Make My Day

#SOL20 – Day 9

Slice of Life March Writing Challenge

Some people like to treat themselves on Friday with a special drink or something to eat. Maybe because Friday is the last day of the work-week and they feel they earned it, or deserve a reward for making it through.

Fridays have never been a problem for me. It’s Monday’s that I struggle with.

That’s why Monday is my treat day. As soon as I get in my car and ready myself for that treacherous drive on the autobahn (although, I looked that word up for proper spelling **lucky thing because I left the “h” out at first** and found that the top speed on said road is 80 mph. That changes my perception of the autobahn. 80 is what I do on a rainy day. 80 is what I do when there’s traffic and I have to be careful weaving in and out of lanes…) called the Dan Ryan, my mind immediately races through (no pun intended) the day beginning with the tasty drink I will be stopping for in about 25 minutes.

I cruise into the drive-through lane. Sometimes I’m first, sometimes I’m 10th, it doesn’t matter. I will wait.

“Grande Very Berry Hibiscus, please.”

The voice pipes back with the sweet sound of recognition, “Light water and light ice, right?!”

The lady inside the box knows me.

Now I know what they mean on the survey when they ask, “did the person in the store try to get to know you?”

Day Made.

The Catch

#SOL20-Day 8

Slice of Life March Writing Challenge

“What is the name of this song again?” I asked while driving this morning to the suburbs.

“Into the Mystic”, she replied. “I always loved this song.”

I heard a catch in her voice so I looked over.

I knew it would be there, that catch. There was a funeral she attended for a teacher many years ago and someone got up and sang this particular Van Morrison song. It was quite memorable. Even for me, just hearing about it.

Her lower lip was quivering a bit.

“This is the song they played at that teacher’s funeral, wasn’t it? ” I asked.

“Yes,” she said.

Van Morrison continued to croon on as we drove in silence, soaking up the beauty of life on this early spring day.

Off to Sleep You Go

Slice of Life March Challenge

#SOL20 – Day 7

The soft hum of the machine slowly lulls me to sleep on the couch.

Inhale
Exhale

My breathing is in sync with a contraption that’s plugged in to Kathy’s arm, slowly, methodically, quietly pumping so that her lymphedema can stay under control.

We both have very different reactions to this “straight jacket from outer space”, as Kathy refers to it. She dreads the hour each day that she is tied to the thing, frustrated that every minute drags on into infinity.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I tried the sleeve out myself once….for about 4 minutes until I was so antsy that I had to get out of there. I don’t question for one second that the struggle is real. Those 4 minutes were a real drag for me. I certainly didn’t feel the urge to fall asleep!

I ask her to visualize during that hour, to see in her mind’s eye the slow release of the swelling in her right arm. To see the blood and other fluids flowing freely through the veins and arteries, cleaning, removing, transporting, doing all the important things that the lymphatic system does.

It’s hard.

I understand, really I do.

But, when I’m laying on the couch and I hear the intermittent purr of that compression sleeve, it’s just calling me to dream land. The end.

Know My Name

Slice of Life March Challenge

#SOL20 – Day 6

Me: “How are you?!” I asked.

Him: “I’m good” he said, sheepishly looking down.

I wondered. What is with this silence drawing between us.

Then he quietly whispered….”do you know my name?”

He was probably thinking…..I don’t think she does.

I was thinking…..Do I?

I said to myself, I might as well go for it. Trust my gut. I’m sure I know it, I need to be more confident in myself.

Me: “Of course I do!

Dramatic pause…..

CALEB!!!

The sheepish, downward eyes looked up as he was nestled under my arm and came barely to my waist.

His eyes quietly saying –

Thank you for knowing my name. Thank you for knowing me.

Golf, Laughter and Remembering

#SOL20 – Day 5

“Peggy! This is a golf outing, why are you putting on makeup?”

“I don’t know…maybe because I’m not playing golf?”

“We’ve been coming here for 18 years”, Peggy replied. She went on to say, “Carrie, I know a lot has changed in all those years, but here’s what hasn’t changed for me and Lynn on this day in our golf cart….

Riding either far behind or way ahead of you and Kathy,

Catching up on the latest news in each other’s lives,

Combing our hair, covering our hair, and being generally overly concerned about our hair,

Making a detour to the clubhouse to warm up or cool down because let’s face it, we’re never dressed properly for the outdoors,

Ditching our cart altogether to go back to the A-frame for playing cards or anything else that seems more important than golf,

Getting shushed for laughing too loudly,

And, hitting the snooze button, sleeping in and getting to the banquet room just in time for lunch, the raffle and lots of reminiscing with Kim’s family and loved ones about how generous, kind, funny, and smart she was.

All I could do was laugh.

That’s exactly how Kim would have wanted it.

Chances

#SOL20 – Day 4

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Slice of Life March Writing Challenge

The workday is done.  I am home now and it’s time to make my way down the hallway of my condo building.

I use my key to unlock the door with #1705 in black numbers just below the peep hole.

Don’t look in the kitchen or dining room.  Go straight to the couch, no detours, says my inner voice.

I take my place on the couch to her right and slide my hand in hers.

I wonder, is she happy or sad today?  How is her back feeling?  Were the good shows on T.V.?  I am already armed with the knowledge of how she slept last night, thanks to my Nest camera.

I am constantly gauging, can I sit quietly or should I talk about my day?  Hearing of the outside world can widen her world just enough to forget for awhile that the terrible shows were on T.V. today.

The days are getting longer and the nights are more restful.  I listen to the tone of her voice and I watch her facial expressions.  How did this day go?  This life of wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, shower and watch T.V.  Monday through Friday vs Saturday and Sunday.

