Thursday, June 23, 2011

Life in the Slow Lane

First some housekeeping: Recently I returned from my 9th WVWriters, Inc. conference. The event is held annually at Cedar Lakes in Ripley, West Virginia. Every year I come home saying “That was the best conference ever.”

This year was no exception. It really was the best conference ever.

Being around like-minded people is energizing, refilling the creative well. And believe me, I never use phrases like that. I’m a journeyman (woman) writer, not a weaver of sumptuous words.

Seeing dear old friends and making new ones is priceless. I totally want to adopt the amazing couple, Doug and Telisha Williams, who entertained Saturday night with their own brand of Americana music. Everyone in the universe should check them out.

And instead of breaking down weeping when it came time to leave, I either avoided good-byes or did my best Mount Rushmore impression when faced with the partings.

It worked.

I remained dry-eyed all the way home to the prairie, 1,100 miles away.

Inside I was a soggy, blubbering mess, but all things are made sweeter by being laced with bittersweet.

One day after returning, I had foot surgery -- a tendon sheath sliced (or something like that) and toes pinned (my surgeon, the anesthesiologist, the nurses, the staff, the amazing PT who sent me to the surgeon… all rock), and here I sit. I’m ‘non-weight bearing’ for two weeks, hobbling horribly around on crutches. Granted, the end result will be less pain and much better mobility. My advanced years goal is to still be able to hike in Rocky Mountain National Park in my 80s, so more mobility is all good.

In the meantime… here I sit.

I always blame my husband’s Viking lineage for our older son’s wanderlust, but I too bear responsibility for Erik’s boundless energy. (As a holding on and letting go aside, said son is heading to S. Korea this fall for another study abroad program marking his third trip overseas.) I’ve written this before: When all the toddlers in our Arizona playgroup were happily rolling trucks in the sandbox and swinging on a tire swing, Erik was heading for the Mexican border.

When I was four my parents took my little sister and me to the Detroit Zoo to see a Tasmanian Devil all the way from Australia. I wouldn’t say I’ve exactly been a whirling dervish my whole life, but I don’t like to be still. If I didn’t like to eat so much and have peasant forebears, I’d probably be thin.

Being fairly immobile has been… challenging. That no one in my family has knocked me over the head and buried me in the backyard is a testament to their fortitude. My family deserves kudos.

During several scary tornado warnings the other evening my mother put a chair in the hall (which she had determined was the safest spot upstairs) for me and refused to go down to the lower level to our ‘storm shelter.’ I haven’t been this touched since she allowed me (the daughter of a public school administrator) to attend a Catholic high school when I was miserable at the public high school in the town we moved to right before my junior year.

In addition, my younger son is being nice enough to help me overcome my tendency to resort to not-so-nice language when I get frustrated. (There’s a financial incentive in it for him). And my husband is not bonking me over the head with my crutches when I get uber frustrated that the simplest tasks elude me.

My friends have also rallied. I have been touched by the gestures of those both near and far. Calls, visits, e-mails, texts, Facebook messages have inundated my heart. An arrangement of lilies worthy of a royal wedding grace my living room, thanks to my friend Ann Snider, the mother of four… who is holding on and letting go herself as her oldest son is on his LDS mission trip for two years. She is courageous indeed.

Another beautiful arrangement sits on my buffet, a gift from my longtime friend Susan Case. Susan coaxed me though Erik’s first trip abroad to Germany when he was only in high school. Her daughter had been a foreign exchange student several years previous.

Too numerous to mention are my many other supportive friends. It takes a lot to spend time, in person or virtually, with a cranky woman on crutches!

This morning I escaped for coffee with my exercise pals (that was my exercise!) and learned the sister-in-law of one of the women just fell off a horse when the saddle loosened. Broken ribs and a punctured lung resulted. Once again, I’m reminded to quit whining and remember how fortunate I am. I’m slated to be off crutches (I hope!) in another week and plan to have more mobility when I can stomp around in my Herman Munster boot.

In the meantime, maybe it’s time to enjoy life in the slow lane?


  1. Learning to slow down is an education, certainly. I hope you continue to heal quickly, Pam--at least by next year's conference!

  2. It is hard not to be able to do things you are used to doing. Since you can't go out gallivanting around, this may be the time to sit and start a new book. Get well quick!