Last Day before Spring, with 12″ of Snow

Slow-Down-Blind-Corner-Sign-K-6682I’m reminding myself that snow days used to be a blessing in my life ~ a gift from God, and a chance to catch up on correcting, grading, reporting, planning, collecting materials and the myriad list of chores that teachers do at home evenings and weekends ~ chores that always competed with family activities and responsibilities and sometimes lost, and then piled up in the school bag.  Of course, the price paid for that free day was a day in the classroom added to the June calendar.

But now, I’m free to enjoy the sight of the snow falling. I don’t have a bag full of work waiting. I don’t have to leave the windows. I love snow days, even now. Their beauty, their slowing of the cars driving by the house, their cancellations of so many activities in communities, leaving families in their homes, most often together … they are still a gift from God.

Snow days invite reflection, memories and images of earlier winters. They provide a white covering over all the dormant grasses, the sprawling ground-covers, and the un-raked leaves, giving an impression of a well-manicured, pure landscape.

I love snow days best in early winter, when those outdoor chores left undone are forgiven, postponed until Spring. And by the arrival of the end of March, and the beginning of Spring, our energy for outdoor chores is renewed, and we are ready to take on those forgotten chores.

This spring, though, finds me with less enthusiasm for those chores. The weight I’ve gained this year and a half of retirement is slowing me down, and my efforts to shed it have had no results. I’m now 25 pounds into those 50 I’d lost so long ago, during the diagnosis of MS. The MS Walk is just ahead, less than three weeks away. I’m not sure we’ll be ready, Rick and I, for the five mile trek through downtown Newburyport.  But we do know the shortcuts, and have no hesitation to take them. I’m not walking for a medal, or to prove that I can. I’m simply walking because many with MS cannot. I’ll walk as far as I can.  In May, at our second walk in Natick, we may be more ready to walk the full route ~ which is a good thing, because we don’t know the short cuts there.

Depression is always affected by a lack of exercise, a gain of weight, a turn in the weather, or an unrelieved worry. My love of snow days is wearing a bit thin this late in the season. The slippery sidewalks have been fairly challenging this year, limiting our walking. The weight gain is disappointing, given my continued limited menu. And as for the worry, well ~ the answer to ‘do I, don’t I’ have the mutated cancer gene is closer to being answered. Though that might be a relief, it may also be bad news. I have a 50-50 chance of outcome.

The nurse who did the family history with me was patient as I listed my mother’s family cancers, at least those that I knew of. She was patient when I told her of my nieces’ conditions, and even more patient when I went into my own history. It’s almost become a sing-song litany of conditions: Multiple Sclerosis, Osteoporosis, Scoliosis, Depression and Melanoma. When she asked whether I was taking a DMD for MS, and I answered no, she looked quizzically at me. I told her I’d lost faith in it, and stopped, choosing instead the healthier menu. I told her of the weight loss five years ago, and this past year of retirement and weight gain. She wrote it down, and then typed into the computer. It’s been recorded now, as part of my health history.

I remembered my friend Candy telling me of her gradual and then sudden weight gain just before her diagnosis of cancer. She began her chemo after the tumor they’d discovered began to rapidly gain in size … about a pound a day for the first two weeks after diagnosis and before chemo started. Candy was a health nut … ate healthy, walked frequently, loved nature and had a room full of furry critters that delighted her kindergarten students. She and I had a quiet bond that formed soon after her diagnosis. She told me one day at lunch that she’d had an encounter with what she was sure were angels, and she felt I was the only one she could talk with about that experience. I listened with interest, with patience. I believed her story; she’d been on her way to a relative’s holiday party and the roads were snow covered. Her new car slid off the road onto the bank and her tires spun. She had no cell phone with her, as few of us had such technology then. But in her rear view mirror she saw three very large men, dressed only in denim overalls, one strap fastened over their shoulder and one strap missing or hanging loose. They picked up her rear bumper and slid the car back onto the road. When she got out of her car to thank them, they were fading into the fog at the side of the road. She believed they were angels. I believe she was right.

Why is she so on my mind this month? Is it because cancer surprised her? Is it because it first manifested with a weight gain, and I am struggling with an unexpected weight gain this winter? Is it because I miss our talks at lunch those many years ago? Is it that I am wondering now whether there would be angels in my rear view mirror in the near future? Is it because I read and reviewed a book about the paranormal earlier this month* … a book that brought back memories of talk of angels, and dreams that foretold events that happened soon after? Is it because my memory is weakening so much that sometimes I think something is deja-vu when actually it is something I’d seen or read the day before but forgotten, and then remembered it only slightly when I saw it again?

