Saturday, October 06, 2007

Who is this woman?

Yale Law Library and a FINE
example of University Gothic
architecture. Summer 2007.

Check out the size of the school bus at the
Sabine Mine in Texas where I went in 2006.

Some of my blog friends haven't really met me in person and are a bit vague on the details of my life, so if you know me really well, please hang with me as I introduce myself to some fans who don't know me as well.

I'm a person who has lived life at a fast pace. I got married at 19, had a daughter at 24, and was divorced at 26. My ex-husband was a minister in the Christian Church (independent, non-denominational church loosely affiliated with the Disciples of Christ). Our daughter was 2-1/2 when he decided his life needed to go in another direction. My daughter and I were warmly taken in and helped by his mother and father, thus continuing a life-long and deep friendship with my in-laws. Unfortunately, in 1983, my father-in-law, Bill, died due to complications from some medical testing. He was an extraordinary man and a part of my heart died with him. Betty, and I as two single women hung out together, traveled together and did a lot with Jeny (and subsequently her two half-sisters) just because it's more fun to do things with someone than alone. These years of being buddies, helped us both as we could do more together as a team than either one of us alone. She retired after the sudden, unexpected death of her son, and what was depression and grief soon became more clearly understood as Alzheimer's disease. My daughter, working toward becoming a midwife and married to a wonderful fellow in Bremen, Georgia helped Betty and I move to Bremen about five years ago, from our country home of 20 years. Betty still lives semi-independently, with help from me, my daughter and a part-time paid caregiver.

Over the years from the time of my divorce on, I wanted to go back to college and finish my degree so that I would have more career opportunities. In 1989 I cashed in my retirement and returned to college full-time when Jeny was 13. I finished my B.A. in Psychology, stayed to get an M.A. in Psychology, and then even went on to get a 6-year degree called an Ed.S. I had worked for many years at Georgia Tech as support staff, and was fortunate to get a professional job there after I finished college. I taught there for 11 years before taking a promotion to another university. Unfortunately my career path needed to take a U-turn after finding out I was not the right person at the right place at the right time, so I morphed myself into a K-12 teacher.

For the last 7 years I've worked at high schools teaching both self-contained and collaborative classrooms. Right now I'm on leave from Haralson County High School, located in rural Tallapoosa, Georgia. I love it there. The more suburban schools have many students who are street-smart and can be very challenging when it comes to deportment. I like teaching where I am because the students are not as effected or affected by the urban popular culture. I genuinely feel like I make a difference with my teaching. The last two years I've been teaching in the area of Social Studies, mostly World Geography, with occasional forays into U.S. History, and Citizenship and Economics. I like my colleagues, my school, and the content area that I'm privileged to work in.

Teaching, however, is a very demanding job that requires a lot, lot, lot of physical energy, walking, and constant effort from the point of arrival to the time you go to bed at midnight. I have been a strong-minded, and strong-willed person all my life and just knew that I'd be one of the people who could work through chemo. That was until the third day after my first chemo session when I hit the wall with a splat. The fatigue they talk about with chemo is unbelievably debilitating, and I knew I couldn't continue working. I'm presently on FMLA from work, and pray that somehow, someway I'll be able to return to my job after my treatment is completed. It's going to be a long road to recovery though and there are many uncertainties.

I love learning and so during the summers I look for teacher training opportunities. Two summer's ago I got to go to the Texas Mining and Reclamation workshop at the Sabine Coal Mine in Texas. It was an awesome week of learning science, particularly in the area of Geology (I have a minor in Geology so loved it.). This year I applied for a workshop on the Colonial Period of American History, and was accepted to spend a week at Yale University. I had a fabulous week at Yale and feel so enriched and so privileged to have gone there, been a part of that campus and learned from an eminent professor there. I did it as a part of The Gilder Lehrman Institute. It was fabulous. Just before I left was when I found the lump in my breast and called to make a doctor appointment for my return. If there is such a thing as re-incarnation, I want to be able to go to Yale in my next life, but I would like to qualify that wish by saying, I hope it's as a student, not a rat, roach or garbage collector! It's a special place in the world of learning -- almost holy.

So, I've lived through several career changes. I've really not had any special men in my life since my divorce. I attribute that to the fact that I've been overweight pretty much all my life, and most men want women who are more svelt. I'm also a person with a strong desire to learn, read, travel and maintain strong ties to family. That isn't always compatible with romance at my age either. So, it's me, the two cats (Romeo and Chelsea) and three goldfish (Doc, Baby & Gus). I'm the only person I know that was stupid enough to buy $0.29 goldfish and end up spending some serious money to keep them in an ideal growth environment. READ about fish before you buy them, not afterwards! I got them to please my grandson, and now they please me. I enjoy having them and watching them.

My family is small but very important to me. I try to keep my grandson on Wednesday nights so my daughter and son-in-law can have a date night. Recently I had started taking Liam to church with me, but as the chemo sucks the energy out of me, it's become less possible. I have a brother, sister-in-law and nephew that live in Juliette, Georgia. I don't get to see them as often as I'd like, but we talk often.

I am an Episcopalian and attend St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Carrollton, Georgia. I participate in a program called Education for Minstry (EFM) which is a bible study, history, philosophy class that runs for four years. This is year four for me, and although I know I'll have to be out some, I wanted to do it this year because I knew it might be most of my social time out. I'm also a member of a lay religious order, The Daughters of the King, which focus' on helping the priest at our parish and living out our personal religious vows. My hobby is Geocaching. It's a fun type of treasure hunt using a global positioning system receiver and information off the computer to find little caches (stashes) that are hidden around the world. I've met some of the nicest people in the world geocaching and very much enjoy the challenge of finding treasures wherever I go.

In December I'll turn 56, and somewhere around that time I'll be the grammy to a new little grandaughter. My daughter is a nurse midwife, and her husband (the nicest guy I know) is a professional who works in the field of community development for a nearby town.

I still try to help my mother-in-law though it's harder these days. Sometimes I can help, sometimes I can't. My high-energy grandson can visit with me some now, but I'm not really able to really keep him like I used to. I can't really go geocaching right now, so my geocaching friends are coming to me on the week before my 3rd chemo treatment when I should have a little bit of spunk in me. They warm my heart. While I can't really work, I am hoping to be able to occasionally do some light volunteer time at my church -- depending on my daily progress and levels of ability. Otherwise, I'm off in a world where there are many more unknowns than knowns. My energy levels are so incredibly diminished that just doing one errand in a day means I have to come home and nap. Right after the chemo for several days, moving or driving is not even possible. I'm fortunate to have most of the side-effects of some very nasty chemo, under medicinal control. I may have cancer but I am blessed with a supportive family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. I've tied a knot in my rope, and I'm hanging on. And I know, no matter what, that however things turn out, I'll stand on Higher Ground.


Anonymous said...

You are an amazing person. You are the definition of WOMAN!!! I will strive to pattern my life after you. I admire you sooooo much.I have a special candle that I lite every day for you. I think of you often and pray like heck that you over come this little boulder in your life. You deserve the best and the best is yet to come for you. We are all so lucky to have found you in this life time. At least I am.Take care of yourself, I wished I could be there to help you. But my thoughts and prayers are with you on a daily basis. Bless you. Marilyn (red)

Susan said...

Well, good to meecha! You have had a very busy life so far. Thanks for sharing a little background. Hang on to that knot in the rope, and hope you have a good week!

Mary Beth said...

thanks for saying howdy at the DOK list. Glad to know you and will be praying for you.