Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Marching On

Michael was happy to go off to Miss Doreen’s again when school started.  Doreen was very happy to see Mike again.  Doreen is a salt of the earth kind of person.  She is from Altoona, PA and is country folk.  Their family would often go up to the country for the weekend squirrel hunting.  “That’s good eatin’.  You’ens should try it,” she’d tell me.  Although I appreciated the offer, I would pass on the squirrel. 

Doreen had two children Cody and Bailey; both had strong personalities like their mom.  Babysitting allowed Doreen to be at home and involved in the kids’ activities like soccer and baseball.  She also participated in the PTA.  Michael had been with her since he was ten months old.  I felt very confident that he was in good hands there.

Jack was ready and looking forward to starting school again.  I had gotten a pager so that as soon as he walked in the door, he could page me and I would know that he was okay.  My school hours were 8:00-4:00 and Jack walked in the door about 3:30.  He was a little nervous about us being alone without Rick, but really, we were fine.

I started back on the Tuesday before Labor Day; there were four teacher workdays and the day after Labor Day was the first day of school.  Each year the principal started out with a staff meeting which was something I was dreading, but the sooner I got through it, the sooner it would be behind me.  I sat with my usual friends and everyone was pleasant and lovely.  After the meeting, it was off to the classrooms to get things set up for Open House at the end of the week. 

There was something about the rhythm of the school year that was helpful.  I also found that I loved the repetitive rhythm of going to church.  I suppose after living through the "storm of sickness." I was looking for something solid and reassuring.

Jack had some very good teachers and I met early in the year with them to discuss his needs and to give them the background on what he had been through.  I asked them to keep in touch with me and they did.  Jack is a “man’s man”.  He adores my brothers and all his uncles and seemed to idolize his male teachers too.  He was doing his homework and feeling more confident in class and his grades showed it. 

Jack continued to play Fall Ball in baseball which is the lighter season.  He liked playing but the stress of coming home, getting his homework and studying done, eating dinner and getting ready to play a late game or practice kind of killed his desire to continue on.  I found it extremely difficult to participate in the “World of Testosterone” that baseball is even in Little League.  At least with Rick around on the weekends, he could help Jack to navigate this world.  It is a tight-knit crew of men who coach and whose sons play.  It can be tough on a single mom.  Jack decided it would be his last season to play.  His aunts and uncles came to cheer him on as they had in the spring season when Rick was there.

At the end of the spring season after Rick had died, his team made it to the league championship game.  Both Matt and Jack got to play.  It was at that game that the coaches presented Jack with a plaque which was a league award given to the player who showed perseverance during the season.  It was a lovely gesture but I couldn’t help thinking that this was the “Dead Father Award”.  Jack would have been much happier not to receive the award under the circumstances.  He recognized it too, and later said to me, “Mom, they just gave it to me because Dad died.”  “I know honey; they’re just trying to do something nice for you,” I explained. He said, “I get it, Mom, but it doesn’t make me feel better.”

Day by day we were getting through that first year and we just marched on…


  1. Doreen sounds like a real gem. I'll never forget when Dan brought a squirrel home for dinner. Disgusting! I didn't even want the thing on my kitchen counter. He prepared squirrel and dumplings. Laura and I passed on dinner. Of course, Dan and Chris just ate it up. Yuck!

  2. Dearest Jane,

    I cannont begin to imagine how the journey changes for a child losing a parent...I am all too familiar with the journey for a parent losing a child...

    I read this story and my emotions ran the gamut from humor (the squirrel eatin')to hope to compassion. Your sons are so fortunate to have you as a Mom...someone to turn to, someone who LISTENS and helps them as they go forward on their journey.

    May God Bless!