In going through some old writing I had from grief seminars with the Centering Corporation in Omaha, Nebraska, I found a couple things I’ve held onto. It would have been in about 2002, when I turned 50 years old. A huge mark in a person’s life, but for me it was the dawning of some premature events.
I went on disability at 48, I was unable to continue working due to the condition of my spine. I continued working for five years, and just couldn’t physically handle sitting all day anymore. My work place was more than accommodating. The Babe and I were married about four years. He told me I didn’t have to work. It never dawned on me to quit.
The header photo is a collage I made of my feelings in 2002, depicting how I felt about being placed on LTD. It was very hard to adjust to. I’d been working for twenty years, got an education while raising my kids, bought my own home, and climbed the corporate ladder. I was approaching where I would get to have the time of my life. And my career ended. All the words dealt with my medical issue, which you “couldn’t see.” “Doing What I Love?” I hadn’t thought of anything. ” I am data,” spoke to there being no data on someone recovering from what I had. I was written up in medical journals, complete with a digital photo of my arachnoid cyst squeezing my spinal cord. The pain was unbelievable. And for the big 5-0? I went on MEDICARE, for crying out loud. Fifteen years early. I was embarrassed. I certainly did not look 65. I felt I had no control over anything. I finally learned to grieve properly about that loss, and adjust to my new life. Thank you, Joy Johnson Brown and Dr. Mary Hansen! You ladies have taught me so much about living.
There was a session about expressing grief. It was through poetry. As nearly as I can remember, I must have written a poem about My Dad’s Hands. I’ll leave you with these thoughts.
MY DAD’s HANDS
Big, Outstretched, and Warm
I always felt safe
When Dad reached down
and took my small hand in his.
Crossing the street
Into the Doctor’s Office
Upstairs a million steps to the dentist’s smelly office
I knew he would protect me.
As I grew, I noticed
the nicotine stained fingers,
the Pressman’s ink,
the Mechanic’s grease,
and I saw some of his many talents.
His beautiful signature
The thousands of books he’d read
The golf clubs he treasured
The grandchildren he’d held after
He was sure they wouldn’t break.
How cold and small they seemed
With the IV’s inserted
As that modern plague Cancer
Sucked the breath from his lungs,
But not the love for him from my heart.