Wednesday, April 01, 2015

An April Fool

Looking back over my half-century of living, I try to recall what might have happened to me in previous Aprils.

During my school years, this would have been the time when I ventured outside with classmates. There I would have watched them race about and have a good time while I sat in the shade with a book until a teacher forced me to "go play."

Or maybe it would be the year I was 11, sixth grade, I think, and Ann Jones and I would be singing while we sat on the swings. Our favorite song to sing together? Seasons in the Sun. "We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun, but the hills that we climbed were just seasons out of time."

Now it's my freshman year of high school, and as I approach my bus, a girl steps out nowhere and accuses me of stealing her boyfriend. He has asked me to the prom. I tell her I didn't know he was seeing anyone else. She slaps my glasses off my face and they skid across the parking lot. I hit back, and the next thing I know we are in a fight, punching, kicking, hair-pulling, the whole bit. Kids gather in a circle, urging us on, until two bus drivers pull us apart. Some nice girl I do not know hands me my glasses, now scarred and scratched. My attacker apologizes the next day, apparently having had a discussion with the boy in question, and informs me that I packed quite a wallop when I punched her in the stomach.

Now it's my junior year of high school, and me and my band are jamming it out on a Friday night, playing at some moose lodge or another. Too young to drink the beer, but old enough to entertain.

A year later, and I'm thinking about graduation. I'm an honor student, graduating 4th in my class, and chosen to be a student speaker on this most auspicious day. I'm worrying about upcoming tests, lazing about on the front school yard on a nice day with Advanced Placement English Class, vying for English honors as well as overall honors. I get them, too.

It's 1982, and I am dunked in the lake at Camp Fincastle as I am baptized into the Church of the Brethren. The water is freezing.

Now it's 1983. I'm dating this fellow I met the previous October, wondering what he is waiting on. I'm taking night classes at the local community college and working part-time at a law office. I've recently recovered from a bad case of mononucleosis.

A year later, and that fellow and I've been married a few months. Our main goal: get out of this freezing four-room old summerhouse we spent the winter in. We luck out and move into one of his grandmother's rentals.

Now it's 1987. We've found house plans we like. Interest rates are 13 percent and the economic gurus say "they will never be lower" (shows what they know, eh?). We take out a loan. Construction begins.

It's 1989. There's pain in my abdomen, again. I go in for another surgery. The odds of us having children dip. Surgery will follow surgery for the next several consecutive years, until 1992, when a hysterectomy ensures I will be childless.

Now it's 1993. I'm finishing up at Hollins College, the first in my family to obtain my B.A.  

It's 1995. My husband is working hard at his three jobs - farming, firefighting, and septic tank installation. His dad has had a heart attack, but he keeps working. I start freelancing from home.

Four years later, my mother takes a trip to France. Upon her return, she complains of stomach pains. We think it's from being overseas.

The following year, in 2000, my mother is living via a feeding tube, having had a surgery to remove cancer from her pancreas. The chemotherapy isn't working. The cancer spreads; she dies that August.

It's 2007, and my maternal grandmother is in a nursing home, having progressed from assisted living. She's had a few small strokes, and sometimes she doesn't know me when I visit. She dies in June.

Two years later, my editor at the newspaper I've written for since 1985 calls me and asks to come to see me at my home. He tells me the newspaper is in financial trouble; I no longer have any work from him. We sit in my living room in a silence palatable with grief.

Another year passes. It's 2010. My father-in-law's health has declined; he's on oxygen. I see a black swan on the pond and wonder if it is an omen. My father-in-law dies in July.

Two years later, I'm once again preparing for a graduation. This time I will receive my masters degree from Hollins University (same school but it underwent a name change). I am studying hard and wondering what, exactly, I will do with this degree.

It's 2013, and I am dreading turning 50 in a few months. Something in my heart tells me it won't be my year. I have lunch with an old friend, a former teacher from my high school years, who listens to me whine about growing old.

And now here it is, April 1, 2015. I'm almost two years recovering from what was supposed to be a simple surgery in July 2013. I walk with a cane; I can't lift heavy objects or vacuum my own house. I still write some, but I move around frequently, unable to sit or stand for long spells. Up and down, up and down, that's how my day goes. My time is now spent in the physical therapist's office. I do a lot of reading.

This April I am grateful, though, that I have what health I do, that I have good and loving friends, and that two of my healthcare providers are working with me to improve my health. My husband of 31 years has recovered almost 100 percent from a horrific farm machinery accident last summer, something for which I am very thankful. My brother has proven to be a great ally, and I am grateful for that, as well.

So if you must play jokes on me, April, then play away. I have survived 51 Aprils. I can hardly wait to see what this April has in store.


  1. I have never played an April Fool's prank on anyone and thankfully no one has done it to me.

  2. What a sumary. You must not like April all that much. Life has played its April fools jokes on you. Hugs...


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