Much to our relief, the gnats are no longer a huge problem at our house although a few can still be seen. The orange and yellow leaves have mostly fallen, and the remaining leaves are mostly dull and brown. But infrequently a bright red maple will still show up in someone’s yard. There are two in Ken and Barbara Davis’ yard over on
Katherine seems somewhat stronger now and is gradually getting a fine fall staff in place. I have spent more time there at her house during the transition from the college girls who cared for her last summer followed by her hospitalization. I will still be on call for subbing even though I cannot really do the needed work lifting her. One thing I have learned is that I am a very poor nurse.
In the third and fourth grade (when we were not fighting), my best friend Bobbie Jo and I used to talk about wanting to be a doctor. I loved the play doctor’s kit I received for Christmas. Bobbie Jo and I were not sure women were doctors, so we said we wanted to do a doctor’s work but be called a nurse like her mother. Later after she moved away, I learned women could be doctors, and that was my ambition through grade school. My father was very encouraging, and I do not remember anyone being discouraging.
By high school, however, I changed my mind because I was not sure I could be a doctor and also have the family I wanted. (I was always captivated by dolls and played with them way past my girl friends’ tolerance.) Today I do not doubt that women can be very good doctors and good mothers at the same time.
Yet now I also recognize that I would not have been able to survive the difficult science and math curriculum that medicine would have required. So I think it all worked out well that I became a homemaker and a sometime teacher and writer. Yet I still hold those with medical knowledge in great respect—actually in awe--that they could know so much about the human body and the multitude of illnesses and problems that can damage it.
Now I have also learned to admire and respect those nurses and caregivers who are able to empathize and understand patients on a even more personal level than the patients’ doctors can in the brief time most get to see a patient. I know of some instances where nurses risked their jobs to step in and help a patient (sometimes behind the doctor’s back) when the nurse knew the doctor was making a mistake.
I especially appreciate the caregivers that lift and care for our daughter, who can no longer walk. An excellent new aide had to miss one day this week when her cousin, 36, unexpectedly died following a routine surgery. The cousin left behind four children, ages 7 through 21. And she was the one everyone else in their extended family received help and support from. Without insurance, her family is having a benefit tomorrow, so Katherine’s aide will again be needed by her family in her hometown.
In the meantime, Gerald and I have just returned from a benefit for a young couple who grew up in our community. The benefit was planned before this outstanding man, who was in our youngest daughter’s class, passed away after months of battling bladder cancer—during which time he lost his mother also to cancer.
Just as the family thought things were going better after surgeries and treatment, he had a seizure, and it was discovered there was yet another inoperable tumor on or near his skull. They had insurance, but months and months of travel and treatment are beyond most families’ ability to endure financially. This man and his young wife, who cared for him through this ordeal, were also the kind of community-minded people that many depended upon. Their work with scouts and servicemen and in their church at Woodlawn will never be forgotten. Their cousins, neighbors, and classmates here in Crab Orchard worked hard preparing the barbecue meal, auction, cake walks, and raffles to exhibit their love and concern for Ron and Beth and their two children.
When I turn on the television, I see the horror that nature has done to millions in the Northeast. One announcer started his report the other day by saying to us viewers across the nation: If you have electricity, you are lucky. He was so right. When I see the destroyed homes and realize the hunger and cold that many families there are suffering, I wish I were both rich and young and strong, so that I could go help.
We will write a check to the Red Cross as so many others already have, and I will feel enormous gratefulness for the ones who go in to clean up and help just as people did and still do at