Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Saturday has always been my favorite day of the week. Still is. But I've enjoyed recent weekdays off, sleeping late (if 6:00 AM qualifies as late) then writing for hours on end instead of the minutes I allot before work. Doing laundry at leisure, ignoring dust just as I do on every other day.

I do things on these days off that I haven't done for years. I bake more, cook more, make things from scratch just to see if I can. Or should. I let my hair air-dry, don’t wear makeup, and don’t get dressed until I can no longer avoid going out into the world. I iron pillowcases and handkerchiefs. I sit and read when I should be doing other things, then do other things…oh, when I get to them. Or if. There wasn't time when I was younger and fuller of energy and much, much thinner and Saturday was always the best day.

Buying groceries—or anything else, if you actually make the commitment to going shopping when it’s not even Christmastime—is a breeze on a weekday. Aisles are less crowded and more stocked. Admittedly, there aren’t as many friends and acquaintances to stop and talk to and make plans to have lunch with “someday,” but there are compensations for that; you can be in and out of the supermarket and on the have-a-nice-day side of the drive-through at Dairy Queen in a heartbeat. You say you didn’t know about being rewarded for grocery shopping? Why else would drive-throughs be open when it’s not mealtime?

One of the nicest things about weekday-offness (yes, I know that’s not really a word, but it should be) is that people seem to have more time. They are not looking at their watches to see when the next appointment is and wondering if they can possibly fit in one more thing before they have to be there. You can get to places while they’re truly open, instead of dashing in at 5:01 and saying, “Oh, are you closing?” Duh. No, they were locking the door because they didn’t have anything better to do.

You can actually return phone calls during “regular business hours”—you know, the hours you’re normally working and can’t call people? (This is assuming you are important enough to get to talk to real people when you make phone calls. Unless I’m calling my immediate family, I don’t usually rate that high, and I think some of the family’s getting iffy.)

There is a quietness to Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday that is lacking on Saturday. Oops, I have to back up on that one. Tuesday is, in many establishments, Senior Citizen Discount Day. If this occurs at the time of month when many seniors get their retirement checks, you’re a whole lot better off staying home. Anyone who thinks younger people are the only ones without manners has obviously not been run over by a senior citizen on a mission. Although I realize many retired persons need walkers or scooters, I’m convinced some of them just take them along as weapons. The difference is they almost always apologize after they flatten you on the sidewalk.

So, let me start that thought again. Wednesdays and Thursdays are quiet. They’re good days to tie up a table too long at lunch, to linger in fabric shops or bookstores, to meander through crisp autumn leaves and reflect on how blessed you are.

Sometimes, I don't mind being older and heavier and not quite so energetic. And I love laundry and the smell of clothes as the iron slips over them. And the sounds of leaves and the birds chattering their way through them. Sometimes any day's a Saturday.

I hope you have many of them.

Till next time.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hey, Mom...

My mother died in September of 1982. She raised five children to adulthood and buried a little girl at three, something she never got over. It took having children of my own to realize that no one ever does. She was a good housekeeper, made the best cookies and homemade bread imaginable, and had a way with potato soup. Although she worked at the instrument factory in Elkhart until she married Dad, she didn’t work outside the home again until we were grown and gone, and then she was in demand as a caregiver.
Ours was not the kind of mother-daughter relationship you normally read about. We disappointed each other often. We argued a lot. I never seemed to please her, so after while, I stopped trying. I was in the midst of being a wife and a mother and working a job and in the process of doing that, I was a terrible daughter. Even all these many years later, it’s hard to type that. Hard to admit it.
It wasn’t that we never had peace. We did. We laughed together sometimes. When she was ill, I took her for treatments once in a while, though not often enough, and stopped for lunch at places she liked. The last words I ever said to her that I was sure she heard were that I loved her and would see her later. She said, “Don’t go. It’s going to be so long,” and those words haunt me still. Because even though she asked me to stay, I didn’t.
My first book was published in 1999 and I was so excited I could hardly stand it, but I sat and held the book and cried because she hadn’t lived to see it. “I wish she knew,” I said to my husband, and Duane said, “She does.” I hope he was right. My faith says he was, but my inner voice just reminds me that I wasn’t a good daughter.
I was in my early 30s when Mom died. When my kids approached that age, I went into a private panic because what if history repeated itself? I wasn’t nearly ready to leave them. I still had things to tell them, things to show them, advice to offer that they might not want but would listen to cheerfully before disregarding.
You don’t stop missing your mother with the passage of time. The gap in your life that was left by her leaving doesn’t fill up with other things. It loses its sharp edges, but it’s still there.
Why do I suddenly feel compelled to write about my mom, something I’ve never done a lot of? Her birthday was in April, Mother’s Day in May, the anniversary of her passing a month ago yesterday, so why now?
Because October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.
It’s time to make an appointment for your mammogram if you haven’t already had one. If you can’t afford it, call your doctor’s office. Yes, I know. A federal medical panel determined you don’t really need a mammogram yet, and even if you’re already getting them, they said you don’t need to do it as often.
I don’t care. I don’t care what they say. Get one anyway. I was still in my 30s when I had a biopsy. Thankfully, it was benign, but the lump showed up in the mammogram I had, not because I found it on my own.
The U. S. Postal Service sells Breast Cancer Research stamps. They’re $11.00 a sheet, but $2.20 of that goes to research. They’re pretty stamps, they’re a reminder to everyone who notices one on an envelope, and they help a slew of people. At least in October, you might buy a sheet. You could stop in at the post office on the way to your mammogram.
If you know someone who’s doing the Breast Cancer Walk, support them. Pledge money, pledge time, make the walk yourself if you have the time, health, and resources.
Breast cancer isn’t just the disease of the month. Even though research and improved drugs have made its statistics somewhat less terrifying, it still manages to reach every family you know.
Yes, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, but once it’s touched your family, you’re aware of it forever. Mom died in 1982, but she was ill for a long time before that. Although there were good times in the last seven years of her life, there were horrific ones, too. Even if you were a bad daughter, even if you’re an incurable optimist, when you remember those horrific times and how someone you loved suffered, it twists you up with a grief you can’t get enough mammograms or buy enough stamps or walk far enough to diminish.
So that’s why I wrote about my mom. To help keep you aware. Maybe to talk you into making that appointment or that donation. And to tell her I’m sorry I wasn’t a better daughter. If I had it to do over again, I would be.
But sometimes there aren’t any do-overs. I guess I wanted to remind you of that, too.
Have a good week. Make that appointment.
Till next time.

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