Soon to be 89 years old, her life is so much more than the last 2 years.

Each evening requires a rapid assessment of the situation.

Some days I get it right while on other days I need a do-over.  I lose my cool.  I get frustrated.  We don’t connect.

Thank goodness that every day is anew, so if I didn’t get it right yesterday, I’ll have another chance tomorrow.  Until I don’t.

She Gets Me

#SOL20 – Day 3

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As I was sitting in my Superintendent’s office one afternoon last week, Kathy popped her head in and said, “Thomas is here, do you want to say hi?”

I was on my feet and out the door as soon as she said his name.  (Sorry, Mike!)

“Yes!  I’m coming!”

He is 16 years old now.  6 feet tall with the same mop of red hair from when he was 9.  The same sideways grin that lets you know he’s really happy to see you.  The same attention to my words as always.  I am so grateful that he knows to come back and see me whenever he can, even in High School.

I directed him to the picture on my book shelf.  He pulled it down and studied it.  He was 10 years old, sitting behind a fake drum set on an empty stage at The House of Blues in Chicago.

“Man, I looked so small” he said without looking up.

“You were, but even then so full of life and love.  Remember when I called you the Mayor of Central Park?  You knew everyone there and you were exactly the same at Unity JH for 7th and 8th grade.”

Another side-ways grin flashed my way.  She gets me, he was thinking.

“Well, gotta go.  My dad will be wondering where I am.”

Already, I thought to myself?

“OK”, I replied.

I watch as the grey hoodie envelopes him as he prepares to go back out into the world.  The hood that was removed with all the manners of a grown up when he entered my office is now reinstated as an armor, of sorts.

He walked toward the door and just as he was about to exit he turned back and said,  “love ya, Dr. Cahill.”

This kid.  Yep.  I get him.

 

 

 

 

Back Where I Come From

#SOL20 – Day 2

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Back where I come from

The kitchen was the first room you walked into, sat down and talked with family.  It was comfortable.

Back where I come from

The upstairs bathroom had a window where perfect puffs of smoke could be covertly blown out with no one the wiser. Living in a house full of smokers kept my secret.  It was dangerous.

Back where I come from

There was a straight path from home to school. Friends joined as I walked so that by the time I got to school we were a group of three. It was safe.

Back where I come from

The lights and the heat weren’t always on. Water had to be boiled. Extra blankets were pulled out. There was a lot of arguing with people on the phone.  It was confusing.

Back where I come from

Conversations in one bedroom between two girls and their mom happened nightly. Shrinking from a family of four to three created a closeness that would sustain me through the next twenty years. What did we talk about?  It eludes me now, but I knew these two were my people. I clung to the hope that they weren’t going anywhere.  It was security.

Back where I come from

Life wasn’t always easy or fair. Kids teased, teachers scorned, fathers were absent.  I had very little and yet I had everything.  A few close friends.  A home that I lived in for the first twenty-five years of my life.  A mother who knew the importance of activities for me such as swimming, flute, and Brownies and who also taught me to think for myself, believe in my gifts, and work hard for what I wanted.   This.  It was love.

 

Spilling Stories

#SOL20 – Day 1

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I’m waaaaayyyyy too busy, she said dramatically

As if no one in the world was ever as busy as she.

I’m just not going to be able to do it this year, she said sternly

As if no one in the world had to turn anything down in their life.

Prepare yourself, I will only be able to do it once in a while, NOT EVERY DAY, she said emphatically

As if no one in the world had ever committed to less than 100% and lived to tell the tale.

This slow erosion from never, not ever, to ok, maybe, just once in a while happened like waves erasing the beach.

And then this came

“Are we slicing this year?”

And then that came

“I look forward to March every year. I can’t wait to spill my stories.”

And then miles of the beach were just gone.

And she started to think…

Hey- I bet I could start my story like Mitch Albom did – plopping my reader right in the middle of the main character’s life. And….I wonder if I could connect my characters like Lisa Unger so carefully weaved each chapter in and out between Rain and her childhood friend Hank. Then…Maybe I could write with the blunt, in-your-face beauty of Jennifer Clement in that book that I couldn’t put down last summer.

And there she was once again, at this very familiar and happy place…. anxiously awaiting the first day of March.

Ready to spill her stories.

Our Window

#SOL19 – Day Thirty

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We look out our window every day.  If I had to guess how often, I would say it would be 15-20 times.  Our view never ceases to amaze and inspire us.  It makes us happy.

There is a beautiful vision of Lake Michigan that dips into the eastern horizon and runs south to north, just like Lake Shore Drive.  The sun appears in the morning as if it has taken an overnight swim and is lifting out of the water, dripping and hot, and ready to shine.  Our eyes struggle to see the Indiana shoreline.  We think about our friend who has a lake house there where she watches the sunset, the opposite of what we see from our window.

Attached to the lake, a little closer in our view is the boat harbor.  She looks rather desolate in the winter with her vacant slips.  Steel and wooden homes with frozen water wafting about are awaiting their owners to once again come home to roost for the summer.  But even when empty they give us hope.  Hope that the yachts and speed boats will be back, sure as it’s springtime in Chicago.  We stand watch from our window, counting the days until the boats slowly ease back into view.

Our window further frames other beautiful features as we turn to our left and gaze north.  We check the status of Soldier Field, the Planetarium and the Field Museum.  Football games, concerts, 5K running events and the return of the mummy show are just a few things we may see.  Huge billowing plumes of smoke flow out of the rounded roof of the Planetarium in the dead of winter.  That’s when I know it’s very cold outside and I am better off staying put inside where it is warm and cozy.

I am content to sit on my couch and look out our window.