Always Coming and Going

12744373_10154604932680760_7403575995305488275_nHonestly, it feels as if it’s all I do…go away and come back.  Friends in Florida make fun of me…tell me I travel WAY too much.  I tell them they should know my sister, Anne..she’s on the road way more than I am.

I loved being in Massachusetts (and loved coming back home again)  I left the airport and went straight to Center School.  I know so few people there now. Most of my gang has retired.  But there are still a few left and it was so good to sit and gab and laugh and get caught up.  Then, in the evening, I got together with some Center School friends (mostly retired).  So interesting.  Many of them are in their first year of retirement and are still trying to figure out how to spend all that unlimited time they suddenly have.   It IS tricky…that balance between being totally lazy and filling up your days with way too much activity.  And what’s too much for some is just right for others.  Guess we all need to find our own way.  That’s another thing friends make fun of me about … being too busy.  I don’t think I’m too busy…I think I’m fine (except the weeks that are WAY too busy)

Seeing family was bittersweet.  My mom is content and quiet, living out her days in a nursing home in Dalton where I really think she’s getting great care.  She sleeps a lot (except the days when she’s up and alert and totally “with it”).  My dad is still so sharp (crossword puzzle every morning) but his life has slowed down dramatically.  Some days he can do so much and other days he just doesn’t have the energy.  It was hard to see.  We celebrated Dad and Annette’s 40th Anniversary while I was there…five of the seven kids were there, some grandkids and some of Annette’s family.  I love family gatherings except it’s hard to get caught up with everyone when we’re in a crowd.  I was lucky …got caught up with Karen and Paula later at lunch and dinner on Monday.

I just finished a book..What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman.  It was incredibly painful to read.  Two stories in alternating chapters…one about a woman in the early 1930s who was put in an insane asylum in Seneca, New York when she was eighteen …put there by her father because he wanted her to marry his business partner’s son and she wanted to marry a young Italian immigrant.  These things DID happen back then.  The other story is about a young girl in the 90s …a foster child whose mother is in prison for killing her father.  Her foster mom is working on a project to document the lives of the people who were in the now closed, soon to be demolished, insane asylum in (of course) Seneca, New York.

The book got mixed reviews and I’m not sure I want to recommend it.  But here’s the thing…I couldn’t let it go.  I was up half the night listening to it.  (I had it on my iPod) I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I kept thinking of things to do so I could keep listening to it (clean closets, go for walks) So it got me hooked.  If you do read it, let me know what you think.

I went to the doctor’s as soon as I got home.  I just wanted her to tell me that my aches and pains from my bike fall were not a sign of some serious problem (cracked ribs or something broken) and that I just needed to be patient and eventually I would be able to get out of bed without having to talk myself into it for ten minutes and I’d stop feeling like I was 100 years old.  I really believed I was fine.  There were too many things I COULD do without pain (like almost all the yoga poses except lying down and getting back up).  She didn’t disappoint me.  Said I’d get better eventually…and I am.  I can even get out of bed without groaning.  Time to go for another bike ride!

I’m working on a Shutterfly book for Kate (similar to the one I did for Mary Anne a few years ago)  It’s a project…harder than Mary Anne’s because there are so many people I don’t know and I live in terror that I’ll put the wrong name with the wrong person.  But it’s so inspiring…she has touch so many lives and means so much to so many people.  It’s taking forever to do this but it’s a labor of love and honestly, I’m so glad I decided to do it.

Be well, my friends.  And enjoy the coming of spring (especially you people up north-I so didn’t love the rain and snow while I was there!)

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9 thoughts on “Always Coming and Going

  1. Laura O'Connor

    You are so fortunate to be able to travel and see all your friends and family!

  2. I wonder if by nature, teachers are motivated by a very real desire to make a difference in the world. That desire doesn’t end on the day we retire, so we individually must redefine how we quench this thirst in our next stage in life. Sometimes its literacy volunteer work or tutoring a child because making a difference in one person’s life is like saving a generation. Sometimes its expanding our own horizons with travel, friends, writing and learning. Sometimes it’s being with our grandchildren. Sometimes it’s appreciating the now. I think it is finding the balance that is so hard at first and different for all of us entering retirement age. I always admire your stamina.

    • Nina – I think you’ve got it just right! It’s probably why we went into “the teaching business” in the first place, and it doesn’t end with retirement (as I am quickly finding out, this year…). I, too, admire Mary’s stamina; and, Nina, I admire your insights!
      With love from “the other Nina” 🙂

  3. Would love to see you next time you are up here. Give me a call.

  4. Come see me next time. I’ll drive to Dalton!

  5. Ah, the joys of aging! But they’re balanced to some extent, as your experience proves, by knowing you’ve made a real difference in people’s lives. Sure am glad I spent my career teaching, and I know you feel the same.

  6. It was great seeing you! I don’t think you travel too much. As long as you are able, go for it! The aches and pains will be there whether you go or not. Getting old is sure not for sissies, is it? I may even retire one of these days…hmmmmm maybe when I am 81.
    Lou

  7. Hi Mary,

    I’m a reporter with BuzzFeed News in the UK and I see a lot of schools in the UK are still sending around the letter you originally wrote in 1999. I think it’s amazing that schools in UK are using your words to comfort their students 17 years later!

    Would it be alright if i did a post on it? Would you be able to talk to me about it in detail?

    If you have any questions I can be reached on phone at +447930077304.

    Yours

    • I’d be delighted to talk to you about the original letter and my thoughts in general about the over reliance on testing. Give me a call if you want at 1 941 408 0252

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