Chapter 25

After our stimulating dinner with Roland and Maureen Friday evening, the rest of our weekend had been slow and relaxing. With the weather warming and Spring officially on its way, the heaviest work Jody and I had to do was gather the winter debris remaining in the front yard and the back garden. Afterward, it was warm enough to sit on the verandah in a fleece rather than a parka. That was progress. March came in like a lion, correct” Jody wondered aloud. I nodded. “Then by my calculations next week will be beautiful, as it slides out like a lamb, n’est pas?” Jody’s obsession with the post Belle Époque literature led to her insert all the French words she knew, randomly, into conversation. Doing so elated Jody somehow and it was a pretty good indication she was in a good mood.

“I hope you are right. I am sick of winter. My bones can’t take any more cold. At least this coming week I am on afternoons so the frost may be gone by the time I have to poke my nose out the door.” Jody and I sat side-by-side, smiling at the odd passer-by and surveying our land until the sun dropped over the big tree across the road. The chill of its shadow threatened to drive us indoors. “We could move around back” I suggested. “Naw, I like the front porch.” Sometimes Jody missed the city and the front porch felt a little more urban, and noisy. When the sun dipped a few notches lower, there was only one option left. “Might as well go in.”

My week was uneventful, well as uneventful as crisis work can be. A bit of depression, a couple of suicide attempts and a naked guy in the parking lot. Pretty typical. No further problems with Frau Berwick, as Jody had come to call her, associating her with the Cloris Leachman character in the movie Young Frankenstein. Despite her apparent aversion to film, Jody loved movies and often made veiled or vague references to characters or scenes to accentuate her points or impressions of people. I, on the other hand, had an uncanny ability to remember exact scenes from old sitcoms like the Flintstones or the Dick Van Dyke show. The other day she Jody was complaining of a headache and I regaled her with reminiscences from The Beverly Hillbillies, including tales of Mrs. Drysdale and her regular ‘sick headaches’ at the hand of the Clampetts. Jody was skeptical though; she thought the nosy neighbor on Bewitched had the sick headaches. This was an intellectual impasse even the internet couldn’t solve.

The weather stayed warm and much of the snow melted away. I was inspired to get out and walk around town in the morning before leaving for my shift. The air smelled like mud; it smelled like Spring. Because the sidewalks were mostly clear, I was able to walk in running shoes, not boots. I celebrated this as some kind of victory over the elements. Bridie was scheduled for Friday afternoon and during my walk that morning I pondered her situation. I admired Bridie; she was tough. But is this really how Bridie feels or is it contrived to spare her family. From what I knew about Bridie, both could be true. She had done her research and understood the physiology of her cancer and the palliative options like radiation. She had researched hospice care and pain management. She seemed to keep a brave face around her kids and mostly her husband. Could I do the same, Hattie wondered.

What about regrets? My mind continued to wander. What would I regret? Certainly I regret many things I’ve done. And many things I haven’t done. Does Bridie have regrets? What dreams are fading; gone? How do you untangle all that? Which thread do you pull first, if any? What are the risks of leaving the ball of knots, or grasping the wrong thread and pulling the knot tighter? Does Bridie even have knots? If she does, does she want to untangle at them? A tangled ball can be a more comfortable nest. It was complicated.

Children were very much one of the complicaters. Without children to consider, I realized I couldn’t really put myself in Bridie’s shoes. What must it feel like to know that at a certain point this may be the last time you see your kids, speak with them. Yes, kids were a complicater. The sense of my own inadequacy for the task of supporting Bridie snuck up behind me and blindsided me. I just can’t grasp the depth of that aspect of loss. I wondered if I should bring it up with Bridie, maybe refer her to someone else who had kids and could relate. Viv would be a good bet but I also knew Viv would say that if I listened carefully and was ‘with’ the person I could relate. I was unconvinced. Maybe I should have this conversation with Viv, or Rudy. Or Bridie. Without realizing it, I was making my way down the incline to our street. Lost in my thoughts, I’d checked out for the whole section of my walk through the main part of town. Yikes, who might I have shunned? And, I am gonna be late!




My writing experience comprises, almost exclusively, academic papers and technical/ professional reports. However, I have lost faith in these methods as paths to real change. My doctorate is in Education, specifically transformative education and through my research and my work, I have come to the conclusion that people learn more through stories than journal articles. Therefore, instead of investing in the usual strategies for pedagogy, I am leaning toward fiction as a way to change minds about social issues and dilemmas. I believe stories can un-other social interpretations in a way I feel I have failed to in all my academic and professional writing. I hope to convey some alternate ideas about the work I have done for 35 years, as a mental health nurse, psychometrist, educator and administrator.

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