Stroke Victim at 49

25 July 2007

Been awhile

I know it's been awhile since my last blog. BVetween teaching summer school and getting rejected by CPS schools, I've been pretty crazy. I just wish it were easier to have a decent paying teaching position. When you are paid 15-20K below that of a starting teacher in a public school, it really sucks. And of course you do twice the work with no benefits. Why do I continue with this maddness you may ask? Because I LOVE teaching. I know what I was meant to do. Sure I get crazy and frustrated sometimes but it is still the right fit for me.Since I have low level learners I wanted to make US History sink in.

I decided to teach WWII to Present, as it is only 4 weeks. It was amazing how taken my students were with "The Pianist". They begged to watch it 3 TIMES! I know it was not to just watch a movie, we actually discussed it and the political and military situations surrounding it. It was such a raving success we used "Saving Private Ryan" for the American view of the war. It was wonderful being able to disuss the U-Boats and JFK being a commander on one. They watched the war in a new way, relating it to the war going on in Iraq. I really felt like I was getting through to them.That feeling is why I love teaching. We have good days and bad days.

As we moved to the 1950's I brought in sheets of slang words from the 50's and had them describe an average story of their own replacing their slang with 50's slang. They loved it. One student said he was going to bring some of the words back into style.These are young adults from a very poor urban area. Most of them have done jail time. To watch them enjoy learning (without realizing they are actually doing it) makes my heart burst. Will they ever memorize all of the President's of the United States? Problably not. But what they will have is some historical resarch skills and a firm grasp on the culture of the US, at least in the 1940's and 1950's.

08 July 2007

Arrakis-3 years ago

I was looking for a paper I'd written about the Enola Gay, to share with my class next week. While searching I came across something I'd written almost three years ago. (I still cannot believe it has been three years)I do not even remember writing this. But for my dearest lost love, a tribute:


Waiting for the inevitable is always difficult. Oppression of a heavy heart while attempting to produce a seemingly productive day weighs me down as I ascend the steps to my third floor apartment. Today would be the day. The finality of a gut feeling that today would be the day.

For months the signs have been there. Life has a way of assisting in the blindness of what is nearest to your heart. I was fortunate enough to have enough distractions to overlook sickness and sorrow. Now as each step brings me closer to what I've been avoiding for the past four months, the soon to be emptiness of loss.

The key turned softly in the door. I dared not look in the corner of the kitchen. Rather, I deposited my bags and sweater beside my desk, turned on my pc to check the day's e-mail and thought of what may await me in the kitchen. With resignation I stood, and slowly entered the kitchen.

She was there, sleeping in the same corner she'd occupied for the past month. The towel that I'd covered her with this morning still draped over her. Lightly I touch her head and she raised it slowly. My dear sweet friend is slowly leaving me. I begin to feel the sting of tears that have continually fallen since the beginning of the end.

Almost twenty-one years with a friend seems to have gone by so quickly. I look at the face of a love and comfort in my life as she suffers and awaits her own passing. I lay down on the floor beside her, not knowing what more I can do. I pet and comfort her, hoping that she knows I am still here. That she is not alone.

Something was wrong with her, I knew it in May as summer approached. It started simply enough with calling her and her non-response. My husband reminded me that she was getting older and it was normal for hearing loss. She moved a bit slower but was still the beautiful girl I'd always known.

By July she began loosing her sight. Normally dainty and refined in movements, she had begun to bump into walls. I began tapping on the floor to get her attention for food and affection. The one thing I didn't want to do was completely handicap her by carrying her from one place to another.

She began spending all of her time on the rug on our son's floor. Only moving to eat, use her facilities and return to her area on the rug. Our son began covering her with a towel to keep her warm through the night. I felt as if it provided some comfort to her as an arm protectively holding her.

Distractions came easy for the month of August and into September as I began full-time student teaching while maintaining a reading class, volunteering at the park and raising a son. Each day brought new adventures, tales and life. As my life progressed hers deteriorated. A once proud and undefeatable defender of my youth slowly began her final stages into death.

September brought other tears to shed, as her back legs no longer supported her. Her days were confined to the kitchen close to her food and water. Every evening I would spend a few moments sitting beside her on the floor, crying for what I knew the outcome would be. Towards the end of the month she refused to eat and only drank if her head was held up to drink. My tears never seemed to dry. During the day I was "on" with a smile on my face and command in my voice. The end of the day was spent watching the listless form on the floor that resembled my dearest friend.

Often I would talk to her, letting her know I was there for her and it was okay for her to let go. I apologized for the pain she was going through and damned myself for not taking her in for a slight pinprick to end her pain. I don't know if she suffered for she rarely cried out. When she did cry I cried, put my arm around her and repeated that she was not alone.

Now as I lay here next to my dear friend I cry for the life that will not be shared with her. I cry for the loss our son will feel and most importantly for the void that will be left in our lives. She'd managed to survive an apartment fire twenty years ago, travel from one apartment to the next with me and finally across the country and back again, always beside me and always accepting.

My husband and son came home that night to find me still at my post, lying beside her. My husband spoke to our son, though he knew she was sick, the comprehension of what would be the end washed new tears down his cheeks. Our lovely son took my post for an hour or so. He'd drawn a beautiful picture for our fallen soul. As the night progressed I felt the need for solitude and reflection with her.

Alone in the kitchen I spoke to her of our life together. I spoke of how many wonderful memories were shared with one another. I whispered that it was okay to let go. She had a wonderful life. Over and over I kept repeating, "You are not alone". When her final breaths were upon her I laid my head close to her, looking into her eyes and held her paw in mine. I hurt from watching her take her last gasps yet did not want her to die alone. I stared into her eyes as her breaths became more and more infrequent until her last gasp. I held her eyes and knew the moment she passed. I sat up and sobbed, holding her close to me, knowing she was no longer there.