking for my brother doing investment research. My usual life is play acting. I am no longer interested in social gossip, incidental transgressions of others, social slights or accolades. I now have a laser focused mission discovering the mystery of my brother and making money. It's perfectly symbiotic.
Although my youngest is in College, I have a minor and welcome distraction. My middle son Brad comes home after graduating from college. When he told me he was graduating (although expected - one never knows) I tell him we a quite proud as he has only taken 4 /2 years. In my youth this was expected, but there is a new generation that goes by their own time. Brad says, "I don't suppose you noticed I haven't been home for three summers." I understand as he is the middle child and sometimes lost.
I am also in the middle, and I remember Bijou and Calvin left me at the age of 14 in a train depot in Des Moines Iowa for 36 hours. They said they couldn't get there any faster. I spent the night chatting with a Porter who had tons of stories about a life I couldn't know. Brad had told me I wouldn't notice him if he were bleeding from his eyes. I love him and I'm glad he will be home while he looks for something for his next adventure. He had gone to the Andros Islands for a summer to study Marine Biology. The warm easy climate and wonder of the sea never left his mind. knew he would find a way to live free. He was a master diver and could be a contributing citizen of any small island.
In the summer of 94 Brad moved to St Thomas. Tim was home for the summer and kept me company while he unhappily worked in Martin's office. He would not be home long so this was nice. My oldest boy, Benji lived close to us. He is handsome, exuberant, optimistic and risky. He worked hard with an entrepreneurial spirit. This was my life as I contemplated John's disappearance.
Bijou had a project of her own. We had received Calvin's ashes and now felt a compulsion that she could not explain or control. She had to redeposit him ( or a little bit of reconstitution of what he was) in all the locations where he had lived and loved and struggled. This needed to be done with some dignity and with a family member. I was reminded of something by Thomas Wolfe. Roughly I remembered "When you need me, just look down, I'm ashes beneath your feet."
Plans were made and some ashes were burried in Iow at the foot or head of Calvin's fathers grave. Bijou was accompanied on this trip by my brother Jim and his son Benji. There were cousins and neices and nephews there and of course Calvin's brother Joe. Nancy took her to Minnesota, Nebraska and Indiana to deposit ashes in places they had lived. The remaining ashes were to be buried in the plot they had purchased in Ohio. Bijou couldn't seem to make these final plans.