Recently I have received a great deal of support and attention due to the death of a loved one, my husband of thirty-one years – Allen E. Williams. I am so fortunate to have that loving ring of kindness from my family and friends to hold me up in my grief, but how I dread sitting down to write thank you notes. It should be easy because I am truly thankful for the many ways they have looked after me, but it is hard to focus. Sitting in my office with all the necessary pieces – lists of names and addresses, cards, envelopes, stamps, a good pen, it is difficult to stay on track for more than an hour at a time.
My mother raised me to be a good Southern lady (well, she was only partly successful, there are lots of rough edges left.) That means you get notes sent on a timely basis. So far, I have written about 30, but there are many more reminders in the basket calling me for response – thanks for visits, calls, notes, flowers, plants and attending the celebration of Al’s life.
I have stopped writing notes for the day because I like to write some personal comments on each and not simply sign my name. That seems like cheating somehow.
I have two other imminent deadlines. First is writing something to read at my weekly writing group and the other – this short essay about my lack of self-discipline and because I promised the Editor that I would write a column each month and August has slipped away almost unnoticed.
Deadlines whether external or self-imposed are a necessary part of life. They make me sweat and cry, but somehow, they also provide a useful framework that I need. I figured out why I procrastinate a few years ago. I am a closet perfectionist. If my handwriting is hen scratches, if there is a smudge on the back of an envelope, it I put on an ugly stamp, it is because of my haste in meeting a deadline and thus I can forgive myself for failing to be a perfect Southern lady.