Memoir Monday – A Taste of Things to Come


For the first time in several weeks, I have free time – no place I need to be, no deadlines, nobody waiting for me to perform a task. So I thought that I’d do some writing. But I’m not sure what I feel like writing about. I promised I’d do another blog post, but do I want to write about the things that have been keeping me so busy (and often stressed) since we arrived in Mesa Regal? Or do I want to re-establish my Memoir Monday theme?

I opened one of my memoir files and found a short piece of writing that could become the introduction to a Memoir. I’ve decided to share it with you, my readers to see what you think.

It started several years ago with an assignment in an online writing course that I was taking. We were to write a story using dialogue only, with an inanimate object in the room where we were writing.

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My Old Oak Desk

I’ve incorporated that concept into this introduction. I hope you’ll let me know how you like the style, and if the introduction makes you want to know more.

Personal Reinventions

Me:  Good morning Desk. Are you ready to inspire me today?

Desk:  Good morning Judy.  Sure, how can I help?

Me:  I need some writing ideas.  I’ve been thinking about how you came to be mine and how we’ve shared many a move.

Desk:  Yes, I remember.  You’ve dismantled me many times and left me wondering if I’d ever be whole again, or if you would finally abandon me like my previous owner.

Me:  You know there have been times when I almost did because you are so big and take up so much room in small places, but that’s one of the things I love about you.  I just had to find room for you.  It’s lucky that you can be disassembled and reassembled quite easily though.  You would never have fit through the doorways! Ha, ha.

********

The decision was made.  I could no longer take the emotional abuse.  I’d done my best to become what he seemed to want, but now his sights were set on something completely the opposite.  I’d spent nearly a year giving him his space, trying to figure out what I’d done wrong.  He gave me no answers.  He didn’t want to go for counseling.  He had no desire to save the marriage. There didn’t seem to be any hope left.  So we packed up what belongings I could take with me and piled them onto the back of the truck:  the old white iron bed from the room I’d been sleeping in lately, the one without the brass trim and newer mattress; a small chest of drawers that had been in our son, Brendan’s, room once.  It still had some pencil scribbles on the soft brown finish; the pine drop-leaf table that had been a wedding gift from my sister; four restored wooden kitchen chairs; the divan with the faded, blue-flowered cover, a recent yard-sale purchase.  It would fold out into a bed for Brendan when he came to visit; the old blue metal steamer trunk that held the bed and bathroom linens.  I sighed with regret that I could not take the big old oak desk.  I could sure use it for my studies, but there was no way that it would fit into the one bedroom apartment.  The little laminate one that Mom bought me would have to do.

In the awkward moment after the last box had been removed from the truck, he wished me luck, his eyes avoiding mine, and disappeared up the stairs, leaving Brendan behind to help me with the unpacking and setting up.  That was it then; twenty-two years of struggling through life together and this was how it would end. Well, best get on with it.

Brendan and I spent the next few hours organizing my space.  I wasn’t yet familiar with my new neighbourhood, but we found a convenience store where I picked up a few kitchen staples like bread and milk and juice.  Dinner was a sub from the snack bar.

“So what do you think?  How do you like my new digs?”

“Yeah, it’s cool.”

At fifteen, Brendan was a lad of few words even at the best of times. I wanted so much to reach inside to see how he was taking all of this, but the door was closed tight.  I’d given him the choice of moving with me, but silently agreed that it was for the best when he decided to stay on the farm with his father.  He had only two more years of high school left.  He was somewhat of a loner and giving up the few friends he had to start anew in an unfamiliar city would have been even harder on him.  Still my heart ached for him. The next day we drove the fifty miles back to the farm in near silence.  A quick hug and he was gone.  I sat for a minute and looked at the weathered boards on the addition to the old stone house.  I thought about the warmth and coziness of the fire in the stove, the restored old light fixtures we’d picked out at my father-in-laws antique shop, and the gleaming pine boards on the floor, all just inside the door where Brendan had entered.  All of it was gone from me now.

Brushing the tears from my cheeks, I shifted the car into drive and headed down the lane, beginning my return journey alone.

*******

I soon settled into my studies, and much to my surprise, I enjoyed it.  I’d never before been much of a scholar, barely getting by.  At the end of the first semester I was in the top ten of my class.  I made friends with a group of “mature” students, and we all supported each other. For a time I was even flattered by the attention of one of the male students who followed me around like a puppy dog.

Now, fifteen years later, I look back on those twenty-two years of my life as if I’m looking at someone else, and I recognize that the day I carried the last box down the stairs into that little apartment was the biggest turning point of my life. My Old Oak Desk can vouch for that!

In the Blink of an Eye


My plan, last month, was to start writing blog posts about the preparations needed to take a trip to China. On September 25th, one week from today, we were scheduled to join a twelve day tour with friends of ours. We’d booked this trip through the local Chamber of Commerce back in May, and until three weeks ago we were counting the days.

But, life can change in the blink of an eye. On Tuesday, August 23rd, Jim and I walked across the soccer field to the Hastings Field House to play pickleball, something we’d been doing three or four times a week all summer long. I was feeling fit and strong and happy.

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Hastings Field House

Two hours later I was lying on a bed in the emergency room at our closest hospital. At the time I wasn’t clear how it had happened, but somehow I’d thrown myself off balance while trying to hit a ball, and before I could move an arm or leg to catch myself, I landed on the floor with such force that it knocked the wind out of me. My right hip hurt and I couldn’t put any weight on my leg, but I couldn’t believe that it could possibly be broken, because it didn’t hurt all that much. I sat in a chair and watched while someone else stepped into my place and the game was finished, at my insistence.

However, when they tried to get me into a truck to take me home one movement caused me to gasp and suddenly I had no control over my leg or foot.  I had to admit that it was more than just a bruised hip. I was still optimistic, hoping it could be a dislocation that could be easily remedied. Instead of going home, my friend drove me to the hospital while Jim followed in our car. X-rays were taken of my hip and the conclusion wasn’t good – a fracture. They’d hoped to transfer me to Peterborough Hospital for surgery later that day. I had to fast until they learned that it wasn’t going to happen.

It was Thursday morning before I was loaded into a patient transfer wagon for the rough, hour-long trip. At 7:00 that night I met my surgeon outside the Operating Room. I was going to require a whole hip replacement! My optimism went out the door.

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Off to Surgery

I asked if I’d still be able to go to China in a month’s time. One nurse in the Emergency Room had told me that I’d be up walking the day after surgery, after all.

“Not going to happen,” said Dr. Lever. “You would have to have a load of blood thinners on board because of the risk of blood clots, and your extended health insurance wouldn’t cover you if anything happened as a result of this surgery. Do you have cancellation insurance?”

“Yes.”

“I’ll sign whatever forms you need to get your refund.”

“We usually leave for Arizona the middle of October, in the motor home.”

“Sorry, I don’t recommend that either.  You should stick close to home until your full twelve-week recovery period is up, for the same reasons.”

As they rolled me into the operating room, just before the anesthesiologist did his job, a few tears escaped from my eyes.

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What my new hip joint looks like

The Emergency Room nurse was right – I was up walking with a walker the next day, but it was obvious that there was no way I’d be ready to do any hiking in China in just four weeks, other risks or not.

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Third Day: Sitting up in a chair, filling out forms

By Sunday I was out of hospital and on the road to recovery, but instead of completing preparations for our trip to China, I’ve been filling out forms to get a refund for it through our Cancellation Insurance, and cancelling the extended health insurance. We will also have to adjust our insurance and our arrival dates for Arizona, but we will go. And maybe next year we’ll go to China.