I met my boss, Ann, when I was a sixteen year old working at Friendly’s. She was attending George Mason and was one of the assistant managers. She’s been my boss for a LOOONG time. Our paths crossed again my first year out of college. I took a second grade teaching position at Dranesville Elementary, (Dave was also a first year teacher there that year but that is a story for another day) and Ann was teaching fourth or fifth grade at the time. Fast forward a decade or more and I hear through the grapevine that Ann is now the principal at Herndon. I shoot her a quick email of congrats and that started the ball rolling to me rejoining FCPS after a 16 year hiatus. I’ve already waxed poetic about how much I love my job so I won’t bore you with all of that again – but I really do love my job! Needless to say, I am very grateful to Ann for encouraging me to come back to teaching and creating an ideal situation for me.
Dave and I decided that the week of New Year’s we wanted to take a three day trip somewhere with the kids. Our plan was to get the green light from his doctor that Monday and then head to NYC Thursday-Saturday. Last Monday as we were sitting in the infusion suite at Hopkins looking at theater tickets online, we overheard from another “pod” the weatherman on the TV saying that it was going to be 16 degrees, windy and snowy in New York. It didn’t take much discussion to decide that we would go somewhere else. We spent the rest of our time discussing options, but didn’t really come up with anything so we figured we would discuss it with the kids when we got home. Later that afternoon, I posted on Facebook asking friends for suggestions of destinations. Many of them were for either an indoor water park or tubing. Parker and Grant would LOVE either of those options but with Sammi’s OI, she wouldn’t have much that she could do either place. So, in the end we thought we would head to Williamsburg or spend a night or two at the Hyatt Chesapeake. The problem with Williamsburg is that we have been there a lot so it hardly felt novel. And the issue with the Hyatt was that we weren’t sure there was three days worth of stuff to do in the cold weather.
That evening, I got a message from Ann offering up her house in Colonial Beach. She mentioned there was an indoor pool. I thought “Oh that’s nice. The community has an indoor pool.” A few email exchanges later, I realized she meant her house had an indoor pool. With a screen and projector for watching movies. We happily and eagerly took her up on her generous offer. Colonial Beach is less than two hours from our house. We were able to explore the town on the golf cart. We read and watched movies and swam and listened to music. We napped and snacked and played games. With Dave feeling run down after his chemo infusion it was the perfect getaway spot. Grant’s friend, Sean, had been with us for the week so we just brought him along with us. Parker also brought her friend, Paige. There was a little excitement when a bird hopped into the house through the doggie door, but luckily he quickly flew his way to freedom through the back door.
So, once again, I am reminded how lucky I am to have a boss who is a friend or is it a friend who is my boss? Either way, I am grateful.
I wasn’t going to write anything tonight because frankly I am tired. But my mind is spinning with thoughts so I decided that this might be a good way to slow the old thinker down. I had a GREAT day. I worked with different groups of first, second and fourth graders on assorted activities. All of the kids were engaged and excited about what they were doing. The first graders brainstormed what they are going to teach their peers about recycling and Terracycling based on a lesson I did with them last week. They are so excited to be the “experts”. I worked on observation skills with two very different groups of second graders who were equally insightful and amazing. I taught a lesson on the design cycle to the fourth graders all while holding Sandy, the corn snake. The kids amazed me with their designs, teamwork, enthusiasm and focus. I also wrote my first grant application. Fingers crossed that they will pick my application and give the school some money! Tonight when I got home, I sat down and reflected on a professional development book that the resource team is reading. I made a mind map that reminded me of the fun GUIs from the movie Stranger Than Fiction. Professionally and intellectually, I would give today an A+.
Dave had a very different day. He spent the day getting treatment #12 of his Folfiri and Ramucirumab combo. When he entered the infusion suite and sat down in his chair, he thought at first that there was a young boy sitting in the chair next to him. It turned out to be a very tiny, frail woman. Dave said her hair was very very short, and she had a blanket pulled all the way up to her bruised sunken eyes. Over the course of the day, he got to talking to her as seems to happen when you are sharing the same pod for many hours. He found her to be the most positive and uplifting person. What a stark contrast to the lively, healthy children by whom I was surrounded today.
Dave was exhausted when he got home tonight. He stayed awake long enough to eat dinner and then headed back to bed. During that brief time, we shared about our days. A crazy disparity.
I am the “bury your head in the sand” type. If I had to pick a movie character who best personifies my personal philosophy, it would be Scarlett O’Hara. I firmly believe in “I’ll think about that tomorrow.” I can’t stand making phone calls to various service providers or medical billing offices, so I tend to delay as much as humanly possible. However, what Dave’s diagnosis has done for me is give me the firm kick in the pants that I needed.
In order to prevent Dave from using unnecessary time and energy on things that I can handle, I have tried to take on most of the responsibilities around the house. In order to make it manageable, if something is not urgent, then it will get added to the list of things to do on Tuesdays and Fridays which are my days off from work. This satisfies both the procrastinator in me and the newly improved take charge version.
My voice is stronger than it has ever been. My tendency is to be relatively non-confrontational. Dave’s diagnosis has given me wings to speak more confidently and boldly when needed whether in discussion with a doctor or with someone who has asked my opinion. However, I don’t think I will ever be the “I’m going to say it whether you like it or not” type. That seems very self indulgent to me.
The other thing that Dave’s diagnosis has done for me is get me back teaching. Dave and I had a good discussion after we went to Johns Hopkins for a second opinion. He told me that it was important to him that I have my certification up to date in the chance that I would need it. That he would feel better knowing that I could work if I had to. So, my credentials are current, and I lucked into a fantastic teaching job. Working part time is going to be so much better for our family this year. STEM education is the push right now, and I feel fortunate to be getting involved when it is at its fledgling stage in our school and county.
So while cancer SUCKS in every way imaginable, it has pushed me in new directions which were much needed and long overdue.
PS I like to think that I am actually more like Carol Burnett’s version of Scarlett.