Last week, after Cathy, Jamie, Bill and I finished cleaning, Cathy commented on how quiet my mum was.
"She just sat there with these big eyes," she said. "Has she always been so quiet?"
I explained that she'd been almost 73 when Dale got sick, and to be honest, Dale was the glue that held our family together. Sundays at the farm usually started around 11:00 when Debbie would show up with her kids, David and Mercy. Dale, Jamie and I would show up within the hour, and everyone sat around the kitchen visiting while the kids chased around the handful of cats and kittens.
Sometimes we moved out to the deck, but most of the time we stayed inside because Mum would have a beef roast in the oven, and Daole would want to make Yorkshire Pudding. Debbie would start cooking some kind of desert, and I would put on a pot of veggies and stand by to make the gravy.
Debbie's husband, Dean, would show up by 1:30 and by then, dinner would be ready and we'd all have this huge feast.
In the last few years when he was chronically drinking, things slowed down a bit but didn't completely stop until he started going blind in April of 2002. This is when Mum started getting really quiet. She suffered through his illness and death almost as much as me.
In the months and years that followed, I couldn't go out there because of the ghosts that lingered. The men stopped helping as much as they had before - well, Dale was the one that helped the most. Helped look after the cows, mend the fences, build the deck, fix the roof, AND keep the cats under control.
In the almost nine years since Dale's death, the farm went to hell in a hand basket, and now it's up to me to suck it up and start helping on a more realistic basis. I began by going out yesterday and changing the sheets on their bed, doing some laundry, giving Mum a pedicure and cleaning their bathroom.
I hope things start to brighten up again, before either of them pass away.