I have many more books to read and review … one more in the political trilogy that has held my interest this month, and then several murder mysteries that I downloaded to my Kindle. One is written by an author who will be with us at the Library in August. Another is a sequel to an author I proofread for last year. A few others are authors’ books that I promised to review in return for their reading and reviewing my own.

And then there is my unfinished murder mystery … the one I thought would take place in a school district. And the other one that I began, showcasing the many quilts I’ve made and written of at my website. I’m not confident that I will finish either one. That is an indication that my interest in things I value is waning. I am between quilts right now, but involved with two needlework groups of many people who share that interest in fabric and quilting. I waver between wanting to quilt and wanting instead to read about quilts. Writing about them seems to want more energy than I can muster. Worry does this to me … distracts me, tires me, limits me. I’m spending more time in past memories than in looking ahead to the future, or even around at the present. Looking back takes no energy, no balance, no strength, no creativity. It just takes memory, and that is slipping away bit by bit.

I’ve posted on Facebook the updates each time I’ve written here. The few comments that appear are either strangers or friends I’ve met on MS sites or author sites. Family doesn’t respond to these entries, yet tell me they are reading. One sister does respond via email or telephone. The rest of my family wait for me to contact them, and I stopped doing that a year ago, when I began blogging instead in an effort not to appear needy. I feel needy, though. I miss my friends at school, who don’t respond here, either, and rarely email me unless I’ve emailed them to ask.

I’m glad my niece is using Caring Bridge, and has a number of friends and family who respond to her there. I don’t think that what I write here is any different than what I would have written there. But people close to me discouraged me from writing there, saying that what I have doesn’t involve chemo treatment, and so what I have doesn’t fill the bill for a Caring Bridge site.  Too soon, some have said. Too dramatic.

I don’t have chemo for any of my five conditions. I do have medication for a few. I had nightly injections for four years, but that didn’t equal the seriousness of chemo. It didn’t warrant daily updates to my friends and family. And so my posts here are weekly. Still, responses from family are non-existent. I now have cancer, treated with multiple surgeries instead of chemo, and even that didn’t warrant responses.

No wonder I think about past conversations, and friends who have passed away, or past out of my life if not theirs. No wonder I am sadder this month. Next month I will know, yes or no, and then I can put that unknown away, and go on with my life, with Rick by my side, always. I am never alone. I have Rick, and yes, I have angels for company.

*My review of Confessions of a Sunday School Psychic

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  1. denise

    Terry I too love the snow days. When the kids were little we made snowmen and went sledding. The nights Bob had to work all night plowing Robbie and I would play board games. Soon will be the spring with the birds building their new nests. The flowers will start poking up out of the ground. Oh and the warm sun light that makes everyone feel so much better. I love reading your posts you are such a strong person…. Denise

    • Thanks, Denise. Your comment brought smiles and images of spring blossoms~ happiness!

  2. I hear you Terry …. weight gain isn’t a happy thing. Dealt w/ it for most of my life. Seems that, like you, I’m retired. Worked for almost 35yrs. in the medical field. Now I sit in front of my computer trying to “write” interesting thoughts in this “new blog”. Wish you the best in health …..

    • Thank you, Dr. Rex. I visited your site, too ~ love your focus on the expressions from the Hindu teachings. Peace for everyone there~ Namaste.

      • Feel free to call me Horty … that’s who I am.
        I love the eastern modalities. I’m exploring them now more than before …. now I’m retired.
        They have always attracted me. Wish they taught those modalities while I studied.
        I think that they should be incorporated in Western Medicine!

  3. Hello dear Terry~ I always enjoy your articles~ No one in my family ever responds to my articles on my blog; though they mention from time to time that they do read them. I find that I spend more time reflecting on the past more than I did even a yr. or so ago. I will be 70 in a couple of weeks, and perhaps that is considered normal as we get older, I don’t know. Like your Rick, my Ray is always by my side and he is truly a gift straight from heaven. As for angels, I have always believed we have angels when they are needed. Whether we see them or not, they are always there. Thank you for such a thoughtfully, heartfelt sharing of your personal thoughts.

    • Sandra, we have so much to share, and are fortunate to have such places as this to do that sharing. Peace to your and your beloved Ray!

  4. Judy Naylor

    Although snow days are beautiful, they do darken the skies. I hope the coming days of real spring bring you warmth and comfort. I can’t help but wonder if non-teachers appreciate the beauty of a snow day the way that a teacher does.

    • Well, maybe the week before the December holidays … but the interviews on the network local news would lead us to believe that only teachers and children have a full appreciation for the wonder of snowflakes 🙂

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