On My Doorstep

Let’s just call her Jan. We worked together for several years and hit it off well enough to socialize often in our free time.  She was very athletic, a free spirit and raised way up north.  I was a quiet type and grew up on a farm. She was a risk taker and rather wild and I was a dependable stick in the mud. We taught together and had the common experience of taking care of our students and doing our best for our employer.

She ran the sports clubs, dance programs and I did the drama club, girl’s social club and other things like that. Being close in age, both married and animal lovers we had some things in common . We made each other laugh.

When I was expecting a child and thinking about soon going on maternity leave she walked into my classroom and told me I had to help her finish off the school year by taking over one of her sport clubs,the volleyball team . Laughing at the idea of me taking over her club I soon realized she wasn’t kidding. Looking just like she always did, strong and lively, long blonde hair swinging, and a half crooked smile on her face she told me she had MS.

Very quickly she did a couple of unexpected things. She left her husband in order to release him from having to take care of her in the long-term and she checked herself into  a hospital because of a nervous breakdown. Her illness took over her career and she found herself on disability. She remarried and had a child and moved north to be with her family. Over the next couple of years she managed to  come back  for several visits. These visits were gradually impossible. She stopped coming to see me as she was in a nursing home. Her young daughter and her husband continued to make these yearly visits, without fail.

Last year, the daughter, now a young adult, came on her own. Beautiful, long blonde hair like her mom, short in stature like her dad,she breezed in for a good long visit. A week or so later the dad came on his own, health weary himself and feeling quite down. These two visits were both repeated at another friend’s home as well. Every year they come to see us and every year Jan slips further away.  She exists, ill and incapacitated.

Her friendship endures. I’ll be expecting them soon.


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Filed under friends, retirement, teaching, writing

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