I drove out to my sister’s in rural Indiana this afternoon. It isn’t far from the city, really- just a 45 minute drive. The scenery, though, is so different.
Corn stalks in the fields
stand taller than me,
Lush emerald rows of
soybeans hug the land,
Traffic slows as giant farm
machines cross the roads,
Signs sing the virtues of
home-grown produce and brown eggs,
Farmhouses, red barns and white
wooden churches still dot the landscape,
Horses and cows roam
An owl perched serenely on
a telephone wire.
My soul was refreshed
by the beauty.
I went to the library this morning to return some books. I almost didn’t go. The books were due today. I tried to renew online, but one of the books could not be renewed. I considered putting the trip off, since the fine for one book wouldn’t be much. Then it occurred to me that someone else must be waiting for that book. So I decided I would just run by the library and put the books in the drop box.
I got to the library and almost just slid the books into the drop box, but I went inside instead. I’m glad I did, or I would have missed it. I walked to the desk and spoke to the librarian to let her know about the book I couldn’t renew. As I turned to go, I saw it. The hope that motivates us as teachers.
A white-haired man pushed the button that automatically opens the door. He took slow, mincing- but determined and intentional steps into the library. His wife followed close behind. His progress was painfully slow, but he walked straight to the shelves that hold the large-print books. Once he was there, his wife left him on his own and he was just another reader, looking for a book.
Yet he seemed so much more to me. He is exactly what we hope our students will become- a lifelong reader. A reader who wants a book badly enough to get to the library even when it isn’t easy. So when I am back at school (in less than a month!) and my students are before me, I will close my eyes for just a moment and picture them older, much older- walking into the library.
And this morning, I didn’t rush out of the library as I had intended (after all, I always have something to read on my Kindle)- I took my time and walked out with a new stack of books.
My sister said, “Let me take you to a new Chinese place.”
We turned into the parking lot of Walmart and the adjoining strip mall. I expected the usual hole-in-the-wall kind of place with a buffet. Not here, though. China Bistro instead is elegant inside. The décor is black, red, and gold. The dining room divided into sections by walls with lighted shelves displaying vases and artifacts. The menu has plentiful selections. The atmosphere is quiet with music playing softly in the background. The waitresses are polite and attentive. (And the restroom is immaculate.)
We enjoyed egg rolls as an appetizer. Just the right crispiness on the outside and steamy hot inside. Our entrees were Cashew Chicken and Pineapple Chicken (the special was any chicken dish, $7.95!- give us a break for the lack of variety). The Cashew Chicken was salty (not too much) and flavorful. The pineapple chicken was sweet (just right). They were served with steamed rice, the sticky kind…really, nothing can compare to rice that is cooked perfectly.
The waitress brought our fortune cookies as we were slowing down (we couldn’t eat everything, we each had a nice takeout box for the next day’s lunch). My sister cracked open her cookie, pulled the slip of paper out, and burst out, “Really!? That’s my fortune?”
“What?” I laughed. I am usually the queen of lame fortune cookies. I almost always get advice instead of a fortune.
“I am so glad to get out of that cookie,” she read, deadpan. “Really!?” she repeated.
Cackling, I opened mine. “A refreshing change is in your future.”
How about that?!
The tears come, sometimes several times a day, sometimes just once. Sometimes they swoop in unexpectedly, brought on by a random word heard or scent in the air or sight seen. Sometimes they are anticipated, the expected result of tackling certain tasks or facing a now-changed routine. Sometimes they burst out after the fleeting thought of picking up the phone to share a little slice of life is met by the reality- no one is there to answer the phone.
Sometimes the tears are unwanted, resisted, yet every time, they are healing. Every time they offer some comfort. Every time, the tears give way to a smile as good memories come.
I miss you, Mom.
I was driving home one afternoon, and traffic was very bad. It was frustrating getting over to the exit lane. I was feeling kind of grumbly. As I merged into traffic off the interstate, a car squeezed in front of me. It was a Smart car. The license plate, directly under the “Smart” emblem, read “Aleck.” It made me laugh out loud!
The moment arrived abruptly
We gathered…we wept
Arrangements were made
The news spread
Family and friends came
There were tears…there were hugs
Memories were shared
We all joined together
Sang hymns…lifted up prayers
Loving tributes were spoken
A final good-bye
Now I am alone
Trying to understand
A grieving heart
Time will pass
Death conquered by Life
In loving memory of my Dear Mother, 1932-2014
My sister-in-law finally texted me this message…
Sorry for the confusion…you know, that’s the state we live in, the State of Confusion.
A doctor’s office has once again prescribed a medication that is on the allergies list…
This happened in our well-reknowned, award-winning practice… the one with the doctor we trust… the one with the nurses we call angels
Thankfully, we were alert and noticed the mistake before it turned into a trip to the emergency room had someone who didn’t know picked up the medicine and given it…
A cautionary tale for all who help with the medical care for an older family member…
You truly are a citizen in the State of Confusion. Write everything down and refer to the notes often.