The end of this coming week will mark 7 months since Mom died. In some ways it seems forever ago, in others, it seems like yesterday.
A few months before her final days, I left an extremely stressful position and took a college teaching position. I have been enjoying it because even though teaching, grading and prepping can be a lot of work – trying to keep ahead of the semester, etc. – I don’t find it to be terribly difficult. I also have enough flexibility in my schedule that I can exercise more, AND, teaching is not sedentary for me. I tend to walk back and forth in front of the white boards – a LOT! I have been averaging two miles or about 5000 steps a day just teaching. The new activity level has helped, and I have made a conscientious effort to exercise (walk) harder several times a week at the urging of my Cardiologist. I have lost 12 pounds off my heaviest weight, and last week I hit a milestone that is important to me. I now weigh the same as I did before Mom’s crisis and Stage IV cancer diagnosis almost 2 years ago, upturned all our lives. I will not be complacent, however, as I still have a long way to go to get back into a reasonably healthy weight.
Spring is here. The sky is spectacularly beautiful. I hear birds chirping. I see little children eagerly anticipating the end of the school year – I also see it in my college seniors!!!
I feel happy. I feel content. I am looking forward to my college freshman girlie coming home for the summer in a few weeks.
I am blessed.
When I was in high-school, I was that girl who was the math and science dweeb. For all practical purposes, it was prior to the concept of computer geeks, due to no one having access to any computers. Of course, PCs were just on the horizon. I did love everything technological, and ended up majoring in computer science. All of my math and science teachers really encouraged me to go into the hard sciences, and I appreciate that more than I can say.
However, there was one other teacher, Coach. He was my English teacher for my junior and senior years. If there were subjects that could be classified as my “worst,” English and Literature would be deeply entrenched into that category.
But, Coach would have NONE of it. He always challenged us to think about things from a different perspective. I thought of this, recently, when watching The Dead Poets Society with my daughter. I have a vivid memory of him at the front of the class room reminding us that “even the president… has Passion.” (Rod Stewart – and mind you, Carter was the president at the time).
Through humor and consistent pressing, he forced me to come to grips with the fact that, in order to really succeed, I needed to be able to write substantially, as well as I would be able to develop software. In fact, during my senior year, he strong-armed me into the assistant editor position on the school literary magazine. I hated every minute of it. (Except for working with the editor who was one of my favorite people in school).
So. Thanks, Coach. Thank you for understanding that I could not stay in my comfort zone with the numbers and the equations and the symbols. By convincing me to spend some extra time in the dark side, you helped form the person I am today, truly as much as the others did.
With everything going on in my dealings with mom’s cancer, I am having great difficulty finding the time to sit down and write something of substance. Even when I manage to carve out a few moments just to do this, I am unable to string together more than three sentences. It fascinates me how much the day to day dealings have zapped my brainpower. I decided to just tell you the top 10 things floating around in my mind and see what sticks.
1. I took a leave of absence from work. My mother is quite feeble these days. She has allowed herself to deteriorate to nearly being unable to stand. She is taking radiation, and I am her only family in town. Therefore, I am ferrying her. It ends up being close to a 3 to 4 hour outing every weekday. Combine that with the aforementioned inability to think, and there you have the reasons I am not even trying to work productively.
2. The one fringe benefit of my mother’s health crisis is that my sister is coming to town a LOT, so I get extra playtime with her.
3. Before we really knew mom’s diagnosis, we had arranged for a remodel of our master bath. The original estimate was to take about 2 weeks (I figured it woukd be 3), but due to unforeseen crap going on once we opened the walls, this job is taking forever. I do have running water now. Its been 10 weeks. Nearly there. Nearly.
4. I have heartburn right now. I had been plagued with it for the past few months, but it went away when I stopped working. I believe it’s because I quit eating out. But last night I had biergarten food, and I’m paying for it today. It was good going down, however.
5. Almost got stuck in a space capsule in the children’s play area. See #2 above. She instigated it.
6. I was bitten by a Llama today.
7. Ostriches, up close, scare the hell out of me. They have swagger and an attitude of owning the place. They seem like they want to pop a cap in your ass. And, they are huge; they have those beady eyes. And, when you close the car window, giant birds don’t like it, because they know you have the food, and they start tapping on the window (above my eye level, mind you) with their big, horrifying beaks. This is a close second to the terror that is named “Clown.”
8. At the fabric store, I bought some midnight blue velour, faux fur, and organza with glittery snowflakes on it. The clerk said, “awwww, how pretty. Are you making a frozen – themed costume for your little girl?” Um. Nope. (I shall be the Snow Queen, this year. I get to wear a crown. I like that.)
9. We’ve had to move mom about 3 times in the last few months. She wants to move back into another place (nope), and she keeps talking like moving is no big deal. Of course it isn’t, when you aren’t DOING any of it. It IS easy when the furniture keeps showing up where you need it. Do you think there are “Moving Fairies?” That would be an excellent costume for my husband. I could get some white painters coveralls, put a logo on “Two Fairies and a Truck,” add glitter and wings. Voila! He’s not as excited about this as I hoped.
10. I made the best batch of red beans and rice this week. It was stellar! Another perk of not working right now is that I’ve actually freed up a little extra time in the morning to meal plan and prep. Tomorrow’s planned fare is shrimp & corn bisque.
“Here is how we are presenting it so far.”
The Jones/Smiff home will be featured in this year’s Tour du Snoot. The previous owners preserved the original home’s Colonial Revival style when they added two story living space on the back of the home. This white brick home features gabled dormers on the front and pleasing Doric columns flanking the entry porch.
“We need you to add a line or two to personalize the listing. You know, to grab people’s attention, pique their interest in seeing the home.”
“Okay,” I mused. “How about something along these lines?”
“The Smiffs bought the home in 2008, taking on projects of their own, including room to house their creepy doll collection along with expanded space for their other many hobbies. Having an historic home is great for hosting Halloween Seances, and our newest, favorite social activity, Swing parties,” Mrs. Smiff said to the historic society lady who attempted to hide her reaction as she quietly fanned herself.
“We’ll be in touch about the tour,” as she exited quickly through the side door, next to the charming carriage house, while sounds of Tiger Rag wafted from among the outdoor speakers and disco lights.
(This really happened. Most of it inside my head.)