At least, it would have been. She died on Mother’s Day. She was 79 years, 10 months, and 23 days old. Leukemia took her or rather the malfunction of the body that leukemia causes. Near the end, I took an armpit temperature of 103 degrees because she was unconscious and her jaw was clenched. You can add 1-2 degrees to that for her actual temperature. Children’s cherry liquid Tylenol was no match for it. Systemic infection probably ended her life.
And it was a fast, peaceful death in her own bed, with her family. We were able to have a COVID-19 social distance visitation at the funeral home. There were so many beautiful flowers and quite a few people came to pay their respects. Her funeral was a private, gravesite service, followed by a family luncheon afterward. We even had a cake and candles for my nephew whose 35th birthday was the same day as the visitation.
My mother has Acute Leukemia and is nearing the end of her life. She now receives platelet transfusions about twice a week because her blood platelet count is constantly less than 15. The minimum normal platelet count is 133.
I live in Minnesota and she lives in Illinois. I am one of the lucky ones. I have a job I can work remotely and some paid FMLA leave to care for her during this time. When I left Minnesota, I was healthy. At the time, my community had low COVID-19 infection rates per capita.
I drove straight though, taking a record 6.5 hours to travel the 430 miles. I stopped only for gasoline and bathrooms in small town Iowa, avoiding truck stops. I used paper towels on the pumps and my sweater sleeve wrapped hand inside the gas stations. Continue reading →
What I wanted for Christmas in the past was my own home, with my own tree, and my own children. I wanted my spouse. I wanted our life and traditions together. But like many, the American Dream of hearth and home passed me by. I never married therefore never divorced but had 15 years solid of long-term relationships before 10 years of single life. I spent many years single at Christmas.
And what I wanted for Christmas as a single professional was time off. Real time off and peace. To get away from the daily grind and get some real writing done. I wanted resolution of personal tragedy, release from all the hangs on and drags on, from regret. I wanted a solid plan for the challenges of the coming new year. What is Christmas about if not hope in the midst of darkest night? Continue reading →
I drive a 2013 Chevy Spark that is about the size of a postage stamp named Lorraine. On Sunday she was in great shape! As of Monday night, Lorraine had about $3,500 in damage- nearly the total value of the car.
November travel in the mid-west can be treacherous. It brings the official switch in weather, the harbinger of winter, and it’s mating season for deer. In fact, national auto insurance statistics place Wisconsin (#4), Iowa (#5), and Minnesota (#7) in the top 10 in the nation of likelihood for collision with deer.
Mom is in Illinois and I am in Minnesota. Any route I choose must go through Wisconsin or Iowa. Continue reading →
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” -St. Augustine
I have been so lucky as to read many, many pages of that book. And it is traveling that now disrupts the regular flow of my blog. It’s a good problem to have. Many people are not able to take time off work to visit family or for pleasure. I know how fortunate I am.
These past months, my writing career (such as it is) has been marked by an upswing in attendance of events, not performance of my own work. Open mics have been replaced with workshops, conferences, performances, and readings. And I have submitted my work for possible publication, I trend I hope to continue with more frequency.
On September 27-29, I attended the 16th annual Power of Words conference at the Casa Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Arizona. The conference ran Friday night to Sunday afternoon and though there were accommodations, I stayed in a hotel off-site with a patio by the pool and palm trees. Continue reading →
Tuesday, June 25 to Friday, June 28 ~ SC-NC-TN-KY-IN (803 miles)
Charleston, SC; Asheville, NC; Columbus, IN
Mom: “There’s nothing wrong with the South Carolina map. That Georgia map is made of cheap paper… probably peach skins…” (Free Georgia map rant continues)
Charleston, SC is only 107 miles northeast of Savannah, GA. They are considered the ‘sister cities of the south’ with a longstanding rivalry over which city is ‘better’. We spoke to a number of locals in Savannah and the consensus among them is that she is the younger, wilder sister. Their impression is that Charleston is more polished and uppity. We didn’t talk to any locals in Charleston to get their side of the story… What I will say about it is that Savannah feels smaller, more relaxed, and artsy. It is true that Charleston’s metropolitan population is twice the size of Savannah. So bigger city, more bustle. Continue reading →
Friday, June 21 to Monday, June 24 ~ FL-GA (496 miles)
Jacksonville, FL; Savannah, GA; Tybee Island, GA
Every trip has its ups and downs…
The trip from Pensacola to Savannah is a bit of a downer. Neither of us want to leave Pensacola yet. It is a special place for our family, full of happy memories, a beach escape from the vast fields of Illinois corn. But we have made a plan to also visit Savannah and Charleston. Mom is determined to stick to that plan, despite the two days we are short on travel due to our late start and early return.
We travel the interstate through the Florida panhandle, far from the coast and surrounded by thick green forest. We get to Tallahassee and mom announces she “wants to eat somewhere where they have tuna fish on tap.” And the search for the seafood restaurant marks the beginning of Lorraine’s bad behavior. Continue reading →
Tuesday, June 18, 2019 to Thursday, June 20 ~ AL-FL (315 miles)
Birmingham, AL; Mobile, AL; Pensacola, FL
If you pay attention to my route, you might ask why I drove 60 miles out of the way to Mobile, AL instead of cutting south on the direct route of Hwy 113/29. And the answer is simple: there is no Florida Welcome Center along that route and therefore no official Florida state map. Mom was determined to collect a state map from every welcome center as a souvenir. Also, the way we always and forever entered Florida was through Mobile, so for the sake of upholding tradition, sacrifices must be made. Continue reading →
Monday, June 17 to Tuesday, June 18, 2019 ~ TN-AL (212 miles)
Nashville, TN; Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament; Birmingham, AL
Today is mom’s 79th birthday.
At 450 miles, the drive yesterday from Peoria to Nashville is the longest stretch we attempt. It takes a lot of energy out of both of us, especially since I had come an additional 430 miles from Minneapolis and mom had chemo shots the previous week. This is going to be a short day and the mantra of our trip resonates: “Take it Easy”. Continue reading →
I head out in Lorraine, my jet-black Chevy Spark, on Friday morning down the familiar route through Iowa, the separation between the home of my birth (Illinois) and the home of my choice (Minnesota). I ponder the usual worries: Did I pack enough of the right things… Will the cats be OK? Will the apartment be safe? Will my car make the trip?