Posted by: Kimberly Dredger | March 23, 2010

Things that scare me

Today, as a part of my scheduled long walk, I walked by the cemeteries.  No, neither the Catholic Cemetery nor the Missoula Cemetery frighten me.  In fact, I have friends and family in each of them, and all of my life I have loved visiting these lovely, calm and quiet places, remembering those wonderful people who aren’t here anymore.  And even though I want to be cremated and have my ashes spread in a Montana stream, or on a Montana hillside where I could hear meadowlarks sing, I do not think it would be a bad thing to spend eternity in one of these shady, cool memorial parks.  Missoula should be proud of her cemeteries.  No, death doesn’t frighten me.  As John Donne said, so many centuries ago, “Death, be not proud.  Though some have called thee mighty and dreadful, thou art NOT so.”  No, it isn’t the thought of my own death that keeps me awake at night.

But there are things that scare the livin’ bejeezus out of me.  The first thing that comes to mind is not my own death, but the possibility of Jim’s death.  I’ve lived as a widow before, and know that I simply don’t have it in me to do it again.  That’s a given.  

The next two things I am afraid of are best illustrated by telling you about two wonderful women that Jim and I had the blessing to know and love, one we were related to by heart and one by blood.  Interestingly enough, these women were a great deal alike in many ways.  They each weighed about 100 pounds soaking wet, and they each might have been all of 5 foot 2 if they put on their elegant high heeled dancing shoes.  And each of them did have elegant high heeled dancing shoes, because each of them loved dancing with their best beau.  Jim’s grandmother, one of these lovely ladies, had a wish and prayer that was equally heart-felt by the other lady, Grace.  Grandma said many, many times that she prayed that her mind and her body died at the same time.  Unfortunately, it didn’t happen for either of these dear ones.

Grace’s mind was as sharp as a tack until the very last.  Her eyes would sparkle and she would laugh as she would tell stories!  Grace and Earl gave marvelous parties, even up to the end, and Grace kept a book wherein she recorded every party, who came, what was served, and the preferences of each guest.  So, if you were ever at one of their events, even just for cheese and crackers, I know what you drank and what you ate, because I still have that book.  Organization might have been invented in Grace’s kitchen.   But Grace lived the last ten years of her life in her recliner.  I do not mean that she slept there, or spent most of her time there, I mean that she lived there.  Grace would haunt me for sure if I told you the details of how she kept herself so clean and well-dressed, so I won’t.  You can imagine.  You see, Grace’s spine was virtually gone, attacked first by arthritis, and then cancer that had metastasized from her stomach.  Living this way was frightening.  Death for our Grace was a release from deep pain.

On the other hand, Jim’s lovely grandmother was very active all her life.  She could still log miles, even weeks before she died.  Grandma had worked and lived in the New York City until she moved with Jim’s family to Long Island, and then she commuted to the city with my father-in-law.  Grandma lived with her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren for more than 35 years.  And Grandma loved to walk.  She would walk to mass, walk to the grocery store, walk to the Seniors’ Center.  And then it started to seem that Grandma’s mind wasn’t quite there.  At first, it was kind of sweet and a little funny, like the time Mom and Dad and Grandma were driving to Florida, and Grandma elbowed Mom in the back seat and whispered “Who’s that crabby guy, driving the car?”  But then it became very frightening for all of us, especially to her.  She believed she had been kidnapped, and only wanted to go home.  She would tell my mother-in-law, “Please, you are very nice.  But I just want to go home to my daughter, Barbara.”  And Mom would say, “But, Ma, I AM Barbara.”  OH, yes, there are things more frightening than death.

But both of these ladies, grieved and missed though they are, lived good long lives.  How much more frightening it would be to be a young police officer, deprived of his mobility through a spinal cord injury.  Or a young mother, only wanting to raise her children, but not able to run or walk or hold them.  Or children born with spina bifida.  These are things for which the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation is working to find a cure.  There are many things in this world that are very scary.  Not all of them can be helped.  Let’s do what we can to fix the ones that can.

I know this was a longer post than one is supposed to write.  Thanks for reading to the end of it.  Here are my recent miles:
3/20 – 3 miles at the first meeting of the RunWildMissoula Walk the Marathon Class.  Super!  There is still room if you want to join us!
3/22 – 3 miles, not counting a lovely stroll to lunch with friend Nancy Shrader and lovin’brother Bill at El Diablo  (Yum!)
3/23 – 10 1/2 miles Hurray!

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Responses

  1. Enjoying your posts! And, I always like hearing about the rich heritage of the people I know!

  2. Beautiful post… what a great descriptive writer you are – I feel like I know those two women!
    (And please don’t be afraid, as there will be someone special to care for you too if needed.)

    I know Nancy Schrader (she of the two daughters?) so say hit for me next time you walk with her.

    xo,
    Barbara

  3. My Darling Sister

    The miles add up but there are still more to go. When I was training my time on the road was my time. I was very jealous of it and could be quite unpleasant if it got side tracked.

    I am sure that you will find this adventure as one of the most satisfying you have ever experienced.

    Keep training the miles now will make the miles in the marathon that much easier.

    You Lovin Brother
    Bill


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