Really, where do I start?
March has been brutal, in like a lion, out like a lamb. It’s an old saying to describe the March’s weather and while it’s true in the upper Midwest that’s not the reference I am making.
It’s been a while since I started a post, even longer since I finished and published one. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write, it’s that I’ve been distracted and not sure what to say and write.
I’ve been thinking about what ‘making the days count’ really means the past few months going back to this this past summer. I’ve been a in writing drought of sorts. Four posts in six months.
A friend of mine recently shared with me that he thought I was ‘one of the most positive people’ he knew. The compliment buoyed my spirits at a time when I needed a boost.
It’s spring break and I am, or rather, we are in the Florida Keys for a week of rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. I know I am need of all three.
Four weeks ago, tomorrow morning, I opened my Five Minute Journal and was greeted by,
“Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.” Ann Brashares.
It was the day I knew, we all knew, was ahead of us.
I typed in the three things I was thankful for and the three things that would make the day an amazing day before getting ready for the day ahead.
I was talking to my brother while I drove to school for the Science Olympiad competition. He interrupted me to tell me he’d have to call me back, he had an incoming call on the other line.
When he called back a few minutes later, he told me what I already knew or suspected, that our mom had passed away peacefully earlier in the morning.
My mom had been ill for a while and her passing was not a surprise.
My mom and my brothers live in southeast Texas where we grew up. Late last summer, mom sold the home we grew up in and where she lived in for 51 years. She sold it because she could no longer manage the home, the gardening or the maintenance, like she wanted. I think she knew, too that it was time. She moved in to a senior’s only apartment complex.
We all helped her pack and move. In mid-August I flew down for a short weekend and helped sort and pack. The next weekend my two brothers and their families packed her home of 51 years, loaded into a U-Haul, and moved her across town to her new home.
A couple of weeks after moving, she fell. She was hospitalized and then was transferred to a nursing home in order to get stronger before being able to return home alone. A month later she was well enough and strong to return to her apartment. It lasted less than a week before she was back in the hospital, again. And then back to a nursing home to regain her strength. Except this time, she didn’t get stronger.
I was able to visit mom over the Thanksgiving holiday and talk with her and provide encouragement for her to get stronger. We played cards, Connect Four, and talked. Even though my second knee surgery was a week away, mom did the encouraging urging me to do the exercises and get stronger myself.
After Christmas, her health declined even further and I returned for a visit again in late January for a weekend to help my brothers move her belongings out of her apartment and into storage.
It was wonderful to see her, but I knew the time was coming. Time for our mom came Saturday, March 2nd some time before dawn.
I spent the first full week of March in Houston with my brothers planning our mother’s memorial service and grieving our loss together.
When I was putting my remarks for my mom’s service together, I thought of three words – orange, resourcefulness, and family. Over the past four weeks, I’ve thought of those words and many more which describe her life so well and what she taught my brothers and I.
Since then it’s been a whirlwind of sorts. Really, it’s been a whirlwind since late summer. My school and my students have been a rock.
So, I started. It’s a beginning. yesterday morning, I took off in the rental car. There are only two ways to go from where we are – east to Miami or west to Key West. I drove west across the Seven Mile Bridge and past Bahia Honda before turning around. I stopped at the approach to the old Bahia Honda Bridge, got out and walked around. I was intrigued by the remains of an old withered tree on the shoreline. Hurricane Irma had blasted the area in September 2017 and the roadside park was one of many of Irma’s victims. That lone tree along the Atlantic Ocean shoreline seemed to capture how I felt and how I feel.
It’s hard to put into words, but I know my mom would expect me to move on and make my days count. I am doing so and in the words of a friend, “Clay, you are the most positive person I know.” I have been looking to the positive and I have made the past week count in more ways than I can describe. There are a couple days remaining of spring break, another day here, then home and back to school.
I know I’ll continue to make my days count, it’s what mom taught me to do and to be: optimistic, resourceful, for family, and of course, orange. Making the Days Count, one day after another because that’s how they come.
What’s taken you a while to do lately?