Rob Neukirch

Rob Neukirch
Rob lives in Floyd, VA with his wife Michele and their two sons, Preston and Cooper.


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AUGUST 30, 2010 12:06PM


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I've written more than once about my mother's passing a year ago this past August.  The 8th to be exact.  I recently wrote about the sale of her house, just ten days ago or so.  It is more difficult to write about the evolution of grief.  As we are all individuals, we are affected in individual ways.  While reading about grief can and does bring about those "a-ha" moments, for the most part it is unexplored territory and there are no ready answers.

For many months after Mom died I struggled with the simple presence of my family, just being around them.  We have two wonderful, amazing sons who are, as a close friend once described them, "bright lights."  They are intelligent, social beings who never fail to bring smiles to those they meet.  For a long while, they just couldn't bring a smile to me.

I stuggled the most with my wife.  It is embarrassing now to write that I found fault with practically everything she did, from the way she ate to the tone of her voice.  I criticized her weight, her clothes, her cooking, her social interactions.  I knew, for a fact, that she didn't consider me at all.  Luckily, aside from a few, irrational outbursts, I kept my thoughts and criticisms to myself.

As this past winter turned to spring, something started to change, something began to lift from me and I, literally, felt myself passing as from out of a fog.  I began to see myself and others as we truly are.  I began, I suppose, to finally get back to being "in the moment."

Along about this time I followed this crazy, or not so crazy, idea along the internet chain:  a home recipe for shampoo and rinse.  "Go Green With Your Hair" the headline read, or something like.  Baking soda and water for washing;  organic apple cider vinegar and water for the rinse.  I grabbed a couple of empty bottles out of the recycling bin in the garage and made up  the solutions.  I tried it.  It worked.

Soon after my "discovery," my wife who is, not so incidentally, black, came down the hallway with her hair supplies and a towel.  She was headed for the kitchen sink when I intercepted her and convinced her to try my new method.  She was skeptical, maybe of both my idea and me.  But she relented and we stood together while I got out the big measuring cup and started mixing.  While she leaned over the sink, I poured the solutions, in turn, through her luxurious hair.  I got my hands right in there.  We talked and laughed and for the rest of that afternoon and on into the evening, we were George Burns and Gracie Allen.  Whatever topic we were discussing could be interrupted with "How's that hair feeling?"  Thumbs up.  "Just great, just great."  Laug, laugh, laugh.  The boys rolled their eyes.

That was weeks ago.  Just this past weekend, after Sunday waffles, there we were again.  Me, mixing; my wife combing out and getting ready.  Then the ritual.  I loved so much, again, looking at her beautiful neck, feeling her lovely, perfectly shaped head.  Her shirt came up from the waist band of her summer shorts and my left hand sometimes rested there, on her back.  The boys passed through and made note, if not consciously then, okay, unconsciously, of their parents' strange positions at the sink.  I hope they will hold that picture in their memories, forever.

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Thanks for sharing this story -- it's a great testament to you, your wife, your family and how we move from winter to spring with our grief. Good job.