Teachers were asked at the Trail of Tears Institute how much they spent each year for class supplies out of their own salary. If you had heard their answers, your admiration for today’s teachers would increase. Some of these teachers were very young (possibly with student loans yet to repay) and with houses to buy and little children to support. Some were older with possibly older children in college. All were probably taking graduate classes and facing those tuition expenses. Yet every one of them spoke of spending a minimum of $300 to supplement their provided supplies. Some of the older teachers estimated they might spend $2000 or so. If it is true that your treasure is where your heart it, these teachers’ hearts are in their classrooms with their students. The very classroom we were sitting in was filled with books, posters, and all kind of learning accessories—all provided by that particular classroom teacher.
Some of us from the Illinois Chapter of the National Trail of Tears Association were meeting with these teachers who are preparing to use the Trail of Tears through Southern Illinois as their theme for this year’s project using original resources. There were interesting sessions and I was glad to be there for three of the four days of the Institute. I hated missing Tuesday, but I had other obligations that day. I also left at noon on Thursday and didn’t attend the field trip to the Crabb-Abbott Farm in Pope County. I knew from personal experience that Joe and Ethel Crabb would be terrific hosts for this field trip, but I needed to get back to the farm for a previous Thursday afternoon commitment.
As I drove home, I just relaxed and enjoyed the wonderful tree-covered hills between Vienna and Woodsong. New Burnside’s steep hills are one of my favorite spots in our region, and the leafy trees are at the height of their summer green glory. With responsibilities behind me, I looked forward to a deliberate agenda of doing as little as possible for a couple of days so that I would be ready to dig into my study of Vacation Bible School materials next week.
I had lots to think about as I drove home and most of it was pleasant. Gerry and Geri Ann had been at our house Monday and Tuesday nights, and Vickie had driven up with Ansley, a Southern Force player, on Tuesday. There had been fishing and playing with their new puppy Molly along with the visiting.
On Wednesday morning we had waved them off as they headed for the home run hitting derby that evening in northern Illinois. That would be followed by Thursday and Friday pool play for the tournament that started today. A phone call Wednesday night had reported that for the second year in a row, Geri Ann had won the home-run derby, and so as I drove home Thursday, I was eager to hear how they had done in their first games that day.
Gerald had a standing doctor’s appointment that morning, so I expected to hear that all his blood work and other tests would come back good and he would be feeling chipper about that. And I was hoping the doctor would do something positive about his shoulder that was hurting him. Erin was meeting with her surgeon to get her “stitches” out after her ACL surgery, and she was so excited. I was very happy for her.
Sure enough, Gerald was able to report at our late lunch that everything was good on his check up, and he would start taking some physical therapy on his shoulder next week. Later he reported Southern Force won their pool play games that day. I checked my Facebook messages and saw Erin’s happy report that she would be seeing the surgeon. I usually take a light supper into town on Thursday afternoons for Katherine’s family, so that David knows that one night’s meal is taken care of. At their house, Katherine told me with tears in her eyes that Sam had seen a later Facebook entry from Erin. She was in Carbondale Memorial Hospital because there was infection in her knee and she would have to have two more surgeries this weekend. Suddenly life had taken a scary turn, and I could no longer anticipate a pleasant weekend.
By bedtime, Vickie had driven down from the top of the state and was already sitting up with Erin at the hospital. I doubt that she got much sleep that night, because Erin was in enough pain to make her restless. Rick, her boyfriend, who is working nights this week, had already been up for 24 hours but was preparing to sit up all night too. But Vickie and Erin persuaded him to go home for a little sleep. He was back at the hospital very early the next morning as the first surgery was scheduled for that morning. Gerald and I arrived at the hospital by 9:15, and a lonely teddy bear with its leg in a bandage was the only occupant of her room. Erin was already long gone being prepped.
A helpful nurse took us to where Vickie and Rick were waiting. The four of us waited together, and a nurse would report to Vickie every hour or so. Finally before noon, the nurse reported the surgery was over, and the surgeon would meet Vickie to explain all that he had done. When that time came, Vickie invited us all to go into the consulting room with the doctor, and we heard him explain how he had flushed and cleaned out the infection. He had made the decision to put in “beads” which were infused with antibiotics so that Erin would have the antibiotic right on the site of the infection as well as antibiotics given through the veins. Because of this, the second surgery would be tomorrow rather than today so that the “beads” could continue their work a little longer. The cultures taken on Thursday would not be back for a day or two yet, so a general spectrum antibiotic would be used until they knew what specific one to use. And we will be holding our breaths until then.
While Erin was in the recovery room, we left to meet friends for lunch that had already been planned before Erin’s bad news. Afterward, a phone call to Vickie told us that Erin was back in the room and it would be okay for us to come in and see her. We stopped at the gift shop to get a couple of roses to take up, and Rick came in to buy a beautiful balloon bouquet to go with the teddy bear. In her room Erin was wide awake and quite pert and smiling entertaining one of this year’s top softball players, her Gma Shirley, and her Aunt Chris. We added our roses to Gma Shirley’s and visited a little while and said our goodbyes.
After one brief errand, we were back at the farm and Gerald and I both felt a nap coming on. He put a heat pad on his shoulder and sat in his easy chair and was soon fast asleep. His sleep has been interrupted lately by this shoulder pain, so I felt very glad he was inside in air conditioning instead of outside working as he usually is despite the extreme heat and the painful shoulder. He had taken one of his prescribed pain pills, and I was not surprised that he slept as long as he did. I had had a full night’s sleep, so my nap was not so long.
At supper, he complained he really did not feel good at all and felt feverish. When our kids were little, I could almost give an accurate temp reading with my hand. I cannot do that anymore, but a single touch of his forehead let me know that he had more than a little fever. I put a thermometer in his mouth and it registered over a 101. He slept through the evening, but had a very restless night, and at 3:30 I could tell his fever was higher. We both assumed we’d be looking up an urgent care center today since his doctor does not have Saturday appointments. Nor would we be going back to the hospital to visit Erin as she recouped and prepared mentally for tomorrow’s second surgery. (I have never understood the two surgeries, but from the Thursday appointment on, that was the announced plan.) She wrote on Facebook: “Surgery went well. In pain but surrounded with people who love me :)”
When I got to the breakfast table this morning, I was glad I had prepared the breakfast coffee as usual and laid out dishes because Gerald was there already dressed reading the paper he had walked down the lane to retrieve as he does every morning, and he had no fever. His pajamas had been damp when he woke up, and he said that he guessed this was what the old timers meant when they used the expressed “sweating out a fever.” The next thing I knew, he had changed into his overalls and was outside working with the weed eater. I think he did take a nap this afternoon while I ran into Katherine’s, but when I returned, he had already fixed himself a supper sandwich and was out on the lawn mower again for an hour or more.
Meanwhile, the Southern Force lost their game today in this single elimination tourney, so the rest of Erin’s Georgia family will be driving down tomorrow instead of Monday. I am sure everyone is sorry about the loss, but Gerry and Geri Ann are eager to be here to see Erin. Gerry told us on the phone that he had his grandson Aidan sleeping in his hotel room last night, and Aidan had already told him he is going to sleep there again tonight.
There is always good mixed with the bad if we look for it hard enough, and I am sure Gerry and Geri Ann have enjoyed seeing Tara and Bryan and those three charmers—Aidan, Maddux, and Payton. But it is difficult to concentrate on the good when you are waiting for cultures to be returned from the lab.
Catching up - It has been a crazy couple of weeks of deliveries, unpacking product, bar coding, pricing, breaking down boxes, watering plants, writing orders, filling ...
2 months